While Rio triggers dreams through its beautiness, decadence and the magical names of its beaches, Salvador fascinates, confuses and gives tourists the strongest feeling of exotism and strangeness. It's here that you can find the rithms that pound with the burning heart of Brazil. It's the result of a passionate relationship between Europe and Africa under the South-American sun.
The city is situated around the bay 'Todos Os Santos' and used to be the capital of the sugar-trade and was a cultural high-light in Brazil. The crise in the sugar-sector at the end of the 19th century, accompanied with the ending of slavery, pushed Salvador to a lower level. The sugar-barons left the city into the hands of the ex-slaves. Therefore Salvador is the most African city of Brazil.
Capoeira and colourfull percussion bands are omni-present. The most interesting neighbourhood of Salvador for a tourist is Pelourinho. Cobble-stone streets and pastel-coloured colonial buildings set the scene. Very beautiful. However, Pelourinho is surrounded by favelas and the poor (really poor) people who live there see the tourists as milk cows: begging and theft are daily routine. Therefore I bought a disposable camera to shoot my pics of Salvador. Hence I appologize for not showing a lot of picture of this marvelous town. :-( I'd like to tell some more about the favelas later on (see the entry on Rio). This problem is so big and present in Brazil that not telling about it would be uncorrect, in a way.
I spent 4 days there, which I filled with capoeira, taking drum-classes, walks along the beach, checking out the hundreds of souvenir-shops and.
.. getting my hands on a new credit-card and cash. My friend Katrien Leyssens happened to be doing volunteering work in an orphanage in a favela in Salvador. She took me to one of her capoeira-classes and she helped me out financially by giving me some pree. Merci, Katrien, merci! By the way, she is also keeping a blog, through which she calls people to donate some money, that she will spend on buying toys for the orphans. (You have to know that the only thing they have is a television and you have no idea how cheesy the Brazilian TV-programs are...). Just check kat-in-brazil.mytravelactive.nl and give whatever you like.
To my feeling capoeira can be compared with a David Lynch-movie or with Picasso's paintings: it's never really clear what the actual goal of the game/dance is, and from the moment you think you find a line in it, something new happens again that confuses you another time.
Remember the Michael Jackson clip 'they don't really care about us'. Yip... with Olodum!
As it is some kind of martial fighting-art, a certain threath is emerging from it. Another ressemblance is that it is cool to watch at and even cooler to practice it. It's very complete: it's dance, music, sports, self-defence, gymnastics, force-exercise, condition-training, hypnotizing. More-over: it allows all ages, both sexes, all races and at the same time: a 25-year old guy could fight an 8-year old kid or a 35-year old girl. In this way I really think that it brings people closer to each-other. And the governement in Brazil seems to understand it: it's taken very seriously- there are capoeira-schools with 3 or 4 especially for capoeira equipped halls. It inspires most of all the people of the favelas: it gives them a reason to gather, a forum to exchange ideas etc.
They want to be good at it, so it gives perspective. It is unique and original in the world, so it gives them something to be proud of.
You cannot miss percussion in Salvador: every tuesday boclos (percussion groups) march into the streets of Pelourinho, dragging a crowd of people with them. I think any drummer would feel like joining, so I took some classes. It's really so simple, anybody can do something from the first day he/she touches a drum, but it's just the fact that you play a few rithms at the same time that is really giving you goose-bumbs.
I think I am going to talk to the people in 'De Vrije Ateliers' in Sin-City: you just need a few drums (good quality is not necessary),... and people. (I guess this is the most difficult part in Western Europe: finding people with time.
.. :-( ) Anyway, it's just soooo cooool!
Who doesn't remember the Michael Jackson clip 'they don't care about us'? This movie was recorded in Pelourinho and the percussion band in the clip was Olodum, one of the most famous boclos in the world. Every sunday they give either a performance or a rehearsal. Ik daarnaartoe!
Just check the photos and the movies!