We’ve been traveling for a week now. We flew to Recife first in the state of Pernambuco. We did a mini tour of the city including the craziest museum in the middle of brazil: one full of European artifacts built like a castle. It was a collection of knives mostly, that just showed the reach of European imperialism simply from the materials used to make the knives: ivory, jade, Egyptian gold, silver, etc… We went to an outdoor market, then to a neighboring city that had the most tapioca vendors I’ve ever seen in one place. We had some great tapioca for dinner—I had tapioca filled with a GENEROUS portion of shrimp. We had a lot of lectures throughout the week but on Tuesday we went and visited the indigenous community of Xukuru. It was one of the better experiences on this trip. We danced with a bunch of school kids-we learned to do the samba de coco. We rode in the back of a truck to go to this huge rock (that’s a sacred spot) that overlooks the entire valley and all the mountains. We went with Dona Zanilda (not sure how to spell her name) to another sacred spot/grave that we had to hike up to. She was the wife of the leader of the community, but he was assassinated, and her son is currently the cacique (leader). She was an amazing woman who talked about the need to continue the struggle for rights. She gave us each a necklace at the end, and she picked mine out specifically for me.
When we got back to Recife we went out one night and listened to this great samba group who was playing in the street in front of a bar while we drank caipirinhas. We went to the beach one morning and it was the best time at the beach I’ve had so far. We laid in the sun, jumped in the water, got caldinha (a seafood or bean stew) from a walk around vendor and then got some grilled shrimp (eaten with the skin of course). We went to an NGO our last afternoon and had an afro-brasilian dance class and drumming lesson, and then ate some great tapioca pudding.
Now we’re in Cachoeira, Bahia. It’s beautiful, full of history, and has great food! Our first night we tried Maniçoba, which is the same thing as cassava. Not my favorite thing but great when mixed with rice and pimenta. We went to a samba club our first night as well. Today, we spent the morning touring the city on foot—learning the history of the city and the wealth of culture, and this afternoon we visited the oldest sisterhood in Candomble: Boa Morte, visited another candomble house, and then a pretty awesome art museum. There was another outdoor fair today where I went shopping and we also saw a cigar factory and watched the tedious and precise process of making those expensive ass things.
I’ve been eating great and will probably leave Bahia 10 pounds heavier given all the great food to eat. Tomorrow we go to Santo Amaro to see the Casa de Samba and hopefully participate in a samba de roda, and then we’re off to Salvador for the rest of the week, and for me, the rest of the month!! Until then, we’re going to figure out how to celebrate halloween in brazil.