There were a few things I expected to be the highlights of our 4 short days in Salvador.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed historical quarter of Pelourinho was definitely on the list.
With its ankle-twisting cobblestone streets.
And candy-coloured buildings set on a hillside.
It was a typical Brazilian mix of the poor and mundane next to the magical and exquisite.
Despite bad press, we felt completely safe there, thanks no doubt to the omnipresent police trucks and fully-armed policemen.High on my list of things to do in Salvador was to glut on their famous food until I passed out. Heavily African influenced, it's a daily reminder of a time when Bahia was the centre of the slave trade.
There were heart-attack inducing, gooey caramelised desserts.
Oily seafood moquecas that sat heavily in the stomach for hours after eating.
This pic and a recipe from here.
Crunchy piping hot acarajés, stuffed with dried shrimp and okra and all manner of other unknown things, deep fried in orange palm oil [dendê ], splattered with a good dollop of chilli sauce.
This pic from here because I forgot to take one.This pic from here, for precisely the same reason as above. You'll also find some info and 2 recipes for acarajés at this blog, including a VEGAN one...check that out, Ms C :)
Every acarajé stall had its version of the smiling portly Bahaina.
This pic from here.I could be wrong, but I suspect they don't really dress like this every day, just to walk to the shops.
Strangely enough, I didn't get to eat any feijoada in Salvador. But more on that another day.
Finally, of course, I was in Salvador to do capoeira!
After more than 3 weeks of travelling around Brazil and not seeing a single evidence of this martial art in its homeland, I was beginning to doubt that it really was as popular as I'd been told.
But I was sure I would see it in Bahia, because THIS was capoeira heartland.
This blurry sign [blur because of my lack of camera skills, not because it really was] is one that any capoeirista from anywhere in the world will recognise. I finally managed to do a class here.
And this is arguably the most famous face in capoeira.
This video is for those of you who've always wondered what capoeira is, but was too lazy to find out.
Of course, this is very stylized. We're a lot more sweaty when we train. And NO! [because I know you're going to ask] - I don't do any of those circus tricks because I'm too damn old.
With So Many Great Things To Do In Salvador, how did it turn out that the thing I most enjoyed there was the beach?
It's a puzzle even to me.
A few steps across the road from where we stayed.
An unpretentious scrap-sized strip of sand next to a busy road.
This pic from here.Not iconic. Nowhere near as famous as Ipanaema or Bondi. Not even particularly pretty.
#1 Beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, no need to lug your own there unless you want to.
We rented our 2 chairs and an umbrella for just 8 reais [a little more than 4 AUD] for the whole day. Who knows? That might even have been the tourist price.
And when we were ready to leave, a foot wash to clean away the sand from between our toes.
Courtesy of the man we'd rented the chairs and umbrella from.
#2 Caipirinhas, made to order on the beach.
Consumed without fear of rowdiness and king hits ensuing. Everyone was as tranquilo at the end of the day as they were at the start, despite the presence of this and other cheap álcools around.
This was something that really amazed me, coming from a binge-drinking culture where things can turn ugly so very quickly.
#3 Acarajés, fresh prawns with wedges of lime, grilled cheese and meats on sticks, fresh caught lobsters, agua de coco, soft drinks, fruit - all sold where we were on the sand.
No need to trek to the shops for a bite. No fear of ever getting peckish or thirsty.
This video [and the picture below it] were shot on a beach in Sao Luis, Maranhao. It shows how the cheese [queijo coalho] is grilled - the charcoal burner there was a little more homespun than the ones at Porto da Barra!
I can't begin to tell you how delicious these sticks of grilled cheese are.
Check the link above for the recipe. If you're able to find this type of cheese or similar at your local deli, try it. I promise you won't regret it!There weren't just food vendors on the beach. There were people selling everything a beach bum might need, from sunblocks to sarongs. It was great fun negotiating prices from the comfort of our beach chairs. And The Cushion madly bought a big blanket that we had to lug around in our backpacks for the rest of the trip.
#4 Dogs on the beach!
Some came with their owners.
Some obviously had none.
Or not. But nobody seemed to mind.
That day, at least, I didn't see anyone get upset, not even at the mangy ones, or try to shoo them away.
This one adopted us for the day.
There was enough beach for everyone to share.
#5 As the afternoon wore on, the recyclers arrived.
3 or 4 of them, cleaning up, and making a real or 2 at the same time.Brazilians, we discovered along the way, are an ingenious lot and very good at turning nothing into something.
I bought a kite for my Sister 2 on the beach [in Sao Luis, which I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of]. It was nothing more than 2 pieces of polystyrene cut to shape and painted with some bright colours. But it flew really well! Poverty is a great mother of invention.
We stayed on the praia for as long as we could. Long enough to see the tide come up and try to wash our caipirinha cart away.
Long enough to see even the food sellers and other vendors call it a day.
Until finally, the sun went down and we had to go.
I've never, in my life, been so sad to leave a beach.
An Interesting Thought.
I'm glad I got to share our day at Praia do Porto da Barra with you. It's dubious I could have done the same if it had been Bondi. I might have been chased off the sand for sticking my camera in so many faces and bums. There are many laws that govern street photography here, especially at "sensitive" areas like beaches.
If you take pictures for fun, but have enough fancy lenses and equipment to be mistaken for a National Geographic professional, you may want to check out your rights to do street photography in NSW. Just CLICK HERE.
An excerpt from this site -
"Bondi Beach has practically become a photographer's no-go area. Things were already tense in 2003 when I took this shot of young girls mucking around in the sand. Nowadays I would not even dream walking along this beach with a camera…"
Since I don't want to get into trouble, I won't post the picture mentioned, here. To see it, please visit the site.
And then, that night.
A storm arrived, complete with cold howling winds and crashing waves. It didn't stop raining for the next 2 days that we were in Salvador.