The first mention of Projeto Porto Baleia came one day in a cookie kitchen. The lady who runs this organic cookie business briefly told me there was a movement to prevent a condominium development along Lagoa do Corac̣o. Lagoa do Corac̣o is the the colloquial name for a lagoon in Paulo Lopes named Lagoa do Riberao. The nickname translates to the Heart Lagoon. As you enter or leave my host community of Paulo Lopes, you are welcomed or bidadieu by a billboard with an aerial photo of the lagoon.The lagoon is shaped like a heart! It is fed and drained by the small river Rio da Madre in Paulo Lopes which opens its mouth into the Atlantic Ocean at the beach called Guarda do Embau. It’s a favorite of mine on days Argentinian tourist hordes haven’t dominated the sand.
After this first mention in the cookie factory, I probably didn’t think of the Lagoa once in the next month.
It became an interest of mine on a workweek evening while we were paying a short visit to the home of my Grandmother and Aunt here in Paulo Lopes. These short visits sometimes become long ones which last until my host father decides it’s time to wish his in-laws good night. One conversation between him and my two host aunts involved helicopters, and was an especially spirited dispute. I pointed my Portuguese deciphering skills(at that point limited) toward them to figure out what was being discussed. A picture started to emerge. Wealth will be coming to the Lagoa do Corac̣o, and the current and founding citizens of Paulo Lopes haven’t received an invitation. A brand new high-end master planned community will exist there with its own roads, businesses, boats, schools, gyms, golf course, firefighters, security, and helipad. The focus of this conversation was the helipad. My host dad laughed at a proposition that all the guests,timesharers and condo residents will be coming and going by helicopter while the access road is left completely gated shut. I’ll admit that I also found it funny. However, I think the sentiment behind the notion was received because we can all get this sense of we don’t belong there.” This feeling may not be based in a reality but the feeling itself is very real. While my friends and family here in Paulo Lopes will certainly be allowed to enter and leave at will