Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
How an elected king gains popularity during his nightly visits of the Brazilian states.
Saturday 29 July , 5 am.
The King rises
The crowd showed their impatience, but ‘O Rei’ (the King) remained unperturbed. He noticed my presence and welcome me into his community. Capoeira music was played, only few were dancing. It was five o’clock, at dawn. O Rei gave his sign. Finally. Flaviana immediately got on her feet, grabbed my hand and dragged me through the crowd. Initially she only took my hand, but eventually our fingers became entwined with each other, and, moved our entwined fingers to her body. A normal Brazilian ritual when you like each other. Together with O Rei, Flaviana and me, the complete crowd stood up. They were armed with music instruments. Now the reader may imagine what was the intention. The sleeping students inside the faculty building were about to be surprised by a nightly musical performance of O Rei and his followers. Including a Dutch ambassador as an observer. Flaviana had grabbed a tambourine, and he showed her musical skills. She didn’t lose her grip on me, dragged me to the front. Thanks to her, I was able to witness everything of this folly nightly spectacle.
The King speaks!
Students were divided per Brazilian state and stayed in the classrooms, which were temporarily cleared and cleaned. They now were occupied by a large number of tents, travel mattresses, sleeping mats, and sleeping bags. There was no separation between boys and girls, they all shared the same room. Love couples slept entwined next to or partly above each other. So sweet, so cute.. The first room was approached. O Rei gave his order to become silent, and the door was opened carefully. The first room was occupied by representatives from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Southwest Brazil. O Rei gave the sign to switch on the light, and to switch of again, repeatedly. Like a flashing light. Immediately, the crowd started to sing. Not with soft voices, on the contrary… The musical noise instantly shook awake almost everyone. Goodbye silent night, adeus peaceful night…. Some of thee students grumbled that they wanted to sleep at once. But bad luck for them… The musical spectacle continued, the crowd continued they yells. O Rei wanted to start his speech, but according the tradition he was interrupted almost immediately, by the crowd. They yelled that his speech has nothing of interest. Somehow, O Rei had to deal with a revolting crowd…
Visiting Brazilian states
About two minutes later, almost all students were awake, thanks to the yelling and the music. Strict rules limit the activities to yelling, singing, and making music. No one is allowed to shake or kick someone awake; only a slight touch on the shoulder or feet is allowed. It was not allowed to remove sheets or blankets. You might guess why… For me, it was really enjoyable to witness the sleepy students getting awake. For me, it was a peculiar experience to visit the representatives of all Brazilian states. Students from Roraima to Santa Catarina, from Amazonas to Sergipe. The awakened students tried to resume their sleep, or got up to take revenge on their fellow students from other states. A good reason for O Rei not to start his nightly visits at the same state. Every night, another state got the honor to become the first state visited by O Rei and his noisy crowd. Every night, this ritual was repeated. No wonder, that many friends from our bus really wanted to avoid this noisy nightly mess. Initially they were staying at the faculty, but soon they moved to our pousada, an oasis of peace and quietness, far away from this noisy nightmare.
Flaviana visibly enjoyed this folly spectacle. She visibly enjoyed my presence, she clearly demonstrated that. That was also visible to others. They already had started to make jokes about us. States with only a few representatives were joined in a single classroom. You can imagine that students from far, far, far away Roraima or Paraná weren’t very motivated to spend two or three entire days in a bus, on their way to Salvador. To spend a week together with other students from all Brazilian states, students who had big troubles to enter the federal universities, since they had to get top grades. A very strict selection process, only the smartest students were allowed to enter. With about a dozen or more candidates for each seat, you have to be extremely smart to become student at a federal university.
The folly nightly ritual ended at six am. It was about time for O Rei to lie down on his royal mattress, that was already occupied by his Queen of that Night. It was about time for Flaviana to get some sleep. It was about time for me to say goodbye to her. It was about time for me and the couple to return to the pousada. We didn’t take a taxi, but we started to walk. On flip flops. It already had become day, despite the winter season. I took my coat, it was still chilly. We (sleep)walked the two kilometers between the faculty and the pousada. We walked slowly, it took about half an hour to reach the pousada. Sleepy or not, I was lucky not hurt my toes by hitting obstacles or stones. It was on the news that Dutch, in general, have troubles to walk on flip flops. Either I was one exception, or I already have become very familiar with the use of flip flops. We entered the pousada at six-thirty. Everyone was sound asleep. Even the night watch, who clearly was surprised to see us. He wasn’t very happy to see us, but opened the gate for us. I immediately took out my lenses and tried to sleep. At nine, I opened my eyes again. We had a lot of things to do, before we were about to enter the bus, on our way back to Belo Horizonte…
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: SALVADOR (48). Final Night in Salvador (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (50). Start of the Third Travel to Rio de Janeiro (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: SALVADOR (47). One Afternoon in Pelourinho, Salvador’s Historical Center. (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)