Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
Historic Buildings of the Pelourinho, Balé Folclórico da Bahia, Colorful Murals, Bag Snatching
Page 13 of 17


I wandered the cobblestone streets of historic Pelourinho in Salvador, admiring the architecture details of the old Portuguese colonial buildings.

This is a view of Ladeiro do Carmo from up near the church, looking back towards the Largo do Pelourinho.

Another hair-braiding place right out on the street.

I listened to some candomblé and samba de roda music at Randy's Cana Brava shop.  He has a good collection there, and although he wasn't there, his wife was extremely helpful.

Samba de roda is essentially the basis for samba in all of Brazil, eventually brought to Rio de Janeiro by black slaves who had migrated from here in Bahia.  The Bahian samba de roda became a Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO in 2005.

I returned to the Bahia-style restaurant known for its beans, Alaide do Feijão.  Last time was too filling, so I ordered it without the meat and sausage.  It was still too filling.  I believe the lady may have given me extra.

I walked back down to Teatro Miguel Santana for the Balé Folclórico da Bahia performance, sitting in the front.  The show was mindblowingly fantastic, with men and women doing athletic, lively dances, including candomblésamba de roda, fire dances, maculele, fishermen dances, a berimbau solo, shown here in the photo, which preceded a stunning capoeira dance. 

Although the dances were heavily choreographed and not really purely "folkloric", the show was astounding.  At one point, I turned around near the end and saw everyone smiling broadly, with tourists and Brazilians alike buzzing about the performance afterwards.

17 July Friday - Acarajé is a traditional bean fritter dish from Bahia, originally brought here by slaves from West Africa, and is often found in street food and candomblé rituals. It's made from black-eyed peas formed into a fritter and deep fried in dendê (palm oil), and served with various toppings and hot sauce.

Ken and Gillian, guests at Open House Barra, had mentioned that Acarajé da Maria had good tasting Acarajé

But where was Maria?  She was never there in the evenings.  She was never there in the day.  I began to wonder about her whereabouts, if I should ask about her.  Had she taken ill?  Was she okay?  Was she tending to an ill family member?  Why was she not frying up balls of acarajé under a canopy adorned with her name?

I never had acarajé.  Criminal, I know.  It was all around, everywhere in Salvador, on street corners, bus stops, and the beaches.  The acarajé at Piata looked good, but I was stuffed full of fried fish and delicious fries.  The others didn't smell appetizing to me, the scent of the oil not something I was accustomed to sensing.

But Maria, wherever you are, I hope that you are okay and now frying up delicious acarajé for your adoring patrons.

After the rain cleared Friday, I took a bus to Rio Vermelho, just north of Ondina, not far from Barra.  I had seen some vivid murals, gorgeously deep-hued, and wanted to photograph some of them and walk along the beach.

I exited the bus randomly, and walked quite a ways over to an expensive hotel to see the views, then walked back out to Avenida Presidente Vargas, paralleling the beach, walking back towards Ondina.  Along the way were several coves filled with fishermen, some painting their boats.

Although most of the time, I had been photographing things around Salvador with my small Leica camera, today I had chosen to bring the larger camera to use the zoom.  I had asked about how safe it was to walk along the beach.  "It's safe," people had said. "It's daylight, and it's busy."

I continued walking along Avenida Presidente Vargas, parallelling the beach, admiring the various murals.

One of the small bays along Avenida Presidente Vargas in Rio Vermelho.  I found this particular bay to be quite charming.  I had become rather paranoid about crime, though, having been warned repeatedly by everyone throughout my stay in Salvador. 

I had been warned about isolated beaches, and since I had my camera bag, I chose not to venture down there, going against my usual nature.

This Cha Cha Cha mural can be seen in many places around Salvador, appearing here on the wall of a decaying old colonial house.

More of the fantastic murals around Rio Vermelho, as I continued walking back towards Ondina and Barra.

After photographing this cow mural, I came across a stretch of the road with no murals,  just the beach on one side.  I began to look for a bus stop. 

I saw two young guys on one side of the street, talking to each other, one in a red shirt, the other in yellow.  The guy in the red shirt ran across the street in front of me.  His friend also crossed, but in back of me.

The guy in the red shirt came up and extended his hand, wanting to make conversation. I finally shook his hand. Strangely, I noticed his friend in the yellow shirt, coming up behind me. The guy in the red shirt didn't readily release his handshake. I knew for sure it was on.

I still had the element of surprise on my side.  I suddenly yanked the guy in red hard, then spun quickly to dodge the guy in a yellow shirt who had begun to come up fast in back of me.  He still made a grab for my bag, barely grazing it, grabbing nothing but air. Both were extremely startled, jumping back slightly. I quickly feinted as if I were about to lunge forward.  Both ran off and bolted back across the street.

I am GRATEFUL beyond words that they were stupid (my bag, for instance, was a fanny pack that was strapped around my waist and my shoulder and I was holding were they going to snatch and run?) and were not wielding knives or guns. Although violent crime is not common in Salvador, you never know, so I am grateful I was not injured or worse. It probably didn't hurt that I was considerably taller and larger than either of them.

I had been looking for a bus stop. I sure wish I had found it a little sooner.  Two minutes later, I found one, hopped aboard, and exited at Morro do Cristo (see photo) in Barra, and walked back up to Open House Barra.

Oddly, I felt wary, hyper-alert, but was already thinking of other things, looking forward to seeing Grupo Z.J.A.P. later that evening. I walked up Rua Marques de Caravelas, past Mar Brisa, with its fun display of swimsuits.

And almost next door to Mar Brisa, the local Barra hangout where you could get açaí ice cream, a tattoo, and check your email in one sitting.

One of the things I like about Salvador and other places is the ability to walk out your door, take a few steps, and buy fruit.  And when the fruit is as diverse and tasty as it is in Bahia, it's a fantastic treat.  This is the fruit stand that is a few houses down from Open House Barra.  I purchased some Amazonian fruit and went back to the house.


Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
Page 13 of


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