I’ve been contemplating the simple reasons why I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Salvador, Bahia, and I felt that I should compile my thoughts in the best way I know how, a list.
1. Huge/ Different trees
2. Good music, all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.
I’m sure a Bahian would not appreciate my saying this, but Bahians cook soul food. The history is similar. Slaves created familiar tastes from the food items that were provided to them. Often times, these were the so-called worst cuts of meat, but they made do.
Or at least, that’s how I feel about the food here. It’s very different, for example, I’ve never eaten as much beans and rice than how much I’ve eaten here. Every day.
4. Guaraná (Antarctica)
|Get it? I love Salvador?|
5. Água de coco
(Found so easily in fact, I wonder if there will ever be a coconut water shortage, because… where are all these vendors getting these coconuts? It must take months to grow a coconut, right?)
It’s slightly sweet, slightly healthy tasting, and irresistible overall. It’s easy to find yourself buying some, taking a sip, and then slurping when you realize it’s gone so fast. It’s that awesome. I’m going to miss Agua de coco because of it’s accessibility, and because of it’s tropicalness. I can’t get a coconut on the street to drink from in Maryland, and whenever I’m craving that slightly sweet taste, it won’t even be on the menu in a Maryland restaurant like it is here in Brazil. Let’s do something to change this, Maryland.
7. Funny Shaped Phone Booths
Whether it’s the Oi! phone booths that are scattered all over Brazil
(a sort of phone booth that you can have a pre-paid plan for… or something.), or the ones shaped like berimbaus or coconuts,
there’s no shortage of interesting phone booths to brighten your walk to wherever here in Bahia. Phone booths have a tendency to become a part of the identity of a nation (think the red booths of England), and from now on, whenever I think of Bahia, not only will I think of everything else on this list, but my mind will wander off to the berimbau shaped telephone booth in front of Mercado Modelo.
7.5. Mosaic Sidewalks
Most neighborhoods in Bahia have a very distinct pattern of sidewalk. For example, my neighborhood has this pattern,
whereas, one of my colleagues has this pattern,
It’s a good idea to orient yourself with the ground, and therein lies the appeal. These sidewalks automatically make your neighborhood unique.
Only trouble is that it’s cobblestone, and you can easily find yourself tripping over loose stones and making a fool out of yourself. But you gotta pay a price for beauty.
8. The people.
Bahians are interesting people. They can be very helpful with your Portuguese (and of course, they can sometimes be jerks about it). They’re supposedly, the chillest of the chill Brazilians, but they are demon drivers who get angry at busses for letting people off and holding up traffic. They’re very courteous, but they can also be very blunt. They’re a hard people to navigate, because as an American, you don’t realize how much you talk around things, how much you avoid saying. It becomes apparent when Brazilians are very direct to you, and you consider them invasive and kind of creepy. It’s something to get used to, but it’s something that sets them apart. They consider Americans a little cold and strange, and we are. We’re not nearly as openly affectionate as Brazilians, and that kind of enthusiasm I will miss. My host mother, who has been the most of welcoming to me, and for that, I’m very appreciative. I’m happy to have been here with these great people, and I for sure will be coming back.
Photo courtesy of my colleague.
|My professor Jefferson Bacelar and I.|
|Our housekeeper, “Dona” and I|
8.5. The Scenery
Like I said before, Bahians are known to be lazy. The stereotype of this state is, ‘They just go to the beach everyday and don’t really work, that’s why they’re always on strike, they drink coconut water and get fat, the weather never changes so they don’t know what cold is, life isn’t always a beach!” But the last one is true, Bahia is one of the few areas of Brazil that’s warm year round, and it’s a luxury to go to the beach every day almost. In Salvador, the people here are extremely lucky to have what they have around them. Beautiful beaches, beautiful hills, beautiful islands, beautiful weather. The other day I was looking at the sunset from the base floor of my apartment. Honest to God, I almost started crying, it was that beautiful. Here in Bahia, that happens every night, and you can just share in the spectacle with the cheese vendors on the beach.
(Did I tell you about cheese vendors? Ask me about cheese vendors.)
All I’m saying is, Bahia is beautiful, and it’s an intense beauty that’s fascinating and lucky to see. Just ask my friends who went hiking in Chapada Diamantina. You all should come check it out… and just backpack through Brazil as a result. I’m game to come with you.
9. Amendoim (Peanut)
In Brazil, there’s an oddly selective preference on peanut butter products. As a reformed peanut butter addict, I found myself a heaven. There’s Pacoquita,
A sorta peanut butter… patty? It’s small and delicious, and you can’t eat just one. You have to buy another, and another, and another ’til you’re out of coins.
There’s picole amendoim,
A tradition here in Bahia, possibly all over Brazil, is cheering for sunsets. I first noticed this my first time lounging on the beach. As the sun set, one person began clapping, and suddenly, the whole beach was abuzz with claps and hollering. I joined along too, but I had no idea what we were cheering for. The next time I was at the beach it happened again, and then I realized where everyone’s gaze was- at the sunset. From what I’ve gathered by asking around, is that Bahians clap for the sunset because it symbolizes the end of a day in which you’ve lived and ended it well. It’s a sign of things gone and things to come, and you welcome the change.
Now if that isn’t a beautiful sentiment, I don’t know what is!
I’m going to take this approach in my departure of Salvador da Bahia, Brasil, and welcome the change. I’m going to miss Salvador, and this crazy experience has made me into a different person. I’ve been undeniably changed by it, as every new experience molds a person, and I’m eager to embrace the life ahead of me. Instead of clapping for it, I think I wanna dance? Care to join me?
Adeus, Bahia. Até logo!