By Joaquim Maria Botelho, Brazilian journalist and writer
Since the time of the Phoenicians, dating back to 1200Bc to 900BC, the masters of navigation have explored the seas. Amongst them, the Vikings, the Greeks and, later on, the Portuguese, launched their vessels into waters inhabited by monsters. They challenged the belief that the world was flat and ended in a huge waterfall where all ships that dared to sail would fall and disappear to face the gods. In our contemporary world, my leading character of maritime adventure is Amyr Klink. I had the honor to interview him in my time as a reporter for the Brazilian news channel Manchete. This was on his arrival in Salvador, Bahia, after his famous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, a journey of one hundred days rowing from Dakar, Senegal. Amyr had survived the challenges of the sea. Martinês Rocha de Souza has not done this, but like Amyr, and in consideration of the many challenges presented by perceived limitations, Martinês and Amyr are quite the same.
I cannot say that Martinês is a hero in the classic sense of the word. He has not fought nor lead armies to war and has not brought about a political regime. He has, however, lived his own life with intensity. What makes him a man of courage is his ability to simply resist the desire to give up in moments of oppression, prejudice and contempt, as well as when other people try to convince him to give up. He has overcome adversity and, as Martinês honors the Christian ethics of forgiveness and turning the other cheek, vengeance was never an option.
You are about to read the story of a common guy with good qualities and, of course, some faults and vices. At the same time though, he is a person equipped with an invincible determination to be happy. He found paths because he found the right people and found the right people while he was finding his path. Where there seemed to be no roads, he sought them out and asked others where they were. Where he found no roads, he learnt how to build them.
This is the story of a strong man. Perhaps we could all learn something from his adventures.
Never restful, Martinês has brought up his second book Beyond the Seven Seas. While in the first one we behold how the poor boy from Boninal conquered the world with hard work and a lot of elbow grease, we now have the privilege to get to know more about our hero’s journey, who has now visited more than one hundred countries.
Amongst waves and margaritas, the second part of Martinês’ adventures carries us in an even more mature and self-confident reading. Many times I felt like I was being carried by a giant bird and contemplating the vivid condensation of all people and cities around the world. People to whom he talked, people who never knew he was there at the first place. Some parts are like On The Road, or should we say The Sea is My Brother?
On some of my late night readings of Beyond The Seven Seas, I was carried by Martinês’ stream of consciousness and found myself in a cathartic frenzy, as if it was me at the medieval city of Kotor, at the deepest point of the giant fjord that almost invades Montenegro. The details are immense, revealing an outright literary author behind the self-help tone that the book’s cover may convey.
Yes, the first book is particularly remarkable and played a role in some decisions I made in my life. Well, we are not talking about me, so what does Beyond The Seven Seas have that you would not guess by its cover? If you read My Way To The Seven Seas, you know that the book intends to, beyond telling tales of work and adventure, to shake young people hearts and show them that almost everything is indeed possible, even if they feel like they have no future.
That being said, do not fool yourself! Do you remember Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography? A pioneer, he was the first western man to combine his lessons with dazzling and interesting stories, part of what made him a remarkable man. As for the literary aspects and aesthetic value of the text, that’s how you feel reading Martinês Rocha de Souza. The difference is – well, let me be completely honest – our hero drinks more beer and wooes the ladies a little more.
The boy from Downstreet knows that no one gets there without waking up before the sun rises and working a lot. He did not win the genetic lottery nor was he born wealthy. He did the right choices and – most importantly – never forgot the profound roots of his family.