On our first day in Salvador, Patti had a class field trip to a favela - a squatter settlement in the center of town. Favelas are an amazing part of Brazilian life resulting from the migration of workers from rural to urban areas in hopes of a better life. This particular settlement is one of the oldest in and around Salvador (80 years old). After a tour through the streets of the settlement (pictured), we congregated in the community center/school for a talk with resident organizers and to interact with the children. After an afternoon of fun, Dean left with a new understanding (and amazement) of development and the human condition in Brazil -- and a new friend.
It was a wonderful reunion to witness. After we visited the first home and general store, the word got out that Patti was back in town. From home to home the residents welcomed us with open arms. They were thrilled to see Patti again, and many shared old photos from when she was living there. Unfortunately, it was a quick visit and Patti said it was hard to take it all in -- both the old memories and all the changes (paved road, pumped water in town, etc.).
In the evening, Patti had her second field trip (note how many field trips Dean has had so far) to the beautiful grounds of a former sugar cane manor house on the bay. We arrived just in time to capture these great evening light shots. After a buffet dinner of typical Bahian food, the 100+ S@S students and faculty were treated to a touristy, but impressive, display of capoeira, samba, and candomble' dancing. The final number turned into a student mosh pit when the dancers invited S@S students up on stage.
Later that night, we ventured up to the first night of Carnival in the old city - The Pelorinho. Although we didn't get any pictures (because we had been warned that North American tourists are called "filet mignon" by Brazilian thieves) we did get some interesting folk art and managed to dance in quite a few doorways as the marching bands traveled the streets. It was fun to see the S@S students recognize us as they danced by on the cobblestone streets.
Ilheus and Lands South
On Day 3 we headed out of Salvador for the south of Bahia. Our new friends, Louise and Mark (Knoxville, TN singer/songwriter and S@S photographer, respectively), joined us for this two-night adventure. After a bit of clever jeito brasileiro (negotiations), Patti convinced the car rental place that our drivers licenses are included in our passports (since none of us remembered to pack our licenses) and we headed south to our beach town and eco-park.
We spent that afternoon with Seu Bigode (Mr. Mustache) in the mangroves near the town of Canavieiras. With just the four of us in his little motor boat, we saw crabs, herons and a fabulous colonial village (Belmonte); sucked on crescent shaped local fruit; took pictures of fishermen tarring their boats; and looked for river dolphins. It was an incredible afternoon that ended at sunset as we pulled up to the historic dock in Canavieiras. The day ended with an evening of stargazing from the beach (did you know you can see Saturn's moons with binoculars?!?).
The next morning we headed out early for our eco-park hike just outside the town of Una. The park is part of the little remaining Atlantic rainforest and is home to toucans, jaguars, sloths and tamarinds. We hiked for several hours with a guide who showed us everything from how to tap a rubber tree to the calls of the different primate species. We were lucky enough to see and hear the tamarinds along the trail -- something we later learned was quite unusual. Along with the tamarinds, the feature of this eco-park that drew us to this area was the hanging walkway across the top of the forest canopy. We only wish we had been able to spend more time suspended above the trees.
After our picture-postcard afternoon lunch, we had a series of adventures with local people in Canavieiras. Mark got a haircut, Louise got food poisoning, we all laughed at the rinky-dink local version of Carnival, and even managed to buy some homemade chocolate on our way out of town. After one last Brazilian moqueca (crab stew), we just barely made it back to the ship before setting sail for AFRICA!
Between Cuba and Brazil we crossed the equator, an event celebrated in strange ways by pollywogs and shellbacks. February 3, otherwise known as Neptune Day, proved to be an anthropologist's dream -- full of weird rituals and revelry. Those of us who were pollywogs were subjected to a dowsing of gross goo (it involved fish guts and old oatmeal) before being hosed off in the pool. After kissing the fish, we then passed in front of King Neptune and his court before being officially declared shellbacks. Due to her overly peppy attitude, Patti had to do this part twice -- not a happy camper!!
The second major event involved the court barber (the Captain) shaving the heads of more than 100 new shellbacks, including Dean. He was one of only a handful of faculty to partake in this ritual. This explains the handkerchief you see in many of our Brazil photos. Patti still can't believe he did it.