November 25 in Salvador, Bahia
Salvador, Brazil is a huge city of several million people. Its reputation for violence persists. Yet, arriving early it floated on the sea, and beckoned. Not like Rio with its green hills, but it looked intriguing. Our short stay took us into the old “Upper City” of colonial buildings, restored and painted and full of pleasant shops, restaurants and small government run museums. Police presence and warnings kept us in a fairly small area that is safe. It is surrounded by favelas, those amazing housing complexes that are embedded in Brazilian cities rather than only on the outskirts. Here is a glimpse of the Upper City.
We arrived on November 25 when there is an annual festival to celebrate the women of Bahia–the women who when freed from slavery knew how to cook, so in order to survive put their kitchens in the street and sold food. They are still there, and the food is uniquely theirs. As we approached the ‘slave church’ at noon, the festival procession was just entering. The church was crowded, and there was singing in call and response, the sounds of cymbals and drums, swaying bodies, incense, the tray of food being offered for a blessing; a mix of Catholic and ‘Candomble’, the religion the Yoruba brought with them from West Africa. Here is how it felt up close. I found the necklaces, bracelets, and rings wonderful.
More beads and rings.
And the food…
Outside the church is the gate, people kept arriving and tied ribbons to make wishes. The ribbons’ colors have meaning, and you tie three knots for three wishes, and also for the Trinity. The Catholic and Candomble messages, the ceremonies, the traditions and the people are all tied together.
What luck to be there on the one day of the year this happens.