March 7 and 8, 2023
We have two days in this port due to the cancellation of our port in Vitoria. When we arrived into port, I was sort of surprised how large the city was – I hadn’t really done any research into it and I knew that many of the places we were going to visit in Brazil would be pretty small.
We were greeted by women in African Costumes who tied colorful strings on our wrists. It is said that when they fall off your wishes will be answered. Mine didn’t last the day! You also find many tied onto bridges and in the churches.
On Tuesday, we had booked a tour with Sonia, Boris, Mui and Erin, and Karen and Bruce joined us too. Our guide was Vagner. It was very hot here, and he said it is one of the hottest cities in Brazil. The first thing we found out is that the van’s air conditioning wasn’t working properly. He said that when we got to a walking portion of the tour, he would get a different van. In the meantime, he gave us some information about this city. We drove along All Saint’s Bay which is the second biggest bay in Brazil. The population of the city is million and 85% of the population is Black. This was, in fact, the first slave harbor with people coming by ship from Africa. Slaves came here from 1551-1888 and Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery. Nevertheless, illegal slave trade persisted until 1903.
The chief exports here are oil, agricultural products including cocoa and coffee and tourism is third in contribution to the economy. Vagner says that the people here are the most laid back in the country, so much so that they are the subject of jokes from Brazilians from other areas.
Vagner spoke excellent English and told us he took 2 years of lessons but then learned on his own for 6 more years. He was well versed on the sights we went to and also on the history of the area.
There are many beautiful beaches here. We also visited a lighthouse where the main attraction outside seemed to be this woman covered in either body paint or tattoos! Many of the women, no matter what their shapes, seem to wear thong bikinis. This one could pull it off pretty well!
We did about 2 hours of walking through areas of the city and we were pretty hot and tired. My ankle held up OK, some swelling but really no pain to speak of. We visited several baroque churches, all inlaid with gold. The African slaves did the carving, but in spite of being converted (or pretending to be converted) to Catholicism, they were not permitted inside the church for any services. In one church, the Franciscan, the slaves showed their protest by making ugly faces on some of the cherubs in the church.
When we got ready to do the rest of the driving to other areas, a new van with a new driver met us. The AC was better but really not as cool as we would have needed on this hot day.
Here are some of the sights. We did ask why no one does damage to the churches and removes some of the gold. Vagner showed us some places that were damaged, but now that it is a UNESCO site, there is a lot more security.
The city is divided into the Upper Town and the Lower Town. This elevator was build in 1933 and has since been updated.
This church has the outdoor courtyard and all the way around are these Portuguese tiles that all represent something different. Beautiful!
This square was the site of a filming of a Michael Jackson short film. There are lots of colorful houses here.
In the last church we visited, the Bonfim Church, there was a “Room of Miracles” which is part of the yearly pilgrimage of people asking for miracles. The body part replicas are left by the faithful when asking for divine intervention. There were some ankles there!
There are many lovely buildings here but there are still lots of favelas here where the poorest people live.
We visited a lake that was created by the Dutch during their 3 years of occupation here. Now it contains a series of African gods, named for forces of nature, much like the Greek or Roman gods.
He also warned us of people who want to pose for photos for money, those that paint white “tattoos” on your skin, also for money, and about not venturing down any streets except the main ones (we were with him the whole time so it wasn’t an issue) because of high incidence of crime, mostly pickpockets and thieves. We heard later that 4 people from the ship were robbed in this port.
We had a stop at their most famous ice cream parlor and there were probably 50 flavors. I went with the African Chocolate cone and it was wonderful.
Our last stop was a market, but we weren’t really interested in any of the mostly touristic items there.
In the evening, since we are in port, there was a deck party and it was just as much fun as the last one. I did all of the line dances and my ankle held up just fine!
Here are a couple of pictures of our group. And the full moon from the Terrace Cafe at dinner!
Today, we opted to rest in the air conditioned comfort of the ship. I figured it would be good to rest my ankle anyway. So we went off the ship just to the terminal to try to update our devices which really didn’t work out as the connection was sooooo slow and intermittent. Two huge cruise ships were also in port today. This would have been our only day in port before they changed it, so I am glad we had our sightseeing yesterday.
The wifi on the ship was bad today too, we hear it is because they hook up to the local networks when in port, so no surprise here. Crazy to think it is better when we are out at sea!
We are gearing up for a big Academy Awards party here on the ship and Ray says there will be a red carpet, so we should dress up. Some of the nominees are on our TV, so today we watched The Fablemans. Tar is there too so one of these days we will watch that one. It seems Everything Everywhere All At Once is dominating in the other awards shows. I did see that one and while the basic story was a good one, I could not get into all of the special effects. Maybe I need to give it another look. It isn’t on our system yet though.
Tonight we have a show called Celtic Rock with a performer who has played with Lord of the Rings, E Sarah Carter. I am looking forward to that.
Tomorrow we will be in Maceio Brazil, a new port for us.
Happy to hear your ankle is holding up