A staggeringly beautiful northeastern state, Bahia is place where Africa meets South America in an attractively distinctive destination. The soul of Brazil, it is a place that manifests the country’s warm, vibrant culture.
Stand in the center of this majestic city, listening to the rhythmic beats of African drums gaping at the Portuguese architecture and Catholic churches, and you will feel how each alluring site of the city depicts the nature of a woman who is strong, independent and possesses the caliber to conquer the world with her sheer intellect.
SALVADOR AND THE HISTORIC PELOURINHO
Salvador is an amalgamation of old and new, of European and African culture, the best of which come together to create an indelible stew of dance, music and culture. Walking along the cobblestone streets, laced between pastel colored buildings, you will be welcomed by Portugal’s first colonial city in Brazil. The Portuguese brought African slaves here, traditions of whom remain till date.
Travel to the upper Salvador and discover the historic town centre of Pelourinho where you can see displays of bare-chested men twist, contort and fling their bodies in capoeira, a martial art form that can be traced back to Africa. Take the Elevador Lacerda and witness the modern Salvador where you can indulge in delightful treats and witness authentic Bahian handicrafts and arts.
And if it’s a Tuesday, don’t forget to be a part of Terca sa Bencao or Blessed Tuesday and dance to the beats of the Afro-Brazilian drummers, all through the city ending at the town center.
SANTOS OR THE ISLAND BAIA DE TODOS
Nestled on Baia de Todos or All Saint’s Bay, Salvador is populated of fifty plus small and picturesque islands perfect for a quick beach tan. Board a schooner and tour the two most majestic beaches of Bahia – Frades and Itaparica. Look for a perfect perch along the shores of Fredes and take in the tranquil charm of the place while treating your taste buds with the tempting caipirinhas, Brazil’s national drink and the delicious seafood, by your side.
When in Itaparica, be a witness to the fountain of youth that flows from Fonte da Bica, in its old colonial town. The carbonated, mineral rich water has been sought to make you feel particularly youthful. And even if consuming this coppery-tasting water doesn’t do the trick, horseback riding, windsurfing and diving will surely do.
CANDOMBLE AND CACHOEIRA
Surrounded by tobacco and sugarcane plantations, Cachoeira is a historical and culture-rich inland town on Paraguacu River where Brazilian slaves once worked and their religion Candomblé bloomed. To maintain their Western African Yoruba rituals, slaves paired their gods and goddesses with Catholic saints, seeing similarities between their god of war – St. George and Ogun. Visit the women who still practice the Afro-Catholic religion. The sisterhood of Boa Morte sings its ancestral songs and pays homage to female spirits Oshun, the deity of fertility and river, and the Yansan, the deity of lightning, thunder and wind.
Walk through the town’s market and discover impressive woodcraft that hints at Cachoeira’s bygone days and tour the Dannemann Cigar Factory to see how local women hand-roll the city’s popular exports.
In the ‘land of happiness’, as the state of Bahia is famed, the sun shines every day, reinvigorating everyone who lives or visits it. The glorious jewel city embedded with gilded churches, lively festivals, cobblestone streets, deserted beaches, paradisiacal islands and powerful percussion resonating off old and new culture, is enthralling and a much sought after place that should be visited and explored once in your lifetime.