In Brazilian cities it’s possible to find real “pearls” of street art. And, although wandering though yards and narrow streets can be dangerous, some pieces of art we’ve found are really worth being discovered. Especially if you are accompanied by a local friend : ) These’re pieces of the capital of the state Bahia, Salvador.
Chapada Diamantina is like “a kingdom behind thirty-nine lands” in Russian fairy tales. You need to cross mountain ranges, walk turbulent rivers, overcome tiredness of rocky ascends and leave behind many kilometers of plateau, burnt by ruthless sun.
The reward for that will be an oasis deep into shadowy valley that lays among centuries old giants, unreachable and severe like ancient wise men. Life streams there in tranquility and no hurry, filled with simple and natural joys: singing of birds, gentle chatter of creeks and whispering of wind in high tree tops of wise forest.
The dusty road brings us from a tiny town Guine (that is on the south-west border of Chapada) to the base of a mountain range. There we leave the car and start ascent.
It’s morning, and the first climb is easy. Soon we observe a huge plateau in front of us. Behind this vast space – the valley of incredible beauty. But we can only guess about it now, keeping in sight whimsical rocks far away.
Here we go for the next 1.5 hours – across shallow rivers, among low bushes and sea of grass, trying to keep our feet away from mud pools that have appeared after the rain. The water in streams doesn’t reach higher than our ancles, and it pleasantly chills our hot feet.
Finally, we reach the edge. Last steps towards the abyss – and Vale do Pati lays right under our tired feet. From the top like on a map we can see all trails that cross the valley. On the left of it there’s a church (Igrejinha) with camping nearby.
Before we get there we need to go down. Straight from a place we stand there’s a path down the grand rock. Or better say – a steep. It’s not hiking anymore, but rock climbing. We descend from stone to stone, trying to keep safe our knees. And entertain ourselves with idea that on way back we need to climb this mountain up.
The next hour we walk by a dusty road (the next day, when we’ll go back this dust will turn into thick layer of mud) into the depth of the forest that is crossed by a river. There’s plenty of waterfalls around, and, probably, this stream gives birth to some of them.
Finally, there’s a white house among trees – Casa de Dona Le. In a backyard a guy is cutting wood. A cock hisses on us, staying in fronts of his hens. Kittens stare at strangers from behind of a huge pot.
These animals are slow but resistant and strong and used by locals to bring supplies from Guine. They choose long way, around the range. It takes them 3 hours to pass the route that would take a pedestrian 2 days.
There’s many people in hospitable house of Dona Rachel (almost all locals recieve guests): mostly Brazilians who have escaped frenzy of Carnaval but also Spanish travelers. Photos on walls are from gratefull guests. Some of them return here to the magnificent valley again and again. Hope, I will too – one day.
Cloudy. It’s been raining at night cats and dogs. We were glad that the previous evening had covered the tent. Dream was awesome : )
We’re in Chapada Diamantina, national park that occupies 1500 square meters of the state Bahia.
“Chapada means a region of steep cliffs, usually at the edge of a plateau. Diamantina refers to the diamonds found there in the mid-19th century”, says Wikipedia.
Chapada is a place for reunion with nature, to restore (or find) peace in soul and forget about problems of big city. And my next posts will be devoted to this amazing park.
22 meters – is it much or not? Depends on what we’re talking about, right?
If we speak about Poco do Diabolo (Lagoon of Devil) and 22-meters- high, I guess, that will be too much. Don’t worry I didn’t jump from it.
But Crisa did : ) 20 years ago.
This time we turned on common sense and jumped from a rock much smaller.
The lagoon is created by river Mucuguzinho. It runs from mountainous part and that’s why has vivid temper. Summer sun dries it a bit, and waters loose its abundance. So we were able to walk on its stones.
To get to the lagoon, we passed a couple of hundred meters of the river. This is a kingdom of lizards. They are like gems, sparkle on the sun with their colourful skin: azul blue, emerald green, desert brown (that reminded me about gekkons, who lived on my terrace in Namibia).
The “softness” of local nature, despite daily rain, gave us chance to climb the waterfall that falls to Poco do Diabolo. Now the stream occupies only a half of a riverbed. The waterfall hit me but its force wasn’t enough to push me down.
Brazilian coast, without doubts, is one of the most beautiful coasts in the world.
Last weekend we went to Mangue Seco – tiny beach village with only 300 inhabitants. Idyllic piece of Earth, covered with white sandy dunes, is separated from “other world” by two rivers. One of them – Rio Real (Real river) – creates the natural border of two Brazilian states – Sergipe and Bahia.
Despite its distant location and small size, Mangue Seco is well-known all over Brazil. Here the soap-opera – adaptation of the novel “Tieta do Agreste”, by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, was shot in 1996.
We spent four hours, driving from Salvador to the border of Sergipe. But this long way is definitely not a waste of time. From Salvador to the small town of Praia do Forte (I wrote about it here) runs Estrada do Coco (BA-099), or Cockonut Road. It deserves its name – there’re so many palms, surrounding the road that we hardly could see the coast of Atlantic ocean.
After Praia do Forte the famous road Linha Verde (Green line) starts. It goes north through the state of Bahia till the border with Sergipe. And was improved much for the last 10 years, my friend told me.
We passed several “views” – “miradors”, which Linha Verde is famous for. On one of them we found sacrifices of candomble followers.
Candomble is a religion, mixed with black magic. It’s widely-spread and passionately practiced all over Bahia. These beliefs and rituals were brought by African priests, who were transported to Brazil as slaves in 19th century. I will definitely write about it later in this blog.
One of most typical features of candomble is sacrification. Usually every ritual is followed by assasination of an animal: hen, cat …
Despite all the interest to candomble, this aspect nor me, neither my Brazilian friends approve.
As you already know, I prefer to use animals as photo models : ) And this I successfully had done in this trip too.
To get to Mangue Seco we needed to pass the river. In a small village was almost noone. A man on a peer, two boys playing in the water and a fisherman.
After 20-minutes-long ride we were finally on desirable shore. We took our a bit wet stuff out and started out lively walk to the ocean. Some tourists prefer to hire a boogy – light car that is used to drive on dunes. But we decided that 10 minutes ride is not worth 25 reals.
It was Saturday, and the beach of Mangue Seco was lively. People rolled in ocean waves, fierce and wonderful as any ocean wave is. Others relaxed in hammocks – such a lovely invention of humankind.
– There’s no camping anymore, – told us a woman, who lives in a house near the beach. – But you can camp right here, on the sand. This is what three couples did who stayed on New Year.
And this is what we did : ) Another news – and this time good ones – were that till 18-00 the beach would be only for us. Everyone leaves the coast of Mangue Seco till evening. Except us.
I needn’t say that the sunset was gorgeous that day! By the way, don’t believe pictures in souvenir shops on main (and the only) square of village Mangue Seco. They show sunset about waters of the ocean – that never happens, ‘coz West is the other side, behind the shore))
One of the main entertainments of Mangue Seco – boogy drive through picturesque white dunes. Staying on a beach, we heard excited cries of passengers, when boogy climbed up the dune or rushed down it.
We didn’t even try to resist temptation – and hired a boogy by ourselves.
Bad news are that sand slowly invades the neighbor territory – approximately 5 cm each year. So, who knows, maybe, in several dozens of years little village of Mangue Seco won’t exist…
We decided to start preparations for “total desertification” now, and learned sandboarding. Sincerely – after snowboarding and surfing it’s slow and boring.
At the end of the second day of our stay rainy clouds started to gather on the sky. Wind got stronger, and sand rose around our tent. We couldn’t open the hatch not having in minutes a pile of sand inside.
Ocean roared and came close to wooden tents on the shore. It was getting darker and darker, clouds veiled the sun that was still high.
And we decided to leave. I still shake out of all my things sand of Mangue Seco.
Now I feel that I do not travel but live. And this is the best way to discover the country, to understand its folk.
I continue studying Portuguese – just six five months ago I coudn’t imagine that I will study this language.
Language opens me gates to Brazilian cuture. It’s deep and so rich that life wouldn’t be enough to discover. Traditions and believes vary from state to state.
Today I’ll write you some curious facts about Baianos – people who live in state of Bahia : )
- Whom will I write about first? Of course, men! Brasileiros are the only people I met who admit that they are “big children”. They say it by themselves! And no shame : ) Crisa and his friends even call each other “crianças” – “children”.
- At the same time Brazilian men call each other “pai” – “father”. Funny to see how one young man say to the other youngster: “Ate amanhã, pai” – “Will see you tomorrow, pai”
- Brazilian men say to each other “Abraço” – “Hug””. Imagine that in Russia? Reputation of “veado” – gay is garanteed.
- Baianas have many specific impressions. This language is very vivid and typical for this state. Here’s a small part:
E ae beleza? – hey what’s up?
Não vá que é barril – Dont go , it s dangerous
Baratino – Lie
Na paleta – by walking
êa – Hi
Pega aquela parada para mim – Give that thing to me (“Parada” is a word to name anything)
Lá ele! – Not me, get out of here!
Ó! – Look over there!
My friend Olga, Ukranian – Brazilian, has a dictionary of “expressão da Bahia”, but, as long as she has more than 2.000 books at home, we haven’t found it yet : ) Wait for the next post, amigos!
Near Farol da Barra a young woman came to me. In her arms – necklesses for sale.
– I have a present for you, – she said to me. And gave me a bright strip of cloth. “Lembranca do senhor do Bonfim da Bahia”, said words on it. …Remind the Lord of Bonfim of Bahia.
The girl turned the ribbon around my wrist.
– I will make three knots. And you will make three wishes, – she told to me.
But my thoughts were far away, and my “wish list” was empty that day. She, seeing me confused, tried to help: “Saude? Amor? Felicidade?” She spoke Portuguese to me, and I hardly understood her.
I just nodded. My mind was empty.
In two days a guy stops me on the same pass, leading to the entrance of Farol da Barra.
– I have a present for you, – he says. And stretches his arm with yellow ribbon in it.
– Yellow. Color of sun. Make three wishes…
He talks to me in Portuguese, and I talk back to him. He doesn’t give me advice. This time I know what I want.
I want to be happy.
I want to warm people with my heart and smile and feel this warmth back.
And I want to know all corners of my home – planet Earth.
P.S. Those colorful ribbons people bring from Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Ribeiro, in the west of Salvador. Wind from the bay waves thousands of bright strips, tied on the fence around the church. Each color means something: blue – health, saude; green – happiness, felicidade…
Take a ribbon, make three knots and keep in mind three wishes. And believe in kind spirits of Salvador.
P.P.S. I apologize for publishing a photo that is not mine. Unfortunately, at this moment I don’t have a photocamera. But I do my best to solve this problem : )
Eu tinha uma galinha,
Que se chamava Mary Lou
Um dia fiquei com fome
E papei a Mary Lou
Mary Lou, Mary Lou,
Tinha cara de babaca.
Mary Lou, Mary Lou,
Botava ovo pela cloaka.
This silly song we sing on the lighthouse, Farol da Barra. I live close to it and go there to watch the sunset.
And I’m not the only one, many people gather there every evening. Brazilians admire natural beauty. And watching a sunset over Atlantics turnes to be a part of an everyday schedule.
Salvador is a city of churches. Numbers I was told vary from 360 to 500. I don’t know which information is more precise. Still – there’re many of them. Every day of the year you can visit a new one : )Salvador is a city with population of 2,5 million people. It lays on shores of Bahia de todos os Santos – Bay of all Saints. There’re several islands inside the bay, including big and populated Itaparica.
The sandy coastline is occupied by tourists that arrived by charter boats. They get drunk rapidly and play loud music.The beach is full of people – they hide in a shadow of umbrelas – the sun doesn’t pity anyone. Average temperatures in Bahia in summer is somewhere around 30 degrees. Paradise after nasty and cold Saint-Petersburg : )
Salvador has a soul and I guess it can become one of the cities I would love to come back. It’s up to my wind ))
P.S. The silly song is a story of a person who had a chicken named Mary Lou. Once he got hungry and ate his chicken. Such a sad end : )