March 31, 2014 – Salvador, Brazil
This morning I got up enough energy and early enough to walk a nautical mile (6,070 feet). I have been needing to exercise, and this was the morning to get started. After my walk, Patsy and I went to breakfast on the Terrace. Guto and Elly joined us as we finished up. So, we sat and visited with them until they had finished. We had the morning free as we did not dock in Salvador until 2 p.m. So, the rest of the morning was spent being lazy. We found a lounger in the covered part of the top deck and spent the time reading and napping. At lunchtime we had food from Waves which is the short order restaurant on the top deck. We ate it while sitting on our lounger. While I was waiting for my food, I saw a couple of people walk by that I thought I knew. When I brought my food back to the lounger, I told Patsy that I thought I’d seen a couple who were on our Cape Town to Singapore trip aboard the Nautica in 2010/2011. After I finished eating, I went to get my camera so I could take pictures as we entered port. On my way, I swung through the Terrace Café and found Dave and Joyce Carlson from San Diego who had, indeed, been on the Nautica. It was great to see them. I didn’t have much time to visit as I needed to get my camera and get back up topside. I’m sure that we’ll see them again.
As we sailed into port, the Regatta’s lecturer on Brazil talked us into port. He explained what we were seeing along the shore and gave a little history of the city. He pointed out the elevator which takes people from the Cidade Baixa (Lower City) to the Cidade Alta (Upper City). The Upper City is 100 meters higher than the Lower City. We could also see the roads which connect the two. Most locals who live in the Lower City but work in the Upper City use the elevator for their commute. We also saw the round fort which was built to protect the Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay). There are many forts along the peninsula upon which Salvador is built, but this is the only round fort.
Anna, who was our local guide, met us at the dock, and we were off for our tour. First we visited the light house which is where Thome de Souza from Portugal 1st landed in the country which became Brazil. On our way there, we passed a lovely park which had a very ornate iron fence around it. There were birds, flowers and all sorts of figures in the fence.
On our way to the Pelourinho (Old City), we passed a lake which had about a dozen statues in it. They were all African women is different dress. These are African goddesses. Today, 80% of the population of Salvador is African. Much of the culture in Salvador today has an African background. The city was the entrance point for African slaves into Brazil. They were brought to work in the sugar cane fields. Over 12,000,000 slaves were brought into the country. The work in the sugar cane fields was dangerous, and they died at an alarming rate so they had to be resupplied quickly.
We also passed the soccer stadium which has just been completed for the 2014 World Cup. The preliminary rounds will be played in cities throughout the country with the finals being in Rio. Salvador has drawn some of the best teams including Sprain which is, I guess, the best team of all – unless you are from Brazil!
The Pelourinho is the site of many historical buildings, colonial architecture, museums, restaurants, bars, hostels, artist’s shops and music/dance/capoeira academies. The streets are cobble stone so one has to be very careful of where one steps. In front of many of the shops, African women were dressed in colonial slave garb. They were there to attract/entice people to go into the shops to buy things. They were perfectly willing to have their picture taken, and I got some great pictures of them. We also saw two young men doing a dance. They were accompanied by 2 other young men on traditional instruments. They were also willing to be photographed without paying because they were there to entice people into the shops.
We visited the Church and Cloister of St. Francis. The porch which connects the Convent and Church was built between 1749 and 1755. The tiles which represent scenes from the contemplative life of the Franciscan Hermits of former times were put in place in 1782. The cloister was built between 1729 and 1794. The tiles came from Portugal between 1743 and 1746. The artist is unknown, but the donor is supposed to be Dom Joao V. The 37 tiled mosaics on the ground floor of the cloister are all inspired by the paintings of the Flemish artist Oto Van Veen. They are from a book, Moral Theatre of Human Life. The convent has a copy of the original text. The Latin epigraphs on each painting are inspired by Horace. The upper cloister tiles represent scenes of fishing, hunting, country life, symbols of the 5 senses, the months and the continents. About 20 brothers still live in the cloister so we did not see the upper floor tiles. The Chapter room is actually the visitor’s room and confessional of the cloister. The High Altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Health and on the front panel are embedded relics of saints.
One of the most interesting things about the church is the choir, sacristy and railings are all made of Jacaranda wood. They are attributed to Frei Luis, the “wood carver”. They were completed in the 1st part of the 18th century.
The Sacristy ceiling is divided into 48 paintings with the emblem of the Franciscan Order in the center. Between 2 large chests of drawers there is a baroque altar with the figure of the crucified Christ in ivory. The chest of drawers and 2 cupboards with small drawers are the work of Frei Luis de Jesus. The stone wash-basin with St. Anthony’s Statue is from 1710. The vestibule between the sacristy and the church has a display of art on tiles that depict Bible scenes. On the ceiling is a perspective painting of the Risen Christ. The stairs that lead to the upper cloister have a handrail of stone that has masquerades sculptured on the upper part.
The Church of St. Francis is one of the best models of the 1st age of the baroque style, or as it is usually called “The colonial style”. The carvings are completely covered with gold leaf and give the impression of a Golden Church. The decoration gives the impression of profuse exuberance of arabesque forms whose style and unity is only interrupted by the straight line of the ceiling. The tiled panels that cover the back wall represent scenes from the life of St. Francis. The 2 holy water fonts were donated by Dom Joao V.
The wooden shutters that close the side chapels are the work of Frei Luis de Jesus. On the right side are the chapels dedicated to Saints Benedito, Pedro le Alcantara (a masterpiece of the sculptor Manoel Inacio da Costa who was executed in 1790) and Joseph. Next is the Magnificent Altar of St. Luiz of Tolosa (1738-1740). The image of St. Anthony is by the same artist from Bahia.
The Great Chapel has a floor of polished stone in various colors which looks like a carpet (Alcatifa) that came from Portugal in 1738. The tiles that depict scenes of the life of St. Francis were made in Lisbon by Bartolomeu Antunes in 1737. The main altar has undergone some changes. The famous painting by Murilo that represents the Crucified Christ embracing St. Francis (inspired the artist Pedro Ferreira from Bahia) has occupied the throne on the High Altar since 1930.
The Sanctuary Lamp that hangs from the ceiling is made of silver and dates from 1758. It was donated to the church. Paintings in ornate frames decorate the ceiling of the church and are by a gifted artist according to the information of the time. The great arch of the transept has the Coat of Arms of the Franciscan Order which represents the crossed arms of Christ and St. Francis. There are 3 side chapels dedicated to Saint Ann, Saint Luzia and Saint Efigenia.
The important dates in the history of Saint Francis are:
1587 – The 1st Franciscans arrived in Brazil and took up residence.
1591 – Construction of a small convent began.
1686 – The foundation stone for a new convent was laid.
1713 – The foundation stone for the new church was laid.
1713 – The new church was inaugurated.
1723 – Construction was completed.
1750 – Decoration and painting of the interior was completed.
From St. Francis we walked through the Pelourinho. The shops were interesting, and there was every kind of handicraft and art on sale as well as tourist junk. We stopped in one shop to view the slave jewelry. Each house slave was given a silver chain and each year of service earned another silver charm – for want of a better word. Slaves could use the silver to buy their freedom or the freedom of others.
Salvador was founded in 1549 and served as the capital during the heyday of the slave trade. The legacy of the African population is the resulting culture which outshines the rest of Brazil in many ways. In music, many of the greatest names of the mid-20th century to the present hail from Salvador such as Dorival Caymmi, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. The late Jorge Amado is from the area. It is located on a peninsula on the northeast coast of Brazil which shields the large Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) from the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 3d largest city in Brazil and sprawls over dozens of kilometers inland from the coast. It has a tropical climate including rainforests and lush vegetation. The interior of Salvador where the “new city” has developed is full of residential neighborhoods, shopping megaplexes and knotted highways. Brazil is a country of social inequality, but in few places is that as evident as in Salvador. The social segregation is also evident with large number of upper middle class and upper class citizens living in gated communities which contrast with the huge slum-like favela neighborhoods located on elevated areas.
One of the principle attractions is Carnival. Salvador’s giant Carnival is the biggest in the world according to the Guinness Records. It lasts for one week and is extremely popular with Brazilians and tourists alike. It happens in February and consists of parades, live entertainment, music, dancers and vendors. The main parades follow 3 circuits: one in the historic center Pelourinho with mainly traditional groups in costumes; one on Campo Grande, where most bands play samba; and in recent years the most popular one in Barra/Ondina where modern Brazilian Axe music mixes with percussion and all kinds of rhythm and styles. The bands parade between “Camarote” boxes on one side and the beach on the other. You can participate by watching from the camarote boxes or purchase an “abada” shirt to join a group that accompanies one of the bands throughout the parade.
After a quick walk through of the Mercado, we returned to the ship just as it got dark at 6:30. We had had a wonderful 4 hour tour of the city. Needless to say walking for 3 hours or so on cobblestones was very trying. We had dinner in the Terrace and headed to our cabins to collapse. I took a quick shower and sat on the veranda to watch us leave port. For some reason which has never been revealed, we were almost an hour late in leaving port. It was a beautiful sailing and shortly afterwards, I was in bed sound asleep.
At supper, Guto pulled me aside to ask if I had any plans for Patsy’s birthday which is April 3d. All of you know that birthdays were no big deal in my family so I seldom remember anyone’s birthday including my own. I had forgotten that Patsy’s birthday was coming up. Guto has arranged for a cake for her and also bought her some small naïve paintings which she had admired. She is going to be surprised, I’m sure.