The waves at Praia do Norte, Nazare can get nearly 100 feet tall. On Monday, it was a playful 3 feet. The sun was out. The water was clear and smooth. Playful peaks stretched up and down the beach.

We laid out our towels. To our right, a man taking a nap. To our left, a shade structure with two small dogs, no people. I quickly pulled on my wetsuit and ran into the water. It was the type of day where you run into the water.

I surfed for an hour and a half — down the beach away from the crowd — riding dozens of waves until they dissolved on the sand. It was hard to imagine that this was the same sand where bodies have laid lifeless — drowned from giant surf — only to be revived by rescuers. I thought about Maya Gabeira, my old friend and roommate, who was one of those surfers that knocked on death’s door, and then ran away.

I haven’t talked to Maya in forever, I thought.

After surfing, back on our towels, I watched the waves continue to pump. I saw a goofyfooter on a pink board catch a quick left, then belly to shore. I kept watching her. No. It couldn’t be. Could it? Could that be...Maya?

Of course it was. As she walked up the sand, the dogs next to us ran down to greet their person.

We laughed about the coincidence and caught up for 20 minutes. She’d moved to Nazare a couple of years ago. It’s a place that nearly took her life, then gave her a world-record big wave. She can’t resist its magnetic pull.

As Dana and I packed up our stuff, Maya asked “Taylor, how old are you now?”


“Wow, I’m 34. We’re getting old!”

“Very true.”

“But you know,” she said, “if we’re still meeting like this on a Monday, life has turned out pretty good for us.