Happy Santa Barbara Day!

Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
Trip End Dec 11, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , Estado de Bahía,
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today we visited Salvador de Bahia. This is the third largest city in Brazil.  It developed in the 16th century at first because of sugar cane and tobacco plantations and later on due to the discovery of gemstones and coffee plantations.  The salve trade was also very important to the development of this city.  At first the indigenous people and people expelled from Portugal were used as slaves.  It turned out that they wouldn't work as hard as the rich Europeans wanted so they began capturing people in Africa and bringing them to Brazil as slaves.  Originally they came from Angola and Congo.  Eventually 4 million Africans were brought to Brazil.  There was an active slave trade in Brazil from 1558 to 1888.  

The bay that Salvador is located on is the third largest bay in the world.  It attracted the Portuguese and Spanish.  For a short period of time the Dutch got into the act also.  The upper city is the oldest part of the city and it is another UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is known as the Pelourinho. It is unique in Brazil because of it's concentration of Afro-Brazilians.  They believe there were about 9 million indigenous people in Brazil when the Europeans arrived.  Of these a small percentage practiced cannibalism.  Unfortunately for the Europeans the first Catholic Bishop in Salvador was eaten by cannibals.
  We saw the traditional dress of Bahian woman.  See the picture with Ken.  This exaggerated dress style started after the slaves were freed.  The women could not wear big fancy dresses while they were enslaved,.  After they were free they proudly began wear huge dresses.  There are now quite a few of women who ring in some extra money by posing for pictures in these dresses.
We were in Salvador for the feast day of Santa Barbara.  Everyone was dressed in red and white ad they had a procession of icons from the Cathedral with a band playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  I do not have an explanation for the musical choice.

The Catholic church was pretty big here, and still is.  We stood in a square that had 5 churches and an H. Stern store (the 6th church?  For those of you who don’t hang out in duty free ports, H. Stern is a large jewelry store that is in every Caribbean port of call and is usually the only air conditioned store around).  The interesting thing is that the African religion of the enslaved peopled who were brought here, called Candomble, is still practiced.  The church tried to wipe it out but was unsuccessful.  The enslaved Africans preserved the religion by identifying characteristics of Catholic saints that were similar to their gods and combining them.  A park that we drove by have large representations of these gods in it.  Candomble sessions are still held in the African language of the residents African ancestors.  Notice the photo on the church of the female figure.  All of the female figures in this church were pregnant.  The ugly side of this story is that the slave owners would choose the best looking Africans to work in their homes.  These were the people who most closely conformed to the European idea of beauty.  The women that lived in the city were basically kept to produce children for the owners.  They were continuously pregnant.  These figures in the church were to encourage that.  You can also see from the gold in the churches that there was a lot of money coming into the church at this time.  They were working hard to convert the slaves.  In fact, the slaves didn't take to kindly to the idea of someone getting nailed onto a cross, this seemed pretty frightening,  but they did like the sun, so the symbol used for Jesus was often the sun.  Notice the picture of the cathedral ceiling

We walked around the Pelourinho for about 2 hours.  The churches are spectacular.  Done in Baroque and Rococo style which much gold leaf.  This was a very wealthy part of Brazil.  Then Ken got to participate in a martial art known as Capoeira.  This is an Afro-Brazilian art form.  The interesting thing is that it originated in Africa, near Cape Verde where we had previously stopped.  The enslaved Africans developed it further in Brazil and then it was brought back to Cape Verde.  We saw it in both places.  Ken, it turns out, is not very good at it.  Judge for yourselves in the pictures.

We then stopped for another Churrascaria lunch, this one wasn’t as good as the one two days ago. Then a bus tour around the city.  The beaches are gorgeous and they go on and on.  They do have favelas (slums) in Salvador, but they are a curious mix of the very poor and the middle class.  You see tumble down homes right next to well-kept homes.  We also saw their soccer stadium and convention center.  Apparently the government of Salvador is a lot like a lot of other countries.  We saw an electric tram line that is only partially built that they have been working on for 12 years.  It will only go 6 kilometers when it is done.  We also saw a shopping center on the beach which had been abandoned because the Brazilian navy said it was illegal.  They are now tearing it all down and rebuildling it.  All of Brazil is looking forward to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.  Judging from the weather today, those games will be mighty hot and humid.

We then strolled through the handicraft market and Andrea had some fun buying a few things.  Bargaining in the markets is a real game, once you stop being afraid of offending someone and understand they expect it.

We are looking forward to snorkling tomorrow in Buzios and will keep you updated.
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