Day 47 of 68 – Salvador de Bahia, Brazil-Part 1

February 21, 2018 Paul Groves

This city is farther up the east coast of South America than Búzios, but we are still in Brazil. In fact, we will be in Brazil for almost three weeks of this cruise. Salvador used to be the capital of Brazil long ago because of the extensive sugar trade that developed in the area. Sugar cane grows well in this area, but it’s cultivation requires many hands and the solution to the problem was slavery. This choice has affected everything in Salvador. The African heritage is visible in the skin tone of the people (most citizens of Brazil show characteristics of Portuguese heritage or of the indigenous peoples), the food, the music, the art and the religions.

When the sugar trade reduced in importance, other cities raised in importance such as Rio and later Brazilia. One of the important tourist areas is the historic region that is located high above the port. To get there, you take an elevator (for about 25 cents) to the area. The architecture is from the wealthy traders and plantation owners from days gone by. The buildings have a lot of detail and color.

In the tourist area, we encountered Baianas, dressed in traditional outfits. These costumes were worn by the slave women who were chosen to work in their masters homes taking care of the children. We were able to take pictures for a small donation. The African religion was strictly forbidden during the period of slavery, but the people were able to continue their worship of their several African gods by disguising their gods with Christian saints images thus fooling their masters. Each god had a part of the earth associated with them (sea, air, corners, crossings, etc.) and also a color. The colors of the jewelry worn by the Baianas represented which gods they followed.

The slaves were eventually allowed to construct their own church. It is a pretty blue color with beige accents. Since the builders were slaves, they could only work on the church at night. Also, because the slaves were not allowed fire by their masters (who feared that the fire might be used as a weapon), the builders could only work during full moons. Not surprisingly, therefore, it took many years to build the church. This church is called Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Man. We visited on Sunday during a service and it was not appropriate to take pictures, but I did notice a huge rosary that hung across the entrance of the church. Each “bead” was the size of a croquet ball.

Continuing around the area we saw some interesting and unusual things. A large picture of Michael Jackson is displayed prominently on one blue building. Michael filmed a music video on the balcony as well as down the street called, “They Don’t Care About Us”. Lining the streets were many souvenir/gift shops with many tempting items to buy. The weather was very hot and humid, however, which dampens the mood to shop.