A current news story, Message in a bottle found 40 years later., reminded me of the time when my family and I were travelling from the U. S. back to Brazil on a ship. It took two weeks at sea before arriving in Rio de Janeiro. We started the trip in New Orleans. I was thirteen at the time, and there were about ten other girls and no boys in our age range on this trip.
During the two weeks at sea, we exhausted all of our options for diversion and finally one girl suggested that we write notes with our names and addresses and put them in bottles to throw overboard. I don’t know if all of the girls did this, but I excitedly performed the task.
We finally arrived back at our home in Rio, and I watched the mail everyday for about a month. I imagined the romantic event of a young man finding my note and writing to me. Possibly my soul mate? After a while I stopped looking for a letter and completely forgot about the incident with the passing of time.
When I was fifteen years old, one day Dad came home from work with a letter for me, addressed by a Domingo Sanes Garcia in Puerto Rico. It didn’t dawn on me until I opened it and read the note, that my bottle had washed up on a beach in San Juan Bay!
According to his letter, Domingo was a 21 year old man who was in the Army and spoke English, German and Spanish. He was home on leave and was fishing when he saw the bottle. He had been born in Puerto Rico, was not married, and had traveled to many places around the world. He asked me to send him a picture and said he would write again and also send me a picture.
Dad did not want me to write to him or send a photo. He was worried about Domingo’s age. I had dreams that I would meet Domingo, maybe he could come to Rio for a visit! We would fall in love and I would go to live in Puerto Rico with him. It was not unusual in those times in Brazil for a girl almost 16 years old to marry a man who was 21.
This would be the perfect romance and proof that he was my soul mate, due to the unusual circumstances of our connection. I wrote a letter, included the picture below, and gave it to Dad to mail. I’m the blonde, second from the left.
I waited and waited and Domingo never responded. Dad said that he had sent the letter but I suspect till this day that he didn’t.
Some of my friends thought that Domingo was probably married and couldn’t write back.
In those days we didn’t have the internet, so I couldn’t look him up. I have googled his name, out of curiosity, but with no results. I guess it was the perfect teenage romance. Only in my dreams!