The Mud Giveth and the Mud Taketh Away

On the evening of Monday the 7th last, massapé (the rich soil forming the basis of Bahia’s plantation economy and spurring the foundation of its capital Salvador) in the form of an escarpment-over-sea on the Alto da Sereia (Mermaid’s Height) in the Salvador neighborhood of Rio Vermelho gave way, the living room and kitchen of a modest house plunging into the water below. The family who lived there — a young woman, her mother, her brother and her son — thankfully was not at home. This graciousness of fate is more often not the case when the massapé gives way though.

This fact of life and the life behind it in the humble neighborhoods of Salvador, Bahia form the basis for the short story Massapé, by Ben Paris.