Bonfim, an unspoilt part of Salvador   Click for the chartlet

          

To give us some consolation Stéphanie and Nathalie invited us for a caipirinha. And because Stéphanie is aa great chef, the drinks were accompanied by various delicious snacks such as tacochips with guacemole and home-made mini-pizza’s. A sweet initiative and delightfully executed.
But we drank the most of our caipirinha’s in Salvador on the boulevard, where the salty water sprays over the terraces and we could see the flashing bouys and the ships. A great spot, also because we loved to gaze at the Brazilian boulevard-life i.e. seen in the perspective of the body culture: the joggers running by.
It was also here that we were introduced to the moqueca, a typical Bahian hotpot-dish of fish, shrimp and crab in a seasoned tomato/coconutmilkaus. Served with rice, farofa (manioc flour sautéed in butter, they sprinkle it over every dish) and a manioc mash which is considered as the ultimate treat. Prepared with lots of dendê, a from Africa originating palm oil which is hard to digest by some people. For example JW, so he could test his experience as Brazilian bathroom specialist again in Salvador. But we'll change the recipe a bit, to be able to serve the dish in Surinam as well.

If you want to eat, anything is possible in Brazil. For €3 you eat in every (kilo)restaurant rice, spaghetti, feijoada and chicken or meat, but our favourite place was the best churrascaría in town where they served the most delicious of meats. Freshly barbecued and directly from the spit cut on the table, extremely varied and as much as you want.
Shopping was a pleasure for P as Brazilian women are by far not the slender Miss Brazils everyone thinks them to be, on the contrary. Obesitas and diabetes are in Brazil health problems #1. Caused by rice and especially the large quantities of sugar they take in their coffe and in softdrinks and candies. Brazilians snack all day continously and the women present themselves without any shame in tight tops and bare bellies, even when they are size 18. Or bigger.

In Brazil the sifference between rich and poor is much bigger than in Surinam. The town parts where we went, are characterized by western wealth, good facilities and an excellent infrastructure. But we didn't dare go into the favela’s: the slums, stretching as far as the eye reaches.
After the mugging we really had had it with the city centre, so we took the bus to the northern town part: Ribeira/Bonfim, where the small fishing boats are. The heart of this district, which is built against a steep hill, is the Igreja do Bonfim. Beautiful, but really surprising because of its “casa dos milagres” (miracle room), the ceiling crammed with wax models of limbs of parishioners begging the enhor do Bonfim for cure. To many hands ands feet notes are glued explaining the illness that has to be cured. At first glance, all those arms and legs dangling in the air seemed a bit sinister, but the lacking of blood made us realize that this was not a chamber of horrors in a horror movie. And then the performance has something very moving.
Ribeira/Bonfim is absolutely not touristal. With its narrow streets it looks like little Venice and beautiful facades. Actually we felt at ease, at last. The locals take lunch by the beach with “pirão do aipim com carne do sol” and we considered this worth a try It turned out to be a manioc mash with dried meat prepared in the Bahian way in a nice sauce and with vegetables. Delicious and almost for free. In this neighbourhood we also found a non-touristical market, the Feira de São Joaquim. An incredible mess and a rummage sale, from vegetables to sculptures of Maria.

We did many outings. For example a boat trip in the Bahia dos Santos including a visit to two islands, one of them Itaperíca. Itaperíca has beautiful beaches but it is difficult to find a a place in the shadow where NO commercial activities take place. But once find you enjoy!


 

Salvador also has many magnificent parks, of which the biggest is the Parque de Pituaça. We hired bikes here and it felt great to get a bit of exercise again during the 15 km ride around the park. We were lucky as there was no sun. A bit of rain, yes, but what do you prefer when cycling?
An other park is the botanical garden, as in Belém actually a zoo, but with lots more species. So we saw not only monkeys and caymen, but jaguars, a lion, bears, zebra’s, camels and hippo's as well. But the funniest species were the Brazilians, who had a day off (1 may). Bag of popcorn in one hand, a soft drink in the other. Nice to look at from one of the 500 popcorn stalls.

How personal the approach of the ladies in La Villa Française is, appeared once more upon our leaving. We said goodbye as friends and Stéphanie prepared once more and especially for us her mousse maracuja as a breakfast. Very special.
Stéphanie had found us a cheap flight back (€150 pp), only twice the bus tariff and for €75 we were obviously not prepared to have a hard time: such a long bustrip including a tough night is not our favourite way to spend a holiday. Although the buses are comfortable, they stop frequently and people have to get in and out, so you don't get a lot of sleep. It is actually even worse than 4-hours watches on a boat! So planes and taxi’s became in Brazil more and more our favourite means of transportation.
By the way, taxidrivers are extremely correct and use a meter showing day and night rates. The taxi chat is of course: where do we come from.  Allemanha? No, Holanda. “Ah! João Kroif!” Before we go for a next visit we will study the subject of “futebol”.
Anyway. We again took a cab to the airport (to escape from possible robbers), had a stop-over in Brasília and ended up in São Luís in the north.

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