Bahia, a region along the Atlantic coast, in the northeast of Brazil, is known for its laid back lifestyle and friendly people -- a natural place for us to unwind in the last two weeks of our trip. We begin our visit in the city of Salvador, a port on the
Bahia de Todos os Santos, the largest bay on Brazil´s coast. A very old city that was at the hub of the Portuguese sugar cane trade, it now has a population of 3 million and continues to be an important port as Brazil develops its sugar cane-based ethanol industry.
We have chosen to stay in the district of Pelourinho, the heart of the old city that lay derelict for many years before its recent renaissance (that is only partially fulfilled). Accessible only to pedestrians, it has become a lively center of entertainment, arts and tourism. During the centuries of sugar cane production, the Portuguese enslaved approximately 4.5 million African people and transported them to Brazil. At the center of this, and with a population that is 80% Afro-Brazilian, Bahia has developed a culture based on African influences and traditions.
African traditions and religion meld with Brazilian catholicism, music and food have their roots in African traditions that have been preserved in spite of the peoples´ captivity. Capoeira, an Angolan martial arts practice is a popular form of sport/recreation that we see almost everywhere we go. The food here is delicious (and spicy, unlike everywhere else we have been). The image below was taken while Rob and Amy were buying Bahian delicacies to share at their respective offices.
The streets at night are filled with people out to enjoy neighbors and friends and to meet new. Music - rock, reggae, drum corps (below) of all ages and descriptions, church events - seem to occur at every corner. Going out at night is very entertaining and we have met the friendliest people.
To digress, Bahia is also blessed with beautiful beaches and rainforest. On a break from the energy of the city, we visited a beach to the north where they have established a project to help preserve the sea turtles that nest on Brazilian beaches. Just thought you might like to see some baby turtles - nine million were born last year.