Monday, July 23, 2007

Salvador da Bahia

When people think of Brazil they probably think of Rio first. Second might be Sao Paulo, the center of business. Brasilia is the center of government. But the state of Bahia, and especially its capital Salvador, is the cultural center of Brazil. Major music trends and artists most often originate out of Bahia. Dance trends originate out of Bahia. Religious trends even originate out of Bahia. In short, Bahia often defines Brazil.

We arrived after a flight from Iguazu Falls. We headed to two places in Bahia, Salvador and Porto Seguro. First, Salvador. Salvador has about 3 million people, mostly Afro-Brazilians. In terms of people, Brazil loosely goes from white to black as you go from the deep south north. This centers largely around the existence of the slave trade in the north, which centered around the Pelourinho area, now the central tourist attraction of the city.

As you walk around, the Pelourinho area just oozes history. The buildings are old and the streets have large stones that are hard to walk on for anyone and would be impossible for a girl in heals. They say there is a church for each day, and I believe them. The buildings are beautiful, but worn from heavy use.

At this point the area is more or less for tourists. Drum groups and capoeira troupes roam the streets eager for that elusive donation. Vendors give you these lenbranças, which are little ribbons that you tie around your wrist. The mass influx of tourists from other areas of Brazil often return with them to use as gifts. I bought a handful myself. The charm, culture, and overall friendliness of Bahia means people will always come back.

This picture I thought did a good job of showing old and new Bahia. The foreground used to be a large estate (probably a slaveowner) overlooking the ocean. Now it serves as a museum and developers built a high-rise apartment complex behind it, even closer to the ocean. There are multiple of these in Salvador.


Blogger Vanessa said...

lovely post, babe. I really like the last picture.

12:57 AM  

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