Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
Wandering around in Pelourinho, Salvador’s historical center
Friday 28 July, 13 h.
We – a couple and two sisters and me – entered the Lacerda Elevator, which carried us about seventy meters higher from the level at Mercado Modelo to the level at Palácio Rio Branco. From the top, we enjoyed the breathtaking view of the lower part of the city, the harbor and the All Saint’s Bay. The Mercado Modelo, the marina. I took the opportunity to take some more pictures, while the husband of the couple kept an eye on me. In order not to become a victim of a surprise robbery. Another way of crime prevention. I also have used this method various times, at popular tourist locations that might attract criminals. I then ask friends to look around, in an inconspicuous way. Initially, the were wondering why I was asking them, but soon they understood my reason. They quickly learned to look around when I was taking my camera.
There was huge artwork near the Elevator. It consisted of a collection of granite beams that appeared to support each other. This collection is called the ‘Fallen Cross’, and is clearly visible from the harbor and from Mercado Modelo. At night, this cross is illuminated, serving as a kind of a beacon. There was a giant doll – of about four meters high – in front of the Fallen Cross. It represented a Bahian woman: a little overweight, dressed in traditional clothing. Very inviting for tourists to pose with her, with one of the cultural characteristics of Bahia. I haven’t posed with her, I preferred to pose with a slender, living Bahian girl, who was much more beautiful.
Following this short break – one of the sisters also made her pictures – we crossed Praça Municipal and continued our walk at Praça da Sé. This square preceded the much larger Terreiro de Jesus. We had a quick small bite in one of the many snack bars in the historical district. We then walked to Terreiro de Jesus. There were many people: street vendors, capoeira dancers, transvestites who made braids in the hair, for a small fee. One of the little sisters wanted such braids and sat there. Her long, dark hair was combed carefully by him (or her), and one by one the strings of hair became beautiful braids.
During the time that the girl had her braids made by the transvestite, the woman and I walked around to have a closer look at the historical buildings around the square. Some churches were open, we entered them. I was allowed to take pictures, but without flash. Sometimes I had to take various pictures of the same composition when the result was not clear enough. I needed a firm grip on the camera for the best results. But only at home, I was able to see if I was successful: the small LCD display of the camera was not sufficient enough to show the details.
The churches that were visited by us, were richly decorated; some of the churches had decorations that were covered with gold leaf. I didn’t experience the feeling of chillness, like in most huge churches in the Netherlands or Belgium. I experienced some comfortable warmth of the much lower churches with their decorated columns and ceilings. One church was closed, but we heard voices inside that church. Just above eye level were little windows through which I could take some pictures of the interior of that church. IT was far from easy, since I wasn’t able to see on what I was aiming. Fortunately, some welcome help arrived. Another foreign tourist made use of his flasher, and I was able to have a glimpse at his LCD screen. I was now able to aim more precise, and I managed to obtain better images. Indeed, there were people inside the church, who gaped at the rich decorations in the church. Huge statues of saints stood in niches at both sides of the large space. The ceiling was enriched with ornaments and chandeliers. Was it a religious building? It appeared to be a kind of a chapel.
it was already late in the afternoon, we had spent some hours in Pelô (short for Pelourinho). The setting sun provided me some inspiration for some sunset images, of buildings that had gained a different color at that hour. We returned to Terreiro de Jesus. The transvestite had finished his (or her) work, and the girl was really happy with her braided hair strings. It really decorated her pretty face so nicely. When I made this compliment to her, she showed a little smile, her bronze face showed some darker spots.
We met Igor and Leo in Pelourinho. The couple and the little sisters left us, they returned to the pousada. I stayed more time in Pelô, together with Igor, Leo, and Citta. We took something to drink, it was our final night in Salvador. We didn’t resist to walk to the location where the best acarajé in town was to be found, according to Igor. He knew the city, he knew some friends and he knew the best locations. He was an excellent for us. This time, there were not separate units of acarajé for each of us, but we received a large plastic plate with a giant fried ball of corn flour, and large amounts of the acarajé ingredients, including roasted shrimps. We enjoyed this delicious snack. I shared my fork with Citta, while Leo and Igor were sharing the other fork. One acarajé wasn’t enough, we ordered another one. We also bought a bottle of coke and shared the content. For us, this acarajé was a very tasteful snack.
Axé and carnival..
It was about time to return to the pousada. We refreshed ourselves with warm shower, we dressed ourselves, and we had another snack. We returned to Pelourinho. That was Leo and Igor’s plan. The little sisters were too tired; they went to bed early. I had agreed with the couple to join them to the final party at the UFBA, the local federal university. Theme of that night was Carnaval and Axé. That made me very curious…
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: SALVADOR (46). Mercado Modelo (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)