Apr 27, 2009
I post this short translation of my Blog (which is in Flemish). This is how I experienced my trip… Sorry for my bad English-

After my Brazilian “hang over” (Sao Paolo, a couple of years ago, ugly and dangerous), we wanted to try it again. Rio was on top of our “to do list”, but as it is (due to safety reasons) nog possibe to walk around with a camera, I was not really keen on going there anymore. My camera is my eyes, without it I am as blind as a mole.

As we are not really beach or pool people, we decided to go to the 2nd tourist place, the city of Salvador de Bahia. Founded around 1550 it was the 1st capital of the Portugues kolonies, and for long it was the most important town beneath the equator. It became big through its trade, tabacco and the huge sugar cane plantations. And not to forget : the slave trade. Slavery was only abolished around 1880!

So it comes as no surprise that the black culture is ever present in Salvador. 78% is black. In Bahia the African (slave) culture was never prohibited : they were alowed to keep their customs and habbits. So the Baian food is mainly African food, with some Portuguese influences and a lot of seafood. Everywhere on the streets you see capoeira (a sort of African dance-fight) and everywhere you hear the African music (Olodum).

So when we arrived in Salvador, we felt more like we were in Africa then in Brazil. Or maybe I should say that we just didn’t expect this. We were not prepaired. If we wanted Africa, we would have gone to Africa. Not only was everybody black, they were also ugly! I certainly did not expect that!. Sometimes you see a beautiful face but then there is this huge backside and a hang-belly. It seems that all of them are fat! It must be the african fast food I guess. We also found them agressive, they hassle you all the time and they are (generally) not friendly; Above that I absolutely hate the language and think it sounds ugly. They speak no English. For a cheap watch (like the ones we were wearing) they stick at you like glue, for a bag (with or without valuables) the attack you. (our friends were forced under the thread of a knife to give their bags with only beach stuff inside).

Even if you take a stroll with no watch/cell/camera/bag, we seemed to have this huge sticker on our forehead “we are tourists! Please hassle us!!”. We were advised not to go out after 22h and it was true : after that time you saw nobody, exept the drunk and the stoned.

55% of the population of Bahia lives in the Favellas, 20% is unemployed. That should say enough.

Nevertheless the historic center is really beautifull, baroc houses painted in lively colours, and in between old broken ugly houses. Due to the humid climate all the houses that haven’t been painted for a while have a black mould on the walls.( A photographer's paradise. If only it were safe to take your camera..)

Everywhere you see left overs from long gone richness, in the wonderfull architecture. There seem to be over 60 fortresses that look like fortified villas right now, where I wouldn’t mind living (only if I didn’t have to go out). There are over 160 churches in town. That means more then 1 church per street.

The people are also very religious – Only catholics were allowed on the Portuguese ground, so upon arrival in Salvador, the slaves were babtised into catholicism, when they continued praying for their African gods they were beaten. So they invented this mixture of the different religions : they associated their african gods with (similar) catholic saints, and then prayed for those saints. The catholics didn’t know, the slaves were happy. Today this is generally accepted and they are even proud of this mixture.

Today they still go to church a lot (churches are full) and from december to februari they constantly have religious parties and processions. They are also very supersticious.

One of the most famous religious-superstition things are the coloured ribbons. Every colour represents a god, (or a saint) and if you put them around your wrist in a certain way you can do a wish. You can also tie them at the church of Senhor de Bonfim, and do a wish. You are certain that it will come true! There is even a “miracle room” in this church, where you can thank the Lord for doing that certain miracle. Interesting…

As soon as you leave Salvador the world changes. We decided to drive out north, to Praia do Forte. Beautiful paradise beaches. Great! The people are a lot friendlier here, what a relief! Brazil is after all –and maybe in the first place- a beach country. Next time we might go more inland, to the Amazon, the Diamond Falls or who knows, to the beach.

So –good for us- there wasn’t really much more to do then relax, be lazy, dine out, relax a bit more and be lazy again. A perfect holiday for a long deserved –last minute- vacacion without kids!
Just to make sure nobody misunderstands me : I am absolutely NO racist :eek:
"dança-luta" in portuguese

wiki says this :
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves brought from Africa, especially from present day Angola some time after the 16th century. It was developed in the regions known as Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro. Participants form a roda, or circle, and take turns either playing musical instruments (such as the Berimbau), singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, and extensive use of sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws. Its origins and purpose are a matter of debate, with theories ranging from views of Capoeira as a uniquely Brazilian folk dance with improvised fighting movements to claims that it is a battle-ready fighting form directly descended from ancient African techniques.
Historians are divided between those who believe it is a direct descendant of African fighting styles and those who believe it is a uniquely Brazilian dance form distilled from various African and Brazilian influences. One popular explanation holds that it is an African fighting style that was developed in Brazil, as expressed by a proponent named Salvano, who said, "Capoeira cannot exist without black men but its birthplace is Brazil".
Praia do Forte is full of European investors. Its superficial, and has no culture. Sure, the beach is pretty, but it's not a good example of the greatness of Brasil.
That is true, European and south-brazilian inverstors. There is no culture at all, it is just touristy. The culture is the city, that is certain!!
Moreover it is not possible to catch the "greatness of brazil" in 1 week, nor 1 place.
I am not claiming I know Brazil now that I 've been there for 1 week, I just wrote down what my experiences are, that is very personal. For me it was mostly the feeling of insecurity I didn't like. Also not being able to just enjoy without being bothered. But that is just me...:rolleyes: