(Religious) Performance & Cocktails

Salvador da Bahia Travel Blog

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Elevador Lacerda on a sunny day

Taxi journey negotiated I was trying to negotiate my bearing in the Pelhourino when I experienced my first (and only) bit of hassle; a guy came up to me and was insistent that I go see his hostel/ pousada, after consistently telling him I had a reservation elsewhere I had to finally resort to International Sign language, not my favoured method of communication but in situations like this was definitely justified.
After checking into my new hostel I headed off to a Candomble ceremony in one of Salvador's favela's (don't worry it was with a guide), the ceremony itself  is a religious ceremony that was bought over to Brazil with the African slaves. There were at the peak of the evening around 200 people our guide estimated crammed into this tiny highly decorated hall, with very little air-con and sweltering heat.

Carnival Mask, Pelhourino
It was a really interesting thing to see as our guide told us we were witnessing a rare invent, an intiation into the Candomble religion. The women were dressed in volumous lace dresses and the male drummers pounded out various beats along with bells chimming over the top of the beat. The men and women taking part all danced around in a circle to the beat and every so often the dance would change and the initiates would be ushered in each time (seven in total) before they were initiated. While it was a long and hard work on the feet as well as feel like we were in a sauna it was something which I'm glad I experienced and got to understand a little more about.
Sunday, my final day was a pretty chilled affair as I'd visited most things in Salvador that were high on my list except for the Church of Bonfim, so off I ventured on a bus to see why this place attracts so many visitors.
Church of Bonfim
The church built in the 18th-century is where all of the pedlars in the Pelhourino get their 'fitas', coloured ribbons which people tie to their wrists with three knots, with each knot a wish is made and you have to wear the fita until it falls off for the wishes to come true (cutting it of brings bad luck so I'm told).
The church itself sits at the top of a hill with amazing views across the city and as well as buying fitas to tie to your wrist you can buy a bunch to tie to the gates outside, as a result the gates are festooned with a plethora of colours that streamed in the passing breeze - a great sight to see and one which in the sun would not fail to cheer up even the most miserable of people. I am not usually one for superstition but the fita I am now wearing is as much a symbol of my time in Bahia as it is for the hope that the areas where I need some luck in my life come good.
Fitas tied to the gates outside

The reason why many come to Bonfim is that they believe the place has the power to cure people's ills, the Room of Miracles as its known is a little bit of a spooky scene with replicas of various body parts in wood and wax that people want curing hanging from the ceiling and the walls are covered in pictures of the cured and those hoping to be cured. The church also holds special significance to those who practice the Candomble religion as for a time their religion was banned and in order to be pratictised openly they syncronized their gods with the figures in the bible, with Jesus Christ (Nosso Senhor do Bonfim) representing Oxala their highest deity and therefore the church of Bonfim is their most important church.
After snapping away like a Japanese tourist I had to brave my fear of a new language and ask how to get the bus back to the city centre, which I successfully managed (I am hoping my range of Portuguese sayings will grow over 6 weeks).
Room of Miracles
The evening I headed out to the city with a Dutch friend, Anook, to sample some of Pelhorinho's live music. It was a great evening sitting out in the city streets sinking Caipirinahs and some good tunes whilst trying to fend off the street pedlars!

Well I hope that gives a flavour of my time in Bahia, next stop BRASILIA!

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Elevador Lacerda on a sunny day
Elevador Lacerda on a sunny day
Carnival Mask, Pelhourino
Carnival Mask, Pelhourino
Church of Bonfim
Church of Bonfim
Fitas tied to the gates outside
Fitas tied to the gates outside
Room of Miracles
Room of Miracles
Inside Bonfim
Inside Bonfim
Fresco inside Bonfim
Fresco inside Bonfim
Fitas blowing in the wind
Fita's blowing in the wind
View over Salvador
View over Salvador