Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Maceio to Praia do Forte. 340 miles. (February 9th – 14th, 2011)

Leaving Praia do Frances we drove on BR101 to Estancia, passing through Aracaju and then took the Linha Verde (the coastal road) to Salvador. The Linha Verde is beautiful, following the Atlantic Ocean with gorgeous, well maintained beaches bordered by coconut palms. Our first night we spent in Porto do Sauipe in the old part of town. The newer part of the Costa was built in 2001 with luxury resorts and a world renowned golf course but we could not park there, so we stayed in the old town by the beach. It is only for the night as we need to make up a little time – Rio is still more than 1,300 miles away! Before leaving on Thursday morning, we browsed the local artisan shops and purchased a large, pretty blue quartz carving of a girl dancing. Carvings from Brazilian hardwoods and quartz are extremely ubiquitous and are found everywhere in the area. This one happened to be done by the owner and was very reasonable. Our stop in Salvador was actually about 30 mile from the city at Praia do Forte. This is a 7 mile stretch of white sand beach bordered by palms with warm, turquoise water and plenty of reefs. As we entered the town we were hoping to park on the beach but finally settled for a 24 hr. guarded, fenced lot with water and electricity about a block inland. Also, imagine our surprise to see another motor home, the first we have seen in a long time, owned by a Brazilian couple. Marcia and Wilson are from the state of Parana and are vacationing on the northeast coast. They will follow the path we have just taken before returning home through the central mountain region. They were astonished at our journey and had many questions for us. Praia do Forte is amazingly pretty and we will stay through the weekend and leave Tuesday. We even find the time to browse some of the shops and Tom bought a pair of shorts and a shirt whilst I found a couple of pretty swimsuit cover-ups embroidered with Baiana lace that the state of Bahia is famous for and a dress. Sunday we went to mass at one of the smallest churches we have visited. It is located right on the beach and it was definitely one of the most exuberant, energetic services’ we have attended so far. The Salvador region is where much of the food, religion, dances and music that symbolizes Brazil originated. The Catholic Portuguese culture was blended with the beliefs and ways of the slaves who were brought from Western Africa to produce the hypnotic, rhythmic beat of symbolizes Brazilian life. The Brazilians love of music and dance is in evidence everywhere we go and their exuberance for life prevalent in every aspect of the culture. And so it was in church that Sunday that we heard mass accompanied by drumbeats and a tambourine, played by a Rastafarian man with the congregations voices singing to a Brazilian beat and yet surrounded by the incense and formality of a more traditional Catholic service. Even though we could not understand the sermon or parts of the mass, Tom and I completely loved participating in the clapping and hand-holding that accompanied the music. What fun.

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