Via Tina Ma:
Today is the first day for us to travel around and learn about the culture in Salvador. In the morning, we headed straight to the plaza where first Portuguese settlement took place. The plaza is surrounded by constructions which were built when the first Portuguese colonials arrive around 1548, including the city hall, cathedrals, fortifications and even prisons.
From the plaza, we were able to see the Bay of all Saints, where merchants used to come to Salvador and drop down different types of goods. Next to the bay, we could see a shopping mall which used to be a market area. Products and slaves were exchanged in the area so it was considered as one of the most important commerce areas in Brazil.
Around the plaza, a statue of a traditional Baiana woman stood out to us next to the Candomblé Museum. The statue is wearing a traditional costume to commemorate the women who sold acaraje (a type of African food) to fight for their own freedom.
Walking along the streets, we also visited the workshop of a French researcher and photographer, Pierre Verger. Verger was born in a wealthy family but chose to travel around the world and capture the lives of people in different countries. Instead of living in luxury hotels, he chose to live in neighbourhoods to record every detail of different cultures. Eventually, he was attracted by the beauty of Salvador and decided to settle in the charming city.
Near noon, we visited the African Brazilian Museum, which used to be the oldest medical school in Bahia. The museum collects paintings, that portrayed the different rituals and traditions of the indigenous people, as well as some of their traditional instruments and weapons. The other part of the museum displays statues of the Orishas/Orixas worshiped by the indigenous population. They are associated with different animals by the belief of animism and are placed in different positions to demonstrate different characteristics. The museum greatly deepened our understanding in indigenous culture and helped us to better understand the importance of Orishas in indigenous society.
Via Emily Majewski:
After lunch, we started the afternoon with a few minutes shopping around Salvador then all ate at the Church and Convent of Saint Francis. At the church, Javier gave us a lesson on the church and religion and Brazil, emphasizing Catholicism. Then we all walked around and gazed at the gorgeous church.
After this we visited the Casa do Benin.
Next, we all walked through the streets of Salvador to learn about Olodum and even see the exact spot where Michael Jackson’s music video “They Don’t Care About Us” was shot.
We then visited the Steve Biko Institute, a long-time partner of NMH. We learned all about their work helping to improve access to education for young people of African descent in Brazil.
Dinner was at a gorgeous little restaurant. We ate chicken, hamburger, and pasta with fresh juices and a coconut dessert.
Directly after dinner we watched the incredible Balé Foclorico da Bahia, a dance presentation of native Brazilian African dance. The dance performance left us all going to bed in awe.