The Beating of Drums
by Carolyn Chilton Casas
At the pousada pequena in a tropic beach town,
fatigued from too many hours of travel,
we were concerned when asked to leave
our key hanging on the reception wall.
We had read State Department warnings
for tourists traveling to this area,
heard rumors to be careful, cautionary tales
about things being stolen.
A teacher at the school told me
her husband, an international pilot,
never left his hotel room in Rio
for safety reasons. She hinted
Brazil was not the best choice for children,
hence, I was on high alert,
and somewhat alarmed about the key idea.
In the São Paulo airport, we had just met a family;
their son, fifteen, an exchange student who
stayed with us earlier in the year, and now
we were here to see the place he called home.
Our son had just turned eleven.
Having been given only a double bed
and a small cot for our daughter,
the family offered to let him stay,
the boys happy with this plan
having shared a bunk bed months ago
and become friends.
Leaving our sons to catch up, we walked to dinner.
Like in many places with warmer climates,
the evening meal is eaten late;
at midnight, we strolled slowly back,
amazed to be suddenly in a place so foreign to us,
enjoying the fragrance of angel’s trumpet,
a night-blooming flower.
Upon reaching their beach house,
we bid boa noite to our new friends
and continued down the dirt path to the inn.
The dad came running after us to say
their son had fallen asleep and ours was gone.
In his hand, a handwritten note, which read—
I couldn’t sleep because of the drums.
Outside, I yelled at them to stop.
They didn’t, so I am going to our hotel.
We ran toward the Pousada Canto do Camburi
many dark streets away;
where we found no key on the wall,
took the steps two at a time
to the second story, and hurriedly
pushed open the door to find
our boy sound asleep on the tiny bed.
The next morning the Brazilian family
explained to our son—
the loud noises he had heard weren’t drums
but the ba, boom, ba, boom of big frogs,
living in the jungle growth behind their home.
NOTE: São Sebastião is a municipality, located on the southeast coast of Brazil, in the state of São Paulo with a population in 2020 of 90,328. The Tropic of Capricorn lies about 15 miles north. The city is famous for its beaches, including Camburi, making it a popular tourist destination. The Alcatrazes Archipelago is formed by five main islands and some smaller unnamed islands. The largest island of the archipelago is also called São Sebastião. Birds, whales and other sea animals stop here seasonally to reproduce. The islands are within the Tupinambás Ecological Station. Several species of frogs are only found on the Alcatrazes.
PHOTO: Young Alcatrazes frog (Scinaz alcatraz), a native species of the island of Alcatrazes, off the coast of São Paulo, Brazil. Photo © Norberto Hulle. For more information, visit the World Wildlife Fund at wwf.org.br.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Beating of Drums” recounts an experience in Camburi, Brazil.
PHOTO: The author with her family in Brazil.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master and teacher, a student of metaphysics and philosophy. Her favorite themes for writing are healing, wellness, awareness, and the spiritual journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in Energy, Journey of the Heart, Odyssey, Reiki News Magazine, Snapdragon, The Art of Healing, as well as other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram at mindfulpoet. On February 16, 2021, her first collection of poetry, Our Shared Breath, was released.