Published: September 4th 2011September 19th 1989
Salvador do Bahia
photo taken from Convento do Carmo website
This is a continuation of my putting our old travel journals onto this blog site. See previous ones: (1) Guatemala 1988, which is the first in this series; (2) Costa Rica 1989 (w/Christmas in Cozumel, Mexico and last days in Guatemala); (3) Cuba & Mexico 1989; (4) Argentina (w/Uruguay, a bit of Brazil & Paraguay) 1989; (5) Chile & Bolivia (including Mendoza, Argentina & Tacna, Peru); (6) Peru, Ecuador & Galapagos Islands 1989; (7) Ecuador Part II & Bogotá, Colombia; (8) Brazil Part I (w/Manaus, Belém, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife & Maceió, (9) and this will be the ninth. YOU CAN CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT, THEN GO BACK TO THE JOURNAL OR GO THROUGH THE PHOTOS (CLICK ON THE NUMBERS AT THE TOP) IN THAT ENLARGED FORMAT. TO RETURN TO THE JOURNAL, JUST CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON OR ON
Again, I am relying on the internet, photos I happened to have scanned and ones people have sent to me as I do not have access to my original photos. Thank you all who sent me photos - much appreciated! (This blog entry was prepared in Germany where we were living - July 2009 - Oct. 2010).
THE NAME OF THE BLOG ON THE RIGHT OR BOTTOM OF PHOTO - DEPENDS ON YOUR COMPUTER.
Convento do Carmo
This was our hotel in Salvador do Bahia which cost us approx. 50$ a night. Today it will cost you $250 for what we had in 1989 - which was the simplest room; you can spend almost $1,000 for a suite today
NEAR THE TOP ON THE LEFT ABOVE OUR PHOTO, CLICK ON 'Kathy & Bernie Dougherty' AND YOU'LL GET A PAGE LISTING (BACKWARDS CHRONOLOGICALLY) OUR BLOGS, WHICH YOU CAN SCROLL THROUGH AND CHOOSE ONES YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN. IF YOU CLICK ON 'Previous Entry' TOP LEFT OR 'Next Entry' TOP RIGHT, YOU'LL GET ONLY ONE ENTRY. WHEN OFF THIS SITE, YOU CAN GO TO: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Kathy---Bernie/ WHICH WILL TAKE YOU TO THE PAGE LISTING ALL OF OUR BLOGS. Originally written in Rio de Janeiro, September 19, 1989; retyped in Berlin, Germany 2010.
[We are back in Rio now. Back you say? You'll get everything in chronological order - I'll not give anything away now.
Please bear with me, this typewriter is the oldest, clunkiest yet (1940s Remington). Before this trip and after having used only an excellent (very light touch) word processor for the past ten years, I would have said I absolutely could not use a manual typewriter again. Since giving up my portable word processor in November I have managed to crank out my journal on borrowed,
Brazil Route Map
This journal deals with the second, southern part, of this route map: Salvador do Bahia, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto and Reio de Janeiro
old, and often malfunctioning typewriters. Oh, so you've noticed?]
BRAZIL PART II 1989 August 4 - 10, Salvador do Bahia (80˚ F./27˚ C., partly sunny).
Our last journal ended with us in Salvador do Bahia waiting for our mail. When it arrived we took it to an open-air café on the beach and over excellent Brazilian (strong) coffee, spent the afternoon catching up with you all via your letters. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Salvador was an extremely interesting city because it has such a strong African influence (maybe the strongest in Brazil) and the people are very proud of their heritage. Many shops sold wood carvings and terra cotta figures of deities and Candomblé (a form of Voodoo) gods; incredible lace dresses and turbans. Many of the older women wore in the traditional lace (layers of it) dresses and women young and old wore the turbans (they looked like something Carman Miranda would wear, only without the fruit).
The aspect of Salvador we found the most fascinating was the mixture of Candomblé and Catholicism. It is common to worship Candomblé gods who represent a certain part of the body or
Convento do Carmo Hotel
This is an inside wall of the converted convent - those nuns knew how to live!
things in nature (often both), have numbers and colors associated with them, and often represent a Catholic saint as well. For example, Xangô (known in Yoruba, where it originated, as Shango) is the god of fire, thunder, the ram, is associated with the colors red and white and represents the Catholic St. Barbara. Families choose (but more likely had chosen for them generations ago) a particular god to worship. They have altars in their homes and wear a piece of jewelry or article of clothing in the colors that represent their god/saint. Our guide at the museum who was explaining all of this to us had on a red and white beaded necklace. He showed us pictures of all the gods/saints and pointed out his family god, Xangô, who had on an identical necklace. Street Performance.
At the entrance to a church near our hotel a group of young men danced capoeiro every day. According to an article we read, this form of martial art/dancing is now becoming popular in the states. It is very pretty to watch; lots of kick turns and handspring movements. A single musical instrument, a strange looking drum mounted on what
photo from endlessturns.com
looks like a bow, accompanies the dancers. More About Food.
We went to a restaurant specializing in typical Bahian food. It was a buffet with 40 items, not counting the 10-12 desserts. My overall recollection was that everything was blended, whipped, mushed, minced or pureed. We had no idea what we were eating, but took a little of everything. There were lots of coconut sauces, green and red pepper garnishes and wonderful seafood. The desserts (mostly candied fruits) were so sweet they made our teeth hurt.
On Saturdays at lunch it is traditional to have feijoada, which is black beans, rice, farina (the garnish made from manioc/yuca) and unidentified meat* all mixed together. Bernie had this dish many times, I was never brave enough.**
*Learned later that the meat in this dish (if done 'traditionally') is often miscellaneous pig parts, including ears, tail and nose!
**Which is funny because I learned, with the help of Camila when she came to live with us, how to make a version of this dish (sans pig parts) and it has become a staple of ours.
Lack of North Americans.
Typical Bahai Dress
photo from escapedtoperu.com
As we toured Salvador (and in the cities in all of the north) would-be tour guides approached us and asked if you were German, French, Swiss, Italian or ten other nationalities. They said they never guessed that we were North American because so few travel in Brazil. They always thought Bernard was German and me French. Strangely though, these European tourist were given tours in English. August 10 - 11, Brasilia, Capital of Brazil (80˚ F./27˚ C., sunny). Population 400,000 with 1,000,000 in satellite cities.
Brasilia was the dream and creation of one man, a former president of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek. JK, as he is fondly referred to, wanted to develop the interior of Brazil, and so in 1956, from pure jungle, orchestrated the building of the federal district.
Brasilia is a well laid out, spacious city. In fact the plan (in the shape of a flying bird) is protected by UNESCO. The population and number of buildings are limited and strictly regulated. Bank buildings are the tallest buildings (up to 26 stories) and are all in one area;
The Elevador-Lacerda connects the lower and upper parts of Bahai. Photo from eyesonbrazil.wordpress.com
government buildings can be six stories, but again all in one area; as are the hotels, which can be sixteen stories. The living areas (eight buildings, no detached houses) all have shopping centers, a church and recreational area. The people of the area decide what kind of recreation they want - a movie theater, soccer field, etc. The kind of church is also decided by the people of the area.
*Brasilia was by far the cleanest, prettiest city we'd encountered thus far. In addition, the drivers were sane. I am sure wide boulevards and a reasonable amount of traffic helps. Still the fact that they stopped at traffic signals, and did not try to run down pedestrians was refreshing. I cannot tell you how many close-calls we have had.
*We will have to ask Camila, our Brazilian daughter who lives in Brasilia now (2010), if the city remains as clean and continues to adhere to the original plan.
Discovered, by accident, that many people spoke English. I was trying to order a sandwich at a café one lunch time and was having trouble understanding the waiter as he
Home of Jorge Amado
In the Pelourinho (Pelô to the locals), colonial center, of Bahia in the upper city. This is Jorge Amado's, a favorite author of ours, house which was very near our hotel
explained that I could choose two meats, one cheese, etc. Sounds pretty simple, but when people were speaking Portuguese to me, I could only understand a word here and there. It could be very frustrating. Thankfully a kind young lady came to my rescue and explained the process, helped me order and then waited to make sure the waiter understood.
A few minutes later as were eating our sandwiches at the counter I noticed that the man sitting next to me had on a dive watch identical to Bernard's. He saw me eyeing his watch, so I thought I'd better say something least he think I had designs on the watch. I explained in Spanish why I was looking at his watch. To which he replied in perfect English, "Are you trying to say your husband and my watches are identical." Yeah, my Spanish was that bad. The friendly man, Silverio, and we chatted through lunch, and afterwards he invited us to a speciality coffee shop where we continued our chat.
Turns out Silverio is a computer programmer and learned English for his job as most computer-related material is in English. Brazil
Because Brasilia is such a new city, the cathedral is new also and they choose to go totally non-traditional - it works!
Photo Author: Cayambe 2009/Wikipedia
is getting ready for presidential elections in November, so we had some interesting political discussions and learned much about the candidates and their platforms. We had heard one candidate speak (in Natal) and even saw him at our hotel. In fact, one of the journalists in the politician's entourage spoke English and we had a short conversation with her regarding the candidate. But back to Silverio whose favorite candidate was a successful businessman who advocated open markets, was pro-business and a humanitarian. Silverio was against the socialist government because they "socialize the debt and privatize the profits." He said it was a common complaint of the people. The present government restricts the market too much, according to Silverio. In computers, for example, American and Japanese imports are restricted to protect the Brazilian computer companies. As a result there is a lack of competition and the Brazilian computers have none of the latest advancements.* This was the same complaint voiced to us by our Brazilian friends who now live in Mexico City.
*Fernando Collor de Mello won the presidency in a controversial win over Lula da Silva, who is the current (2010) Brazilian president. Under Collor Brazil
National Congress, Brasilia
Attribute: Marcelo Jorge Vieria & Flickr
did open it markets and had economic growth, but Collor resigned to avoid impeachment about midway into his term.
Silverio confirmed our observations regarding the lack of racial conflict. He said to Brazilians the color of your skin or eyes or your ethnic background were of little concern. He thought Brazil had the most beautiful women in the world because of the mixture.
Later, at dinner, we met another man who came to our rescue. We had gone to a steak house near our hotel. After we were seated and ordered drinks, the waiter left without giving us a menu. We received our drinks and a plastic disc with red and green sides. Still no menu. I asked the waiter about ordering and he said: "green start meat; red stop meat." Clear, right? So while the waiter and Bernie are discussing this (Bernard in Spanish and the waiter in Portuguese), a man at a nearby table came over to assist. The nice man explained that there was no menu; there was only one choice and one price. The salad/vegetable bar was self-service. The waiters then brought around large skewers or platters with various
Belo Horizonte City Park
Like most of the cities in Brazil, Belo had numerous, well-used, beautiful parks and green areas
Photo Author: Bernardo Gouvea 2007/Wikipedia
kinds of grilled meats. If you wanted a portion of the meat being offered, you turned your disc to green, if not, you turned it to red. This system worked beautifully, but one has to understand the rules before one can play the game. And the food was amazing - every conceivable cut of beef was offered, plus pork, sausages and chicken.
The helpful gentleman was an English teacher and had lived in D.C. We only chatted briefly before we all returned to our copious amounts of food - took lots of concentration to do the *Churrascaria
*Churrascarias have become quite popular all over the world now, but in 1989 we'd never heard of one. Meeting the President.
Somehow I knew that my joking about meeting Castro in Cuba and President Salinas in Mexico was going to backfire on me. You probably are not going to believe me when I tell you that we saw the President of Brazil and the President of Colombia while were in Brasilia.
We were doing the usual tour of the capital - legislative buildings, national courts. At
the Presidential Palace there was a lot of activity, ceremonial military units marching, black sedans flying flags speeding everywhere. Our guide pointed out that the Colombian flag was flying next to the Brazilian flag, which was a sign that a big-wig from Colombia was in town. As we watched, the reception that had been held in the palace broke up. The President of Brazil came to the main entrance and from there presided over the departure of all the diplomats, which included the President of Colombia. As the President of Colombia started to get into his sedan, he noticed us standing the crowd. He came over, said he recognized me from my photo in the paper when I visited Cuba and consulted with Castro. He complimented me on my fine work as Ambassador-at-Large. He then led me back to the palace and presented me to the President of Brazil. We all chatted awhile as they were interested in my overall views of Latin America. When we were parting the President of Colombia told me to be sure to stop by to see him when we visited Colombia in September. He thought by then he would have more in-depth questions for
Rio de Janeiro
Famous statue overlooking Rio from Corcovado
of the above is true. Or as Sen. Kyle from Arizona would say, I didn't really lie as it was intended to be factual. August 12, Belo Horizonte.
We took a bus, eleven hours, from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte. I thought it would be a killer trip, but not so. We stopped about every three hours at clean rest stops where there were restaurants, snack bars, ice cream parlors, bars and much more. The first stop was for lunch (40 minutes), the rest were for about fifteen minutes each. The time flew by and we were relaxed and rested when we reached Belo Horizonte.
Our destination was Ouro Preto, but were not able to get there without overnighting in Belo Horizonte, the third largest city in Brazil. With the help of a nice man we'd chatted with on the bus (he wanted to practice his English) we found a very nice hotel within walking distance of the bus terminal and made arrangements for a bus the following morning to Ouro Preto. Ouro Preto
(70 F./21˚ C. during the days; 55-60 F./13-15.5˚ C. nights; mostly sunny). What a
From atop our hotel
jewel of a town, literally. Ouro Preto is the center of the gem mining area. The town is colonial in style and built into the hills, so the streets are quite steep. This is a tourist town, which means it is wealthy and thus clean and well-maintained. The shops offer all kinds of gold and wonderful gems from amethyst to zircon. Ouro Preto is small and picturesque with 13 churches - majestic church steeples dominate the skyline and colonial facades line the cobblestone streets.
So guess what there is to do in Ouro Preto? You got it, visit jewelry stores and tour churches. Bernie's parents would have been so proud of us; they were constantly trying to get Bernard inside a church until the day they died (which then, of course, got him to a church!). Point of Interest.
Saw in the international edition of Time Magazine that the presidents of the Central American countries met in Honduras at the beach town of Tela. I described this resort in one of my earlier journals as we stayed there when we visited Honduras in November. When we were in Costa Rica in January I happened to mention this lovely resort to President Arias. I am flattered that he thought enough of my recommendation to hold the conference there. August 16 - 22, Rio De Janeiro (76-88˚F./24-88˚ C., sunny).
Rio!! I did not think I would even like it. With all the horrible things one hears of robbers and safety problems, I expected to find a city under siege. Not so.
Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is situated at the foot of mountains that slope down to white sand beaches. There are coves and bays everywhere, and a huge lake in the middle of town. The city is beautifully maintained with beach parks galore and numerous greenbelts and parks.
As in any big city, we had to be careful with cameras and other valuables. From what we had been told, muggers could be violent, we took heart in observing that nothing seemed to deter the Brazilians from enjoying all Rio had to offer. The beaches were packed with families loaded down with coolers, games and gear for a day at the beach. Many wore watches and jewelry. As tourists we knew we were targets and so took nothing except towels, books and sunscreen to the beach. We only took the camera out twice for short periods. Fellows, you are going to love the beach shots Bernard took.
We found a delightful hotel ($25 with breakfast) just off Copacabana Beach. We had a big, comfortable room (TV, refrigerator, dining area, extra bed & air-conditioning) with an ocean view. Loved the view, but never used the air-con as there was a perpetual sea breeze flowing through our room. Sleeping was heavenly. Many of the hotel staff spoke English so our communication frustration was eased. Actually, since Rio is visited by oodles of tourists, quite a few of the restaurants had English menus and many waiters were fairly proficient. Many stores had 'English Spoken Here' signs in their windows.
Our hotel neighborhood was perfect - many fine restaurants, tons of shopping on Copacabana Avenue one block away. The street we were on was not a thoroughfare, so not much traffic and lots of small shops, bakeries, pizza parlors, fruit and vegetable vendors. The beach was less than a block away so we strolled the well-lighted malecón/esplanade after dinner. The whole beach area was well-lighted so soccer and volley ball games continued well into the night. All day long and into the night people biked, ran, walked, strolled their children along the malecón. It was always busy and we felt no fear at all. Bernard ran there every day.
The bus system in Rio is easy to figure out so we decided to hop a bus to one of the city overlook parks, yeah, the famous one, Sugarloaf. This we did successfully. After a nice afternoon at the overlook park, we headed back to our hotel. First mistake: I said why don't we take the same numbered bus back because we'd been told it would just do a circuit and we'd get back to exactly where we had been picked it up. Second mistake: Bernard agreed. The bus did indeed do a circuit - around the entire city! We rode for one and a half hours through rush hour traffic on a packed bus. We had a map so could follow our circuitous route in agonizing detail.
The most entertaining part of the bus ride occurred about 45 minutes into it when we got to observe passionate Brazilian behavior.
A woman and boy of about 12 got on the bus. The bus driver asked if the boy paid. The woman said no, he was a student and didn't have to pay. The bus driver disagreed, said he had to pay. At this point half of the people on the bus started yelling at the driver. The other half started yelling at/with the other passengers. Bernard and I were seated separately. My seat partner started yelling at me. All of the yelling was accompanied by hand gestures, raspberry noises and whistling. The people on the bus supported the kid. This made the driver mad. He yelled back at the people for a bit, but this made the people louder. Finally the driver pulled off the road, turned off the engine, folded his arms across his chested and refused to drive. What a hoot! This didn't last long, however, as the driver's better sense finally kicked into gear. We resumed our trip, but with the passengers still grumbling and laughing with one another.
This whole incident was so strange to us because it all transpired in a language we don't speak. All I could do as my seat partnered yelled at me was nod. We were again lucky. A young girl standing over Bernie heard us talking. She spoke English and explained the situation to us. We had figured out the crux of the problem, but she was able to clarify and confirmed everything. Surprise: Next journal entry will be from a little side trip we took from Brazil to South Africa!