Zumbi of Palmares
Trip Start Jul 19, 2012
17Trip End Aug 03, 2012
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Arriving at Praca da Se, where the buses terminates, it started raining and as we looked around anxiously for cover, a man appeared selling umbrellas so we grabbed one and set off to find the hairdressers we had made an appointment with the previous week. Within minutes we were in the middle of a major downpour so we stopped under a canopy to avoid getting soaked. Noticing that the rain was still pouring down, we looked up to find that the canopy was only a fine mesh designed to keep out the sun and did little to shelter us from the rain
The bookshop - Stepping into the doorway of the shop we were standing in front of, we were immediately offered a bucket to put the wet umbrella in. Entering the shop we realized that it was a book shop specializing in African literature. Judging from the titles we were able to translate and the illustrations, there were some significant works on African culture and civilization both on the continent and in Brazil. Unfortunately, all but a few sections of some of the titles were in Portuguese and to say that our grasp of the language was rudimentary would be something of an overstatement at this stage. The shop assistance displayed the characteristic helpfulness that we have encountered so often in Salvador. People here are not pushy by any means and don't mind you browsing even if you don’t buy anything.
We found the hairdressers much more easily than anticipated and after a brief wait Asha sat down in the chair to have her hair done while I walked around the area to get my bearings and increase my familiarity. This was the first time we would be in Pelourinho without a guide so it was important that we move around confidently.
Mestre do Capoeira - Leaving the hair dressers we started to walk around looking for places to shop and as we turned the first corner we had the second surprise of the day
Zumbi of Palmeres – At the end of the day we made our way back to the bus stop for the return journey, by this time fully confident of finding our way around. Passing through the main square of Salvador the surroundings looks very unfamiliar and for a brief moment we were not sure if we were going in the right direction. Pausing to compose ourselves, we realized that with the rain pouring down in the morning, we had rushed through this part of town hidden under our umbrella without taking much note of the surroundings.
A brief glance to the right revealed something quite unexpected that turned out to be the major event of the day. Standing in the middle of the square was a life sized bronze statue of Zumbi of Palmares. This was a complete surprise as it has not been mentioned in any of the research I had done in preparation for the trip. There in the middle of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the black state of Brazil, was a real black man standing tall and dignified. "Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved." This was certainly the highlight of our day and a fitting tribute for African Remembrance Day.