Praia do Forte – Getting out of Salvador


(photo: by Michael Reckling)

Praia do Forte is a little over one hour north of Salvador and doubles as a fishing town and an eco-resort. Judging by the pictures of the area, it seems reminiscent of São Sebastião on the coast of São Paulo, only the water looks better. One can find the official site here (in PT, photos from the site) with a list of all the things one can do there, such as swimming in natural pools, relaxing on the various beaches, visiting the Garcia D’Ávila Castle or the Fisherman’s village.

Also between June and October, many whales pass through the Brazilian waters off the coast and for that reason, Praia do Forte has a whale conservation center called the Baleia Jubarte Institute. If you are looking for something a little smaller, check out the Project Tamar which showcases the four kinds of marine turtles that lay their eggs on the local beach. In the case you want to do some hiking, the Sapiranga Reserve nearby comes highly recommended.

To get an idea of how Praia do Forte is situated, see this colorful map. To find out how to get there, check this out (in PT)

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Rapadura – Dried sugarcane juice


(Source)

Rapadura is the Portuguese name for a form of sugarcane juice, used as a sweetener or as a candy, common in Brazil and more specifically, the Northeast. It is dried sugarcane juice, in the form of a brick, and is largely produced on site at sugarcane plantations in the very warm tropical regions. It was originally created as an easier way to transport sugar.

“Rapadura along with a traditional Indian medicine called Jaggery, are the only sweeteners made from sugar cane that are not refined. They are squeezed, dried, and ground, that’s it. The juice is not separated, dried and then reunited with its more nutritious counterpart (molasses) in artificial proportions as are raw, brown and black sugar, demerara and sucanat.” – Source

The making of rapadura is a bit of a process, as can be seen briefly in the short video below.

Controversy

Despite the fact that rapadura is a very old foodstuff, predating even the colonization of Brazil, a German company called Rapunzel has registered the name as a German trade mark, an event that has greatly angered Brazilians, as they see the name as a generic all-purpose word, like “lemonade” or “sandwich”.

I wanna go back to Bahia – Paulo Diniz

Eu Quero Voltar pra Bahia
Paulo Diniz

I don’t wanna to be here*
I want to go back to Bahia

I have been walking around so lonely
Others look but they don’t see
The silence in my guitar
Not even I know why
All of a sudden it became cold
I didn’t come here to be happy
Where’s my golden sun?
Where are the things of my country?

* – When using the informal ‘wanna’, the correct formal translation would be ‘want to’ therefore ‘wanna to’ doesn’t make sense…but who cares, it’s a great song!

Museu Tempostal – Pelourinho

“Did you know the postcard was invented by Emmanuel Hermann? The Austrian professor first put a paper backing on a photograph and tossed it in the mail in 1869. By 1880, they were legal post in Brazil. In 1904 the first colored card appeared. Useless trivia? Well, maybe. But considering how many of these things are sent and received throughout the world, it’s a wonder how little thought they get. This fun little museum boasts a large collection of postcards dating from the 1880s to the 1990s. Most are of Salvador itself; viewing the collection is a wonderful way to see how the city grew and changed. Indeed, it’s much better than the city museum. There’s also a collection of cards from the turn of the last century; even during the Belle Epoque people liked to have photos taken of themselves in silly costumes.” – Source

The Museum Tempostal holds around 45,000 postcards, collected by a native of Sergipe who grew up in Salvador. The postcards mainly cover the transformation of Salvador as a city, including bairros like Rio Vermelho, Cidade Baixa and Graça as well as some areas around Salvador, such as the Recôncavo region. Aside from postcards, one will find old photos and stamps in the restored colonial building which houses the museum.

Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun 1pm-5pm (call for exact hours)
Address: Rua Gregório dos Matos 33, Pelourinho district
Phone: 071/3117-6383
Admission: Free

Ximxim de Galinha


(source)

Ximxim de Galinha is a typically Bahian meal which roughly translates to what is known as Chicken Fricassee (poultry cut into pieces and stewed in gravy). Just like acarajé, ximxim de galinha makes up part of the Candomblé religion’s ritual food.

Generally, you’ll have the chicken (of course), dendê oil, shrimp as well as various spices and vegetables mixed in. Here’s the full recipe. Enjoy!

The Tororó Jetty – Salvador

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The dique (dam, bank, jetty) was constructed by the Dutch that inhabited Salvador starting from the year 1624. For decades, it was abandoned but in 1998, it was urbanized. The Dique de Tororó (tororó means ‘small talk’, but is also the neighborhood where the lagoon is located) is the only natural spring in Salvador registered by the Institute of Heritage and National Art. It delineates the northern-most region of the Upper City (Cidade Alta) of Salvador.

Aside from the lake which is part of the dique, the area contains a jogging track (called a ‘pista de cooper‘), an area for rowboats, fishing decks, piers for small boats, equipment for sports and gymnastics, playgrounds, as well as a Activity Center and an Events Plaza. The center also has restaurants and parking for 150 cars. In the middle of the lagoon, there’s a floating stage for the implementation of shows and spectacles as well as an architectural ensemble of diverse orixás (African deities) which compliment the beauty of the region and show off the religious aspects of the city.

Historically, the water from the jetty was used by the inhabitants of the city, and there’s even a popular four-verse carol (called a quadrinha) that speaks to the days when the water dried up.

“Eu fui ao Tororó
Beber água e não achei
Encontrei linda morena
Que no Tororó deixei…”

“I went to Tororó
To drink water but all I found
Was a pretty morena
Who I left in Tororó…”

Salvador gets rained on…a lot

“On Tuesday May 5th, Salvador, the original capital of Brazil, experienced moments of desperation with the strong rain that overran the whole city. Hundreds of incidents were reported to the Civil Defense, which had recorded 392 requests for emergency care by 7pm of the same day. In addition to collapsed houses, fallen trees and landslides, there were also massive traffic jams which brought chaos to drivers and commuters.

Deaths were reported in areas where houses are condemned due to lack of infrastructure and the imminent risk of collapse, three of them in the neighborhood of Pirajá. Also, a mother and a daughter fell into a canal and were dragged away by the strong current. The mother’s body was found on Wednesday morning, the daughter’s only one day after, on May 7th.

The event, which was considered a catastrophe by the population, is another case of the type of natural disaster that in the past used to hit the city with less magnitude. In addition to this,  it reveals a lack of proper housing and urban planning in the biggest Brazilian cities, as local authorities neglect the unrestrained growth of houses and shanty towns on the slopes, further exposing residents to the risk of accidents and even death.”  – Source

Basement of the Modelo Market

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In the porão (basement) of the Mercado Modelo in the Cidade Baixa area of Salvador, lies the senzala (slave quarters) where slaves, brought to Colonial Bahia from Africa, were chained to the walls until being sold. The Mercado Modelo, being the city’s third Customs House, had an area reserved for receiving shipments arriving from the open seas. One of the serious problems that faced the slaves was the fact that the porão lies below sea level and therefore would, from time to time, fill up with water and take many lives. These days, the area is open to visitation and offers raised slabs of concrete which allow the visitor to tour the basement even when the tide is high. Watching the short clip below, it’s easy to imagine the lights being lanterns and the sounds in the dead of the night being frightening for those that were held captive there.