Trip Start Jul 19, 2012
17Trip End Aug 03, 2012
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On the way to the docks we had another preview tour of the lower city with all its colonial architecture. The docks was a busy affair with hundreds of tourists, mainly Brazilians from other states and other South Americans streaming onto one or other of the numerous schooners sitting in the bay.
We boarded one of the schooner and made a first stop at Priest Island after a 30 minute ride. Our boat was a mixture of Brazilian, Argentinians and along with the majority of the crew, us the Africans
On the way to the beach we passed by a status of Yemanja, the water goddess. After an initial swim we sat down to a delicious appetizer of fried King Fish and shrimps served by the locals and washed down with coconut water, and of course we had to eat the jelly meat.
After about an hour and a couple of dips in the water, we headed back to the boat and off to our main destination of Itaparika. We landed on the less developed side of the island where there are no docking facilities so we had to hop on to a small dinghy to take us the final 200 meters to shore.
The buffet laid out for us was a very colorful, well presented and tasty assortment of local Bahian dishes which we tucked into with great delight. The waitresses wore stunning traditional Bahian dress, white with matching colored waist band and head wrap representing the color of the Orisha to which the wearer is devoted or the day of the week devoted to that particular Orisha.
We then has a group of young brothers demonstrating the fighting art of Capoiera, this is the African martial art from Angola which was used to defend the African free states of Brazil or Quilombos during the period of resistance slavery
Can you imagine the crazy Portuguese and Dutch soldiers when their militias arrived on the borders of the Quilimbos and they encountered the Africans. Imagine them saying to themselves, "These crazy Africans, always singing and dancing even when we're trying to kill them". The all of a sudden, whack!, a kick to the head and one soldier is off his horse, another has lost his rifle and they have no idea what's hit them. The practice of Capoeira was banned in 1892, though in 1937 it was made legal. And during the "illegal" times, practitioners of Capoeira were arrested, tortured and mutilated for practicing this beautiful are. We are assured that we will see more and better Capoeira when we attend the Bahia By Night cultural extravaganza.
After a 30 minute soak in the sun, we were back on the dinghy for the 200m hop to the schooner and the return journey to Salvador.
So far we were very happy with how the day had gone but a major highlight of the trip came at the end with the Samba band that serenaded us all the way back to port. The strong African rhythm was captivating and brought back memories of Kumina and Mento
Our host did an excellent job every step of the way of keeping us informed of what was happening, putting it into proper historical, cultural and political context.
We arrived in Salvador as the sun dipped behind the mountains that line the western side of the bay of Bahia, the largest bay area in all of South America.