Capoeira is a mix of dance,sport and martial art, very common in Salvador. Here you see groups of people playing and learning Capoeira’s moves, specially in the old part of the city, to the sound of typical instruments like the atabaque, the berimbau and the pandeiro . I am crazy about the sound of atabaques and any kind of drums, so I love Capoeira´s music.
The sport is practiced by men and women of all classes and age groups. Capoeira traces its origins to the black culture and is,undoubtedly one of Salvador’s greatest riches. I´ve tried to play Capoeira, but it didn´t work!!
Tropicalia was a movement that shook Brazilian popular music and culture in the late 1960s. It manifested itself in music, theatre, poetry and plastic arts, however it's associated almost exclusively with the movement's musical expression that combined North American rock, psychedelic, avantgarde music, funk and soul with Brazilian and other latin american styles. Leaders were Bahian singer-songwriters Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and other musicians associated with the movement Gal Costa, Tom Ze and Os Mutantes. The 1968 collaboration album Tropicalia: ou Panis et Circenses is considered the musical manifesto and the songs Alegria, Alegria (Joy, Joy) by Caetano and Domingo no Parque (Sunday in the Park) by Gilberto Gil the milestones of the new movement.
Tropicalia was a passionate and inteligently articulated response to military dictatorship which had taken over the country in 1964 and the ultimate counter-cultural statement - a true revolution that re-defined Brazilian art and re-shaped Brazilian identity. In part, tropicalia was also a reaction to the perceived stodginess of bossa nova music, which had been the dominant pop style since the late 1950s. Tropicalia and bossa nova have both come to be referred to as part of MPB, Musica Popular Brasileira.
This revolucionary artistic movement lasted for a little more than a year and ended up being repressed by the military government. Its end began with the imprisonment of Gil and Caetano in December 1968. Ironically, Gilberto Gil, one of the prime architects of Tropicalia and one-time thorn in the side of then military regime, is now minister of culture in the government of president Lula. In the joyously anarchic spirit of Tropicalia, Gil juggles his music career and politics with some style, regularly getting his guitar out and singing songs in the middle of government meetings.
By the 1980s Bahia's musical scene had become thoroughly Africanized. The influence of the Filhos de Gandhi, Olodum, Ile Aiye and other blocos inspired a surge in Afro-Brazilian consciousness. Bahian popular music was suddenly full of Yoruba words, Candomble images and references to Africa and Jamaica. And the trios electricos started to present afro-electrico music.
Axe music is not exactly about a style or musical movement, but rather about a useful brand name given to artists from Salvador da Bahia who made music upon northeastern Brazilian, Caribbean and African rhythms with a pop-rock twist, which helped them take over the Brazilian hit parades since 1992. Axe is a ritual greeting used in Candomble and Umbanda (African-Brazilian religions), meaning 'good vibrations'.
Tested within the height of Carnival heat, axe songs have been commercially successful in Brazil throughout the past decade. It was particularly fortunate for the artists Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Banda Eva, Chiclete com Banana, Ara Ketu, Banda Beijo, Banda Cheiro de Amor, Asa de Aguia, Terra Samba and E o Tchan.
As axe relished with commercial popularity, several artists were searching for creative alternatives for the music from Bahia. The most significant step was taken by Timbalada, percussion/vocal group led by Carlinhos Brown, whose idea was to rescue the sound of the timbaus (bass drums), long restricted to Candomble rituals. Carlinhos Brown later left Timbalada and started his solo career while Timbalada continued. I have to say that I really admire all his work and projects. He's sooo good... he's just amazing!! You can convince yourself by watching those excellent video clips:
Carlinhos Brown & Timbalada - Yemanja Moderna (1998)
Timbalada no Carnaval de Salvador (2006)
Carlinhos Brown: Garoa (2007)
* 2 tablespoons dende oil
* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 pounds fresh medium sized prawns, shelled, deveined
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 4 large tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
* 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
* 1 teaspoon black pepper,
* 1 fresh red cayenne pepper
* 1 can coconut milk (14 fl oz)
Heat the oil (dende oil, palm oil found in some African specialized stores), and stir fry the onion until golden brown. Add the garlic and prawns. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add the salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, parsley, pepper, cayenne and coconut milk. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
If you want to add fish to the moqueca, use sea bass, cut in small pieces, and cook it together with the coconut milk.
Fondest memory: I tried my hardest not to order this at every meal.... I did have it three times at three different restaurants though. It generally comes to you extremely hot in a cast iron skillet type thing with a side of coconut flavored rice. I want it right now. I bought the oil (dende) and brought it home to attempt making it myself.
image to come
Nearly all the banks have the Cirrus and Maestro signs but from my experience not all of them I could withdraw money from with my cashcard.
With a British (I think European too but not 100% sure) debit card you can only withdraw from HSBC... which is about a 5 minute walk from the bottom of the elavator... I was also able to withdraw from the cashpoint upstairs in Mercado Modelo, although this one did have a charge.
Fondest memory: HSBC has a branch on Avenida Marquês de Caravelas, 355, in Barra. The ATMs accept Cirrus, Maestro, Mastercard, and American Express
Pelourinho used to be a very dangorous place but today it has become a very safe place as the place is swarming with tourist police who are there only to make sure nothing happens to the visitng tourists.
They are almost on every street corner and are very easy to recognise if you need help.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pelourinho ('old town') has the largest assemblage of colonial–era buildings in the New World. Especially notable are its several baroque/rococo cathedrals.
Live music performances are presented most nights; among the bands that play is the world–famous Grupo Olodum.
The people are friendly and the local cuisine — heavily influenced by the African roots of 80 percent of Salvadoreans — is delicious.
Fondest memory: Marinated and sugared lime rinds at Uauá, where I had a small dining room all to myself — the very same room both in January 2002 and in July 2003. (See restaurant 'tips.')
Salvador's traditional center is the area of Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta, the lower city and the upper city. Cidade Baixa is where you'll find many banks and businesses. Mercado modelo is here. The Federal Police office, where you can renew your visa, is close. It's on the way to the ferry terminal where you can catch a ferry boat to Itaparica and Morro de São Paulo. The Lacerda Elevator links the upper city to the lower city. Pelourinho is in Cidade Alta.
This picture shows a little bit of Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta. To the left of this picture you would find Mercado Modelo and Elevador Lacerda. Behind me, from where I took this picture, there is a smaller boat that you can take to Mar Grande on Itaparica. It's quicker than the ferry boat. It holds about 20 people or so.
The church in the center of this picture is called Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia. It was first built in Portugal then brought to Brazil piece by piece.
In Salvador you encounter people in need quite a bit.
Some are selling necklaces of wood or coconut for a small price, some are selling ice cold water for a real or two reals and some just walk up to you and ask for whatever it is you're eating or drinking...
Fondest memory: It's perfectly cool to just give it to them, be it ice cream, a bottle of water, some acaraje you just purchased from a street vendor... They are so grateful.
Favorite thing: You will immediately notice that Salvador has a very different culture than other parts of Brazil. The African influence is obvious in the delicious food, the vibrant colors, the music and the faces of the people. The heart of Salvador is Pelourinho, the historic center which boasts some impressive colonial architecture and some of the city's best restaurants, museums, music venues and stores.
The bahia (bay) is always present... This picture was taken from cidade alta (high city) and shows a part of the bay, the monument to Bahian woman and on the left side, the Lacerda Elevator.
La bahía está siempre presente...
La foto fue sacada desde la "cidade alta" (ciudad alta) y muestra parte de la bahía, el monumento a la mujer bahiana y a la izquierda, el Elevador Lacerda.
Brazil offers a number of banks, unfortunately not all accept international cards. In a number of cases I was not able to draw money at all, even though the bank should have accepted the card or the ATM was simply broken.
If you arrive in Brazil during carnival you will find all banks closed and hardly any foreign exchanges open. What makes matters worse that some shops during this time do not accept foreign currency.
This was my experience during carnival 2007 where I could not get Brazilian currency and could at some points not pay, even in tourist shops!!
It is said that Bahia has 365 churchs, one for each day of the year.
I do not know if that is true, but there are a lot of beautiful churchs, especially at Pelourinho, the ancient district.
Sao Francisco's church has an awesome nave, covered by gold (altough the aisles are devoid, because they were destinated to slaves).
It is a magnificent baroque church, but it has a big contradiction: Sao Francisco was a man who preached poverty...
Se dice que Bahía tiene 365 iglesias, una para cada día del año.
No sé si esto es cierto, bero hay muchísimas iglesias hermosas, especialmente en le Pelourinho, el barrio antiguo.
La iglesia de San Francisco tiene una nave central impresionante, cubierta de oro (aunque las naves laterales son despojadas, porque estaban destinadas a los esclavos).
Es una magnífica iglesia barroca, pero existe en ella una gran contradicción: San Francisco fue un hombre que predicó la pobreza...
Favorite thing: Salvador da Bahia is quickly becoming THE place to go for Carnaval, so don't be surprised if in the near future, party goers from all over the world are bypassing Rio in favor of Salvador. As a result of this and other factors, the officials in Salvador have put a lot of money into the tourist infrastructure. There's a new airport and new roads. I've read that as recently as the 1980s, walking the streets of Pelourinho was unsafe, but these days there is a heavy police presence here, hotels are plentiful and the tourist informaiton stands are always easy to find.
Praia do Porto da Barra is the closest beach to the centre of town.
The beach is really popular among the locals and can be very crowded (especially on Sundays), but is a fun place to hang out.
It not the biggest beach in the world, but it’s sandy and the water is clear and calm.
The beach is loaded with vendors selling anything you can think about and along the waterfront you’ll find many bars and restaurants.