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  • Writer's pictureRodrigo Baena

The Enigmatic Energy of Salvador, Brazil.

Baianas, the traditional dancers of Salvador

We arrived in the city with not many expectations. Lately, we had been visiting different towns and finding ourselves underwhelmed, only to later discover the heart of the place and fall in love.

It happened with Olinda, Pernambuco, and on our last trip to Japaratinga, in the state of Alagoas. Salvador was different. The city was bigger. Being the capital of Bahia, we expected it to be bustling with activity.

After navigating through the taxi situation at the airport, narrowly avoiding a scam by someone posing as a transportation representative, we finally made our way to our hotel.

About 30 minutes later, we found ourselves arriving in the Rio Vermelho neighborhood. This area is known for hosting the largest celebration for Yemanjá in Brazil.

Yemanjá, known as the Divine Mother, is a water goddess in Afro-Brazilian traditions. In Bahia, she is the orixá of salt water, the deity of the ocean. We were well aware of her significance. In fact, we had come specifically because of her. In the Afro-Brazilian traditions, believers turn to her in search of good health, fertility, and abundance. As we were in the process of international adoption, we came to Yemanjá's celebrations seeking blessings for our growing family.

As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we took a walk around the neighborhood and called family. At first glance, I didn't see the beauty that I had found in other Northeast Brazilian towns. Everything seemed a bit chaotic, a bit unkempt. Was this the Salvador that everyone talked about?

I didn't want to jump to conclusions on our first day in the city. We decided to take a stroll towards the beach, observing the city as it geared up for Carnaval, the craziest time of the year.

We searched for signs of Yemanjá celebrations or preparations, but all we found were people selling small statues, t-shirts, and accessories adorned with her image. I was beginning to feel a bit disappointed when we witnessed the sunset. Oh, the sunset. I had heard once that a sunset in Bahia is unlike any other in the world. And that's absolutely true.

I had forgotten my cellphone and camera back at the hotel, so I couldn't even capture the unbelievably beautiful sunset (the photo bellow is from the next day =). It was like a painting come to life, so perfectly rendered that you question its reality.

The sunset of the next day

Fishermen were casting their nets into the water, African music filled the air, locals strolled along the shoreline, and everything seemed to be in perfect harmony.

As we walked a bit further, we saw a group of women dressed in beautiful white dresses approaching the beach. They carried vases made of mud filled with flowers. About seven or eight of them walked towards the water's edge to offer gifts to Yemanjá. I was mesmerized.

They began singing traditional African songs, dancing, and celebrating the Orisha. In that moment, I felt a connection to my African heritage that I had never experienced before. Emotions overwhelmed me, and tears streamed down my face uncontrollably.

It was then that I understood: that was the energy, the beauty that everyone talks about in Salvador.

(More to come...)



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