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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 20 February, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Night bus enroute to Salvador
Finish Hotel Chile, Salvador S1258.402' W03830.655' 71 m 600 km (by bus)

Leg 3 Total:

2,591 km

Leg 2 Total:

12,140 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

24,512 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot.

 

 

The overnight bus from Porto Seguro arrived in Salvador on time at six-thirty in the morning.  It was a very comfortable trip.  Once we unloaded at the bus station, we found an efficient taxi service that took us quickly to our hotel in the old city of Salvador.  We checked into the hotel and after dropping off our bags, we were ready to explore.

 

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A bit of background - the foundation of Salvador in 1549 marked the beginning of the permanent occupation of the country by the Portuguese.  Located on a bay which provided excellent anchorage, Salvador was the capital of Brazil for over two centuries.  But the settlement of Salvador and the surrounding area of Bahia was not easy.  The local Caete Indians, so we are told, killed and ate both the first governor and bishop before they were defeated.  They then had to fight off the Dutch, who briefly occupied the city in 1624.  The wealth of the city came from the sugar cane and tobacco plantations that sprang up in the areas around Salvador.  The population of Salvador today is largely black as it was Brazil's main slave port where slaves brought from the Gold Coast and Angola arrived.

 

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While Salvador today is a huge city, much of the old buildings and churches survive in the small district known as the old city.  Today we set out to explore the old city.  First stop is the tourist information office - they are very helpful and give us quite a bit of information.  And then, an important stop at the coffee shop for a drink and a snack to refresh us.

 

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We wander the streets and try to take in all the sights.  Pretty much all of the old buildings have been preserved and restored.  It is a very compact and easy to walk around in, except for the uneven cobblestones and the hills that we are constantly climbing up and down.  The primary attractions are all the many churches scattered around the old town.  It is amazing how many churches one town can have.

 

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Some we get a chance to wander into (in some cases for a fee) and others are closed.  Some are clearly still in use, some are being restored and some are more like museums rather than working churches.

 

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The square at Pelarinho is very impressive, with the church and brightly painted buildings forming a wonderful triangle.  The open space gives you a chance to get a good view of the church and the architecture.

 

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We take a brief afternoon siesta to cool down, nap and take a quick shower before we head out to look at the sunset.  We head down craggy fifty meter bluff to the Cidade Baixa, the commercial heart of the old part of town.  We go to the Mercado Modelo, the old covered market.  It is now full of things for tourists to buy.  We do not have too much time until the sun sets, so with only a quick glance at the many stalls, we head up to the second floor to a restaurant there where we can have a drink on a balcony overlooking the harbor and bay while the sun sets.  It is a magical moment sitting there watching the sun go down as the colors in the sky change while we sip our caipiroscas.

 

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One the sunset was finished, we took our final sips of our drinks and the headed back up to Cidade Alta.  This time we take the Art Deco lift up to the top of the bluff.  It costs us only 2 US cents.  It is quick and efficient.  Once back up on top, we wander into town to have dinner before we head off to the show.  We see the Bale Folclorico da Bahia - folk dancing of Bahia.  It is a spectacular performance.  The costumes, music and dancing is fantastic.  It is hard to describe it.

 

The show included Capoeira, which is a graceful semi-balletic art form somewhere between dancing and fighting.  Its origins are from Angola where it was a ritual fight to gain the nuptial rights of women.  Once in Brazil, the slaves practiced it as a way to keep in shape and prepare to fight when they made their attempt to escape from slavery.  It was disguised as a form of dance so that the slave owners would not realise that their slaves were in training to escape.  It is amazing to watch - the speed and coordination is astounding.

 

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After the show we wandered through the streets before heading back to our hotel for the night.

 

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