SALVADOR – colours, bazaars, music and capoeira

We sail to Salvador with the ferry across the Bay of All Saints, admiring the city bathed in the afternoon sun. What immediately caught our attention is the center with high office buildings that was missing in Rio.

Contrasts again

Later as it turned out, it was a district of luxury apartment buildings. Many of them were built in the gardens of palaces from the colonial times. These palaces are now used mainly for the reception and the place where the apartment building service lives. The buildings are huge and located closely next to each other. In addition to the view from the upper floors, the potential buyers are tempted by another very important thing here – prestige. Well, a flat in a tower block consisting of several hundred small apartments, with thin walls and loud neighbors is the dream of many Brazilians, because thanks to this they can show their social status. These apartments are very expensive and only a few can afford them. The district is well maintained, there’s no fear to go outside at night. However, only when we crossed one street further, there we can already see standard, dilapidated and anointed buildings with bars on the ground floors, next to which we pass in the dark with a slightly trembling heart. A little farther, on the hill, of course, was a favela.

A view for Salvador
Feels like money

Colours

The first thing that draws our attention during a walk around Pelourinho – the old town – are the colors. The city is full of them, centuries-old buildings are painted in different hues, colorful posters are attached to the walls, there is a lot of beautiful street art, on the gates and fences of the church there are ribbons Lembranças do Bomfim, and at the local market stalls are yielding from colorful fruit and vegetables whose names we can not even remember.

Capoeira posters
Street art
Pelourinho
Fruits and vegetables on the market
Lembranças do Bomfim

Marketplaces

Marketplaces are everywhere. There are plenty of them all over the city. There are smaller ones, on which you can buy fruits, vegetables, spices, meat and fish, as well as larger ones, on which we can find beautiful handicrafts, and even live animals. It reminds us a little bit of souk from Morocco, about which you can read HERE. In addition to the bazaars themselves, a lot of stalls are set up on the streets. You can buy everything from: food to electronics (I wonder if the phones on these stands have a guarantee?). Moreover, there are a lot of small service points, often placed in the street huts, where you can make copies of keys, cut off, or buy flip-flops made 5 minutes earlier. And of course all at very good prices. We highly recommend shopping in such places, we will get the freshest products there much cheaper than in large stores. And to find a multi-store is not so easy.

The most famous bazaar is Mercado Modelo. Unfortunately, now it is a great store with quite expensive souvenirs for tourists, so if you want to find real treasures, it is better to go for example to Feira de São Joaquim. It’s worth to visit Mercado Modelo just to watch, what strangeness they sell there – eg a crab liqueur.

Fresh goat on the marketplace
This man produces flip-flops. It takes him 10 minutes to make one pair.
Crab liqueur

Music

Music in Salvador flows from every corner, and even from street vendors’ stands. Many stalls are real machines, sometimes they are in the shape of a truck, they shine and they play popular Brazilian music from washing machine-sized speakers. In addition to the dubious pleasure of listening to such music (no, it is not samba, but Brazilian funk), we encounter live music at every step. Here there is a jazz concert, there a samba concert, and there a batucada. One evening, such a band of drummers not only rocked out amazing music and performed acrobatics with drums (such as in Jackson’s music video They don’t care about us,, which was partially filmed in the old town of Salvador), but also created the whole party on the street. The audience danced samba and Zumba to the rhythm of the drums, and behind the slowly moving street crowd was followed by the vendors of cold drinks. Along the way, there were of course stalls with acarajé – a typical street snack from Bahia. The performance was not interrupted even when a taxi drove slowly through the middle of the drummers.

It’s worth taking a look at the sunset at Farol da Barra – a lighthouse located in the south-western part of the city. Together with several hundred people wanting to watch the sunset, there is a band of 4 guys who sing very well every day accompanied by a guitar and cajona. Interestingly, at the moment when the sun disappeared behind the horizon, it got an ovation from the audience. Bravo, Sun. You did it well.

In many pubs every night someone is playing, and from time to time a berimbau sound comes along, which attracts us like a magnet.

Music shop

Capoeira

Salvador is the largest cultural center of capoeira in the world. It is everywhere: on the walls hang posters, every now and then we pass the academy (capoeira school), and from time to time you can see on the street the roda , which means circle, in the middle of which two capoeiristas play. Because capoeira is playing, not fighting. More than to hurt someone, the idea is to make the game fluent, to outmaneuver someone and fool with agility and sophisticated movements and acrobatics.

Of course, we can not miss the opportunity to train here, so we contact Professor Tiririca, who visited our group in Warsaw last spring. Trainings at this temperature are murderous, but we are very happy.

Us with Professorem Tiririca

Itaparica

After 5 days, unfortunately, we have to leave Salvador. On the island of Itaparica, which is one hour away from Salvador by ferry, our host from Couchsurfing – kindest Manja is waiting for us. While sailing to the shore, we see an interesting scene – the boys jump from the bridge into the water, swim to the ferry, climb up to and jump from it again. Or they catch the tires protecting the side and are dragged behind the ship. In Poland, the crew of such a ferry would call the police right away. And here? Nobody even blinked, the boys are having fun, it does not bother anyone.

Boarding!

Manja is Swiss , who moved to Brazil and has been living in Itaparica for over 10 years. Thanks to her hospitality for 5 days we live in separate house, we can use her pool, collect mangoes and starfruits straight from the tree, and we get an invitation from her neighbor Ådne – Norwegian, who spends the winter in Brazil – for a delicious barbecue. We meet there the group capoeira Raizes da Ilha, with whom we do exhaustive roda, and the next day we go as guests on the batizado. We are capoeira-fulfilled 🙂

Raizes da Ilha
Our house at Manja’s

Unfortunately, we can not stay at Manja’s head forever (although we seriously considered staying there until the end of the trip;)) and we start heading to Chapada Diamantina national park.

The way to Lençois

It turned out that a good streak to hitchhiking ended. After many hours of standing in several different places, we cover half of the road with various means of paid transport. We spent the night at the station of rescuers near the interstate road. The rescuers were very hospitable, they offered us a warm hot-dogs and offered a shower. Unfortunately, the weather was not so kind and there was a storm at night. Surprisingly, it was a region where it is extremely rare. Fortunately, the tent bravely survived the downpour and the next day without any major problems we reach Lençois, unaware of what adventure the mountains are preparing for us.

Just like a Wild West
Huh?

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