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A Brazilian vacation combines yoga and surfing

Immersed in these enlightened thoughts, I was shocked to suddenly see Jesica, just 30 feet away, under a waterfall. Her yoga attire folded on a riverside rock, she had donned a string bikini and held a perfect warrior pose under the spray of tumbling water.

"Come on in!" she beckoned to me, laughing. "It's a portal into the divine."

I shrugged and joined her. Portal or no portal, splashing around with Jesica in a tropical waterfall did undermine the Swami a bit.

Come to think of it, with the notable exception of the rigorous daily routine, nearly everything on Enchanted Mountain undermined the Swami. Far from an austere Himalayan monastery, the yoga center oozed earthly sensuality. My cabin nestled luxuriously into the plumeria-scented jungle. Brazil's tropical Atlantic -- where, Krishna willing, I'd soon be surfing -- crashed in the distance. And a guest chef from Sao Paulo served up cuisine so tasty you'd hardly guess it was vegan.

On my last night, Norman, a mustachioed 60-year-old psychotherapist from Buenos Aires, announced after a yoga class: "It's my birthday, and tonight we'll celebrate."

Under a full moon, Norman, who looks a little like Merlin the magician, appeared with a basket overflowing with tropical flowers that he'd picked in the jungle. He sat us in a circle, and I immediately sensed that this wasn't part of the Swami's official curriculum.

Heretically, Norman invoked Shiva and Earth goddesses from around the world as he tossed handfuls of scented flowers over Jesica and the other women in our circle. In melodious Spanish he told them to treasure their fleeting youth.

Then he passed the basket to me. I dipped my fingers in the dewy petals.

The women looked at it with beaming smiles as a warm ocean breeze blew by. The fertile rain forest echoed with insect sounds as I tossed flower petals on them, feeling more mojo than nirvana rising. This was a far cry from detachment.

* * *

The next morning at sunrise, I left Enchanted Mountain and took a public bus toward nearby Praia do Rosa (Rose Beach). I'd heard that the surfing there was excellent.

A wide, rolling country of sugar cane plantations and small towns whisked by. Though this was my fourth trip to Brazil, I'd never been this far south. After having heard nothing but mantras for a week, I enjoyed the samba on the bus stereo. The Brazilians on the bus reflected the country's wide racial spectrum, from Afro-Brazilian to blue-eyed Caucasian.

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