Unless we are a part of it, or it is presented to us, history is invisible to us. Who would know that behind the small Catholic church across from a public square dedicated to poet Castro Alves (containing his statue, upon the dramatically outstretched hand of which a cup of beer is often irreverently inserted in images having to do with Carnival) existed the house of an African princess and priestess responsible for the foundation of the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé in its Brazilian form?
And who’d know that beyond the small bar filled with locals drinking beer and infusões is an excellent and inexpensive restaurant area, also very local (the place is O Cravinho, on the Terreiro de Jesus)?
And who’d know that it was a company owned by General Electric which bribed Salvador’s archbishop and knocked down a great church in order to provide a place for its streetcars to turn around?
And that within that church had been organized a lay society of slaves which had gone on to build their own church in the Largo do Pelourinho?
You get the idea…
We are Americans who’ve lived the past over-twenty years in Salvador (Ben Paris writes fiction; Randy “Pardal” Roberts writes this site and runs Cana Brava Records, a specialty record shop dedicated to real Brazilian music, located in Pelourinho for the past 13 years).
One or the other of us will guide you through this introductory tour, which will also cover explanations of wider aspects of Salvador and the far side of the bay (the Recôncavo).
P.S. We’ve taken the BBC/Lonely Planet through Carnival (for their jointly published magazine), and France Inter (French National Public Radio) to a Candomblé festival in Santo Amaro, Bahia. We took the BBC’s Radio 3 to São Braz, Bahia for roots samba (samba chula), and produced a show for David Dye and his World Café, which was broadcast coast-to-coast in the U.S. by NPR (National Public Radio).