Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
A surprising experience of a mist landscape in the south of Bahia, in the early morning.
Friday, July 21, 8.00 h.
…In less than fifteen minutes we entered a foggy landscape. The road was still clearly visible, that the surrounding hills were covered by a giant veil of cloud banks. The mountain slopes therefore gained some mystical appearance. Isolated palm trees emerged from the foggy blankets. It was as if I were in Holland again for a short while, as on a foggy autumn morning when the meadows are hidden by thick mist clouds. The cows without legs seem to float on the clouds. Though, this landscape was far from flat, is located more than ten thousand kilometers away, in the tropics. But it was rather chilling, probably about fifteen degrees, or even lower. Hopefully we will meet the warmer air soon, because one thin blanket only was not sufficient to protect against the cold at night. In this respect I was again a lucky dog, because the angel Carol was so sweet to me to share her blanket with me. My night was not cold at all…
Cows and vultures
We continued our travel through the misty fields for a while; immense meadows and sugar cane fields flashed past us. Probably the crop had recently been harvested, since many trucks with cut cane were parked along the motorway. Sporadically I observed cattle on the meadows; sometimes their legs were hidden by the fog. Horses, sheep, cows. It was obvious for me to count many black birds of prey on the poles, on thick branches. Solitarily, or jointly, they were performing their morning exercises, by stretching and shrinking their huge black wings. To become ready for their numerous glides, in their search for prey on the terrain. Even in a huge city as Belo Horizonte one may observe many such glider pilots, high in the sky, skillfully benefitting the thermals in the air.
One hour later we passed by little villages, with wooden or simple brick housings, unpaved roads, where the local people were making their strolls on havaianas or even bare feet. Not only dilapidated houses, but also newly-built houses, painted in bright colors, were found along the road. At one location the soil has been dug up. Probably meant for a future house, maybe even another piece of the road. Thanks to the orange-reddish soil, rich in iron, almost all houses and cars were covered by a thick layer of the same color. Carcasses of old cars were parked carelessly and randomly next to the houses or along the road. But who cares about that, if there live so few people in these tiny villages. At certain spots smoldering remains of incinerated household waste were spotted. Garbage collection in these areas has not been introduced yet.
Only one more hour later, we left the mist landscape behind us. It already was past nine-thirty. We were surrounded by low-hanging clouds for almost two hours. Now we were able to look some kilometers farther away. For me it was some kind of relief, because the pictures of the misty landscape required a lot of revision afterwards. The landscape here, father inside the state of Bahia, appeared somewhat greener, as if there had been some rain very recently. Tiny areas of lush green vegetation, amidst the barren, savanna, if you may call this Bahian area a savanna too. The North-East already has been dealing with long-term aridity and the rain to be kept off for a longer time. Probably due to global climate changes? Or probably due to ongoing deforestation and therefore devastation of the Amazon forest? Or probably due to a prolonged El Niño or La Niña effects? Who can tell….?
But this long-term drought leads to a gradual desertification of this area. Local villagers leave their native soil, trekking to more fertile soil, or trying to survive in the big cities. More growth of the favelas, more problems for the host cities, which have problems to absorb the vast increase of its inhabitants with the poor immigrants. The authorities are planning to create huge and elaborate irrigation systems in this area, which equals the size of both France and Germany, fed by one of Brazil’s largest rivers, Rio São Francisco, which flows from Minas through Bahia to the North-East. A clearly very ambitious and costly project…
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator.