Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
The Ugly Angels of São Francisco, Letieres Leite, Virgin Beaches of Praia do Forte
Page 16 of 17


The church of São Francisco had some of the more interesting angels and cherubs.  The slave artisans created distorted, ugly angels, some with large protruding genitalia, to thumb their noses at their masters.

I had açaí na Tigela, açaí ice cream, with bananas and granola out on Praça Anchieta, running into Ben giving a tour of the Pelourinho.

I stopped by Cana Brava one last time to say by to Randy and thank him.  Moments after I stepped through the door, Paulinho entered, dancing his way to the back of the store, smiling.  I would miss hanging out with these two and hearing Paulinho's music.  I sometimes wished that the world were a little smaller.  Or I had a transporter.

I also had other business in the Pelourinho.  I wanted to buy a Brazilian Michael Jackson shirt. Everywhere I had been on this trip, everywhere I walked, I had seen Michael Jackson news, shirts, videos.  I'd heard his music everywhere. Even Mont Serrat and the Saturday jazz band had played his songs. He seemed part of the trip.

I walked down to Largo do Pelourinho, the site of the original whipping post.  And where Michael Jackson filmed a video for one of his songs with Olodum.  And where I would purchase this shirt.  So good.  So right.

I returned to Barra and ate at Bate Boca, a nice restaurant literally inside someone's house, serving tasty comida a quilo (buffet weighed by the kilo), a popular way for many restaurants to serve food.

In the evening, Marshall, a guest of Open House Barra accompanied me to see Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz "Inteira" in nearby Pituba, at the Teatro Jorge Amado.  They'd be difficult to describe - often good music is this way - but it was a big band jazz candomblé ensemble with Afro-Brazilian drums. The charismatic writer/band leader Letieres Leite playing saxophone and flute. 

 Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz use Samba and Bahian rhythms as a base, combining noted atabaque players, percussionists, brass and woodwind musicians to create new avenues for instrumental improvisation.

The show began by showing a brief film of Letieres Leite playing alto sax as a tall percussionist kept the groove in the Rosario Dos Pretos church, the church black slaves built for themselves in the Pelourinho.  Then, Letieres Leite and the percussionist came out, playing along to the film, seamlessly dovetailing into them playing the song.  Nice transition.  But they weren't done yet.  Other band members, playing brass instruments, appeared from the back of the auditorium, marching up the aisle to the stage, a dramatic opening.

Leader and composer Letieres Leite was a charismatic leader, willing to share the limelight and draw attention to the skillful players in his orchestra. Gordon had recommended this show, and he was spot on.

21 July Tuesday - Have you ever walked on a pristine, virgin tropical beach?

This was my last full day in Brazil, and a walk on a pristine virgin beach sounded like a fine way to end the trip.  I woke up early again, leaving the house by 7am, catching the various buses to the bus terminal and beyond.  I had been to Praia do Forte with Lisa on the 9th of July, but this time I was going to walk 14km (8.7 miles).

I got to Praia do Forte at 11pm and began my walk. 

At first, there were people, tables, chaise lounges, umbrellas, and vendors.  I bought some more queijo coalho with oregano and pimentos, my third taste of fried cheese on a stick.  Delicious.

The vendors and chaise lounges and rocks dissolved gradually, eventually disappearing as I rounded the bend.  I saw people here and there, fishermen, people walking, but no more crowds. 

Along the first half of the walk, I saw fishermen, fishing boats. 

The virgin coconut palm jungle.

I'm nuts for coconuts.

Four fishing poles up, two fishermen relaxing on the beach.

8km in, the giant Iberostar resort.  I kept walking.  One person walked in front of me, and the beach stretched out as far as the eye could follow.

But rounding the corner, especially after the 9km mark, there was no one.  To the right of me was the Atlantic Ocean.  To the left, coconut palm jungle.  And under my feet, soft soft sand. 

And I knew how many kilometers I had walked.  The beach, the jungle beyond, was an ecological reserve, and each kilometer was marked.

I looked back periodically, thankful that the weather was perfect.

I ventured out on some rocks to take photos.  It was beautiful.  I walked back.  On literally the very last step before sand, my right foot slipped on an algae-slick rock, slicing the side and bottom of my foot by the big toe.  I also landed awkwardly, and took several minutes massaging and stretching a bad cramp out of my foot.  The slice on my foot wasn't actually that bad, but the location of the cut and the salt water made it hurt worse than it actually was.  I now walked with a noticeable limp.

Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
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EXTRA:  Lisa's Photos and Videos of the Amazon

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