Basking in the Beauty of Bahia: Salvador, Brazil (March 2017)


Long before I ever smelled the combined scents of livestock, seafood, and fresh produce wafting though the Sao Joaquim market…tasted (and later “feened") moqueca and acerola juice…saw a cross being passed through the congregation of Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretor and watched people passionately run up just to touch a piece of it…or heard a man yell to me- in broken English - “I want to kiss your mouth”…

I felt Salvador.

In fact, I felt it 21 years ago as a college student in New Orleans.


I was a dancer with an Afro-Brazilian troupe called Casa Samba. One of our leaders included Master Drummer Jorge Alaba, who once served as the percussion director for the Brazilian performance group, Oba Oba. He, along with Curtis and Carolyn Pierre introduced me, as well as the other dancers and percussionists, to the rich African history of Salvador. The group was (and still is) in high demand throughout the country. So, in order for us to perform well in front of numerous audiences, we had to know the history of the dances and the music, and most importantly, we had to feel it. And we spent hours in practice each week feeling it. We felt the anger and the fight of the slaves in maculele. We felt the struggle to survive in capoeira. We felt the spirits of our ancestral gods through the dances of the orixas. And we felt the joy and the beauty of our Blackness in samba.

These are feelings I never forgot.

Courtesy: Ashleigh Reddy for Travel Noire

A few weeks ago, I was able to not only feel, but see, smell, hear, and taste Salvador with eleven other beautiful women and one lucky young man. Thanks to Travel Noire, we traveled from different parts of the U.S. and the U.K. to bask in the beauty of this city which served as the first slave port in the Americas and is home to the largest population of African descendants outside of Africa. With the help of our phenomenal tour guide, Josuel Queiroz, we experienced not just the area’s physical beauty of cobblestones and colorful buildings, but its mental beauty of fiercely recognizing and celebrating its African heritage through food, dance, art, hair, clothing…basically, life.

Courtesy: Ashleigh Reddy for Travel Noire


Despite the language barrier, we were accepted. We were loved. And we felt right at home, which, out of all the five senses, we appreciated that feeling of “belonging” the most…

Obrigada, Salvador.

Tell me: Is there a country (outside of your home country) where you have felt welcomed and as if you truly belonged?

Comments

  1. Hello!
    I just happened upon your blog after reading your article 'How To Piss Off Someone from Memphis', really cool you saw my motherland, Brazil!
    Even more so, you experienced Bahia which is beautiful in culture as it is aesthetically!
    Check out Trancoso, Bahia if you ever happen to go back.
    My mother owns and operates a bed in breakfast called Trancoso Hostel e Suites!
    All the Best!
    ✌��

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading my post! Salvador is amazing! I definitely plan to visit again in the future, and I will be sure to add Trancoso on my list! There is so much to explore in Bahia alone. It was truly an unforgettable trip!

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