One night in Pelourinho, historical heart of Salvador II
Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
Music shows, colorful ribbons, secret signs, and percussion in Pelourinho.
Tuesday, 2 July, 8 pm.
When the mass in the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos was ended, the church became empty in a short time. I took my opportunity to take some pictures. Without flash. Only a few moments later, we all had to leave the church. The lights were being switched off, the heavy door was being closed. After having spend our time in the church, it was now time to enjoy. Not in a cafe next to the church, but on the immense square of Terreiro de Jesus and other, smaller squares in Pelourinho. That night, we witnessed several shows of various artists, who took part of the festival ‘Pelourinho Dia e Noite. Shows, day and night. A very attractive singer in a sexy white dress got a lot of attention. Another band was playing on a stage at the other side of the square. We went from one stage to another, in order to obtain a good impression of the diversity of music acts that night. Really enjoyable!
I joined Igor and Leo on their walk through the city. We wandered through crowded, narrow alleys where we saw a lot of souvenir shops .The ambulant venders stopped us regularly, in order to sell some of the enormous stocks of necklaces and other souvenirs. Some of them tied a colored ribbon to our wrists. These ribbons bear the text “Lembrança do Senhor de Bomfim da Bahia”. Ribbons in many different colors: red, blue, yellow, pink, white, green, purple, orange. These ribbons are tied with three knots. Good for three wishes. It is the intention to wear them a long time, until your wishes are fulfilled, or that the ribbon falls apart. As a white tourist, I drew attention of those street people, and they eagerly tied ribbons on my wrist. Normally these ribbons are tied to the LEFT wrist. Probably, the choice of the left side may refer to the location of the heart at the left side of the body. But I am not sure of that.
Sometimes, street people tie ribbons without asking. They then beg you for some money. Normally I am not that bad to give them nothing, but to give them every time, when they tied another one without asking… I tried some trick and did not answer them in Portuguese or English, since some of them already have learned some basic expressions in English. I spoke to them in my native language: Dutch. For them, it must sound like Swahili or Cantonese. They then go away, shaking their head of disbelief. No money. And please do not tell them that you do not have small change, since some of them are even able to change your money! Be really careful then, since their experienced eyes and hand may efficiently locate your money stock and try to obtain their share.
Another danger is that some street people may tied ribbons to your wrist without asking, to your RIGHT wrist. One of my friends worked for the civil police and she immediately ordered me to rip that ribbon from my right wrist. She later explained me that attaching ribbons to the right wrist is some kind of sign language for the street people. That the possible victim has something shining with him. An expensive camera or cell phone. A very cunning signaling technique. One of them observes the victim and attaches a ribbon of a color that corresponds with the type of object. Number two tries to draw your attention, while number three quickly grabs the object. They had no luck with me, I was lucky enough to be in good company of Brazilians who already were familiar with this kind of robbery tricks.
It was still early at night, and the night would be very long. A night in Pelourinho may last until dawn. No wonder that the streets became gradually crowded with wandering tourists, in their search for amusement, beer, joy. Sometimes you do not need to walk a lot to find something enjoyable, it is coming towards you even. That also happened that night. We heard some distant sound of rhythmic drum beats, which was approaching us. Curiously, we approached the drum sounds. We then encountered the girls of Didá. A percussion group that consisted of only girls. They gave a street show. Big firm ladies with giant drums, and some fragile-looking girls with smaller drums. Their conductor gave them directions for their solo acts. The solo drummer then left the group for the club house. We really enjoyed to watch and to hear them playing!
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom