Soul of Salvador


On Tuesday nights in Salvador da Bahia, the Pelourinho goes electric. Every direction you turn you encounter a parade of people blockading the cobble stoned streets jamming to live music, cups in hand, socializing, dancing, relishing the sounds and pure energy of it all.  It was the week before Easter and this town trembled from the inside out under the brilliance of a full moon. The melody of Samba lingered in the distance and parading Olodum drums crackled like fireworks in your ear, emitting intense African rhythms your body could not resist. In another corner of the neighborhood a man dressed in only thick metal chains belted out passionate Reggae tunes as a local household cooked up some barbecue on the sidewalk nearby. The smells of Brazilian Churrasco competed with the earthy scent that wafted from the traditional Acaragé vendors scattered about. It was impossible to ignore the lure of the festivities, in the same way it is unnatural to look away from a burning fire. I contemplated running back to the Hostel to grab my camera but I could not tear myself away from enjoying the moment.

As we headed up to the church on the outskirts of town for the live Samba show, we ducked into a small bar for a caipirinha. The vibe in this Bohemian-esque hideaway was so totally different from anything outside and I immediately took a liking to the place. It was easy to make friends here, I felt like I had traveled into the past to a sort of Latin Beat Generation era; Kerouac was there too, only he was Colombian. The rest of our days in Salvador were spent with these lovely like-minded people, mostly expats from South America, and professionals, artists or travelers from all corners of the earth. Philosophy, stimulating conversation, and dancing ensued until the wee hours of the morning as many worlds collided harmoniously. A mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Greek, and Italian poured from people’s mouths and glided through the air like a song. I soaked it all up, these instances of pure cultural exchange and the co-mingling of different minds occurring in this foreign place to the soundtrack of raw music made my soul rejoice.

When you looked around that night under the light of the moon you saw sparkling sweat, smiles, movement and life all unraveling before the backdrop of an old colorful colonial town setting, the beauty and grit of this place and its people created pure magic. As a friend cleverly stated, “that was the best time I’ve had at church, ever!”

Jack said it best,

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”