My bus to Brasilia was to leave on Saturday morning. Friday morning I woke up and went on a city tour with my friend. It was amazing and I really started to wonder why I was in such a rush to leave Bahia for the great unknown. I had a bus booked to Brasilia, but from there I would have to figure out my way to get to Amazonas which was all the way in the other side of this massive country, and then get a boat to Peru. I was beginning to really enjoy myself in Bahia, and woke up with the suspicion that I might change my ticket. We started off by going to the church called "Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks" that was the first church that African slaves were able to go to. They were not allowed to worship in any of the churches, and they really wanted to have a place of worship. It took more than 100 years for them to build it, and they worked mostly at night because they had to be on the plantations all day. Seeing it filled me with a sense of awe. I cannot imagine how difficult their lives must have been, and it was just admirable that they would put in so much work to have a place where they could congregate, encourage each other, sing/dance to lift their spirits. The strength of the human spirit through adversity is really uplifting. To think that all day they would spend slaving away, toiling on the land for no pay, suffering cruel punishments, and that by night they would go and build their own church - brick by brick. To know that given it took over 100 years to build, some of those who worked so hard never actually got to worship in it. It's sad, but also very inspiring. Up to this day, there are still church services held here and they incorporate the beating of drums and a few other things that are uniquely African.
We then walked along the full length of Pelourinho which is the historic centre of Salvador. It's history is a sad one. The word pelourinho means "pillory" - a wooden device that was used to punish people by locking in one's hands, legs and head. Pelourinho was where public whippings would be conducted. The architecture of the place is such that it is quite hilly with a deep valley. Slaves would be forced to watch the public whippings to discourage them from any revolt or any "bad" behaviour - where "bad" behaviour included anything as small as completing a task slowly, looking badly at the master etc. It is said that the valley on Pelourinho was always filled with streams of blood from the public whippings. One can only imagine how much pain and suffering slaves went through in this square. Historically, Salvador is extremely important when talking about slave history. About 40% of all slaves who were taken from Africa entered the Americas through the port of Salvador. Salvador was also the first colonial capital of Brazil and its economy was driven by the sugar trade. Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery - only abolishing it in 1888. Common literature states that Princess Isabella of Portugal was the one who finally emancipated slaves, but discussions in Bahia credit emancipation to Carlos do Patrocinio's influence on the Princess. He was a famous black writer, pharmacist, activist, orator, journalist etc who is said to either have been the princess's good friend or lover.
After this we walked further down to the tonnes of galleries in the old city. My favourite works there were 1. The dancing Bahianas and washerwomen paintings by my friend, 2. A painting of Jesus and the 12 disciples as rastafarians and 3. Various works of cubism by a 72 year old painter we called "Superboy". "Superboy" sometimes stayed in our hostel and he was simply amazing. He told me that when the spirit touches him, he can stay awake for days on end and do 2-3 paintings. Even at his advanced age, he is still a very keen painter, and has trained quite a few other painters on technique.
After this, we went downtown to eat some feijoada. It was delicious. It's a heavy meal that has rice, stewed beef and sausages, beans and a side of chilli. After this meal, all you want to do is sleep on the floor - food coma. I finally gave in to the temptation to change my ticket. I tried calling them a few times, but to no avail. Up to the point I left Brazil, I only learnt how to call out on the last day- and that's because I just called numbers with the full code included ..+55....It is a process. Apparently you have to include a number for your network to call out, and also include a number for the region you are calling out of/calling into. So when someone gives you their number, you have to realize that you will need to include 5 digits before it depending on who your service provider is, where you are and where the other person is.....Greek, I tell you! No idea why anyone would make it so difficult. My friend and I had a few stops before going to the bus station to change my ticket. We went to the local market where I bought a herbal remedy for my cough. No idea what was in this remedy, but it was more of a problem than a cure. It gave me painful stomach contractions later in the day. I decided I would rather take my chances with the cough than with the scary contractions. We then stopped in a different part of town and had a few drinks of "Mulher Barbada (The Bearded Woman.") It was sweet, but that was a scary bottle - why does the woman have a beard? We then went back to Pelourinho and had a few drinks with friends at which point I started getting nervous I would be too late to change my ticket. Brazil time is even crazier than African timing. I found myself to generally be in no sort of hurry when in Bahia. I would plan to be somewhere in an hour, then I would meet someone on the street and chat for 20 minutes then have a beer with them. I just could not hurry up, and neither could anybody else. We finally managed to get to the bus station and change my ticket. We then came back and passed through a really cool restaurant near Pelourinho whose name I unfortunately forgot. It was a very busy day.