Dia 24 – Museums, Junk food and Samba (:Ollie)

After our discussion at Daniel’s birthday we decided to go to the model market in a renewed search for Cordel Literature, which we haven’t managed to find yet. The model market is the centre of the lower city, especially in terms of touristic appeal, and most of the shops sell trinkets and souvenirs. We set up camp in a small bar, and waited for the Acaraje stalls to open up. I have become quite addicted now, they are so delicious! It’s almost as bad as Rosie’s coconut water addiction… The café we were sat at had a roaring trade in letting customers pay twice the price for local foods which the waitress would then go and get from a stall around the corner. After breakfast I went for a wander in an attempt to get some better pictures of the docks, which proved challenging as it is all very protected and surrounded by high walls.

After an hour or so I returned to the model market, which had got a bit livelier, and we searched for the cordel literature we’d been told about. Sadly we had no success so returned to the flat where we went through Tent of Miracles and came up with a shooting plan for the week. After a snack lunch we grabbed our stuff and headed to the Palacete das Artes, which housed a collection of art works stretching back to Salvador’s earliest days. There was also an exhibition of contemporary pieces, which we assumed were student made. We particularly liked a video that combined live footage and animation, which wandered around the city’s streets. The older pieces returned to the traditional, and largely religious, style that we had seen in Sao Paulo. We then headed down the street and saw what we thought was another gallery, wandering in there appeared to be some children’s event, with singing and dancing and making of paper airplanes. The building turned out to be the Carlos Costa Pinto museum, which was in some ways a fawing dedication to the apparent philanthropist who used his vast wealth to collect and preserve all manner of precious objects. Cynics that we are, and upon observing the dates and circumstances of this family (white, wealthy, from generations of sugar aristocrats), we read between the lines on the museum blurb how that wealth was accumulated. Nevertheless the collection is astounding, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much silver in one place, and the manner of presentation, in glass cabinets across several rooms lent itself to this sense of scale. The sheer size of the collection indicates just how much surplus wealth existed in those times, and was a fascinating insight into the existence of those few at the top.

Passing back through the crowds of children outside we started walking back to our flat, stopping for a brief sushi snack on the way where we paid for the single most expensive bottle of water in the  world. After a quick turnaround we made for Terrerio de Jesus, where we had arranged to meet Daniel and his family before dinner. Arriving early we found a Samba session in mid-swing, and enjoyed the music, watching old men in sparkly hats dance brilliantly with various women from the crowd. One man wore comically large shoes which served to accentuate his speedy feet as they tapped in double time to the band, all the while playing and spinning a tambourine. Aside from being conspicuous outsiders it was very pleasant and soon Daniel’s family joined us. The five of us headed down and up the otherside of the hill to Rango’s. The whole town was buzzing, people dancing, drinking and playing music in various bars and even on the street. Rango’s was rammed full of people and we got the last table in the courtyard where we were served vegan burgers, with lentils or seaweed (delicious) or Soya. After a while Daniel’s friend Nelson arrived, and discussion moved onto faith, where Nelson revealed he had been a monk for five years. Many interesting conversations followed (again in broken English, Spanish and Portuguese!) and we had a great trans-cultural discussion about spirituality! On the way out a group of musicians played The Girl from Ipenema Beach for Gabby and us, making a lovely end to the night.

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