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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

History, Art and Drumming in Pelourinho - Day 426

An exhausting day of History, Art and Drumming in Pelourinho - phew - we need a lie-down!

We had a four-hour walking tour and in the evening booked to see the famous Olodum drumming band. It was an exhausting day, but we didn’t do as much as we were expecting, so why so tired?

The day started with Tim popping out to get food for another long bus ride for tomorrow, while I coached a client. Once finished we treated ourselves to a lovely lunch in a Bijoux hotel in the heart of Pelourinho. Our Airbnb is cheap and a bit run-down, so the cost balanced itself out.

We got to the main square and watched a group of Capoeira kicking and doing fancy handstands, all part of their Martial Arts. (It looked quite a bit different to what we did in Paraty!). Back to Aquarela Tours and waited for our guide, Andre to come. It seemed that we had booked a private tour, which was great, so we updated Andre with what we did yesterday, so we could see some different places.

We wandered around some of the smaller streets and came to a dead-end which had a great view overlooking the city. I was amazed how many churches we could see, without trying we could see eight in a small area, and I am sure Andre said there were over 400 in Salvador.

On the way back he introduced us to his artist friend, Raimundos, a jolly chap. We both loved his art, it was joyful and full of colour. Andre explained to him that “the world is our home”, and he was so excited hearing this. He gave us a couple of tiny business cards with his artwork on them and then instructed me that when we eventually settle down, we can have them framed with a nice coloured border around them. Just as we were leaving, one of the lead singers of the Olodum band we were seeing later turned up. A quick photo opportunity. Funny, once we finished our tour, both Tim and I agreed that this was the best bit. We so love chatting with interesting people.

We carried on our walk, it was scorching hot and humid, and so we dived into one of the many museums here, the Museu da Gastronomia Baiana. A rather weird choice. The museum is dedicated to art-food, valuing the different food systems of Bahia in historical, cultural, social and gastronomic contexts. Sadly, it had a rather unpleasant smell, so I wasn’t concentrating much. Perhaps it was some of the weird foods, the large bottles of thick palm oil that looked as if they had seen better days or that the building was constructed around part of the original fortress wall from the 1500s.

Passing through Largo do Pelourinho, we arrived at the beautiful Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos, otherwise known as the “black” church. Not that it is black, it is a stunning powder blue and took 50 years to build in the 1800s by a brotherhood of enslaved Africans. We carried on our walk, and Andrea took us to the other side of the town to an affluent residential area. Neat houses, very well maintained and all painted various colours.

During our walk we passed many churches, some open, many closed and popped our heads into a few. At one, Andrea told us about a sad story where a man’s donkey was hit by a tree that had been struck by lightning. The man loved his donkey and was devastated that it was hurt. He decided to do penance and carry a large cross from his village to the church where we were standing. When he reached the church, they refused him entry as he was doing the penance to an African God rather than the Christian God. A large gathering formed and cut a long story short, the man was killed. The Capoeira lifted the cross and forced it into the church. I don’t know what became of the cross or the donkey for that matter!

On our tour, we heard a lot about the various African Gods. The African slaves were very ingenious and were still able to celebrate their own gods but under the guise of Christian saints. For example, when they were worshipping Saint Barbara, associated with lightning, they were, in fact, worshipping Xangô, their African God of lightning. We discovered more in the Afro-Brazilian Museum. There were a few masks, pots and other religious symbols here, but it was the last room that Tim and I loved. Twenty Seven large panels of cedar that lined the room had been carved by Brazilian-Italian Artist Carybé to represent the various gods. They were incredible.

Our tour had ended, we were exhausted. Our tour guide was lovely, yet we were talked at, rather than being actively engaged, like our tour guide in Paraty did so well. Our heads started to hurt, and our eyes were glazing over with all the information being thrown at us. We are both active learners, we like to be involved.

We had an hour and a half to kill before the Olodum concert started. We popped into the “Black” church; it was crowded so we couldn’t see much, then onto a small café for some food. But while we were walking up the cobbled street, so were a crowd of trainees from the Olodum training school walking up as well, banging their drums. The noise was deafening but good fun. I did notice some of the drummers wearing earplugs; very wise.

We got to Olodum but for some reason (see tomorrow) we couldn’t yet go in. They kept saying that it was starting at 8pm, but it was already past that time. We eventually got in to see that the band were being filmed. I smiled for the camera as it pointed in our direction! We made our way to the back of the hall, as the bass was vibrating all through our bodies – oh, my punk days are finally over! We didn’t stay long, both of us were feeling shattered. Oh dear, are we becoming like two old fuddy-duddies? I do hope not.

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