Showing posts from September, 2008

Top Five Things To Do In Salvador, Bahia

Salvador, Bahia grabs the heart of any visitor and never releases it. Even when I was in Rio, American tourists urged me to visit Salvador if I wanted to see the real Brazil. It's true, Salvador boasts charm and visual treats that you can't find in any other place in the world. I think it's all that history crammed into one place. Salvador was Brazil's first capitol and it boasts so many historical monuments, places and people that you can literally visit one every five minutes. Great destinations always seem to attract a fair share of tourist traps, however. I thought the famed Mercado Modelo was filled with vendors hustling a load of mostly overpriced junk. The picturesque Pelourinho Square brims with addicts and pick pockets. So my favorite Salvador memories focus on slightly less touristy activities: 1. Eating Mocqueca at Iemanja Restaurant. Acraraje might be Salavador's quintessential snack food but Mocqueca is the ultimate of Bahian cuisine. A smooth, creamy


As I writer, I 've developed an ear for language. I love to soak in speech cadences and the rhythms of different dialects. Although I've heard lots of Portuguese crooned from my tons of Brazilian, Cape Verdean and a few Portuguese Cd's, I wasn't ready for what I heard in Brazil. I felt like I was pushed into this world that lured me in with familiar Latin words and then shut me down with crazy interpretations. I pride myself on grasping enough of a culture so that I can blend in fairly quickly. Brazilians embraced me first as a Rio C arioca and then as a Salvador Baiana but I felt like a fake as soon as I opened my mouth. My brain couldn't process the sounds of the words and my mouth couldn't spit them out. Nothing made sense to me and I felt mentally crippled more than a few times. It might be a cliche but one thing about Brazilians is that they are genuinely warm and free-spirited. Even though my speech sounded like a clunky blend of grammar school Spanish t

A Tiny Piece of Carnaval

I journeyed to Rio during the Brazilian winter. This means that I didn't witness any actual nude sunbathing or glimpse the notorious Copacabana dental-flossed behinds. It also means that I didn't get to see Carnaval. Instead, I saw the half-mile expanse of the Sambadrome, empty of all the Carnaval crowds and clutter. Without the samba schools dancing and the floats rolling by, the space still seemed to vibrate with the energy left behind. There's nothing really spectacular about the Sambadrome itself, it's just a road flanked by spectator stands. But when I walked a few feet down the road, it was easy to imagine the seats filled with 65,000 screaming cariocas. You can see Rio's sweeping mountains dotted with favelas straight ahead. Off to the side, there's a small store bursting with the sequins and feathers of Carnaval costumes. You can buy or rent the costumes and I tried on a sparkly pink and orange confection. Marching down the Sambadrome with my feathers r

Washing The Steps With Miracles

Filled with cobblestone streets, colonial architecture and historic landmarks on about every block, Salvador reflects the true heart of Brazilian culture. When I stepped upon the sunny streets of Salvador for the first time, the difference between urbane Southern cities like Rio was palpable. The air is filled with the fragrance of guavas, mangoes and acaraje sold on the streets. Baianas navigate the winding avenues and squares with a more languorous pace. The cobalt blue water of the Bay of All Saints wraps around the city and blows a feeling of tranquility over everything. Salvador is sometimes called the Black Rome and it's easy to figure out why. The city boasts 72 Catholic churches, there appears to be one on every block. But candomble, the practice of Catholicism mixed with African deities and rituals is the true focus. Figures of Imemanja, the popular goddess of the sea, pop up on restaurants and in a house dedicated to her along the Bay. T-shirts and figures in the

Blog Love

Farsighted Fly Girl got tagged for being a favorite blog of the wise and wonderful Saleemah at Mahogany Chic, which features a great mix of beauty, fashion and politics. I feel extremely grateful for the recognition since this blog has only been around for a very short time. I'm a blogging newbie but I still know a great blog when I see one! Here are some for my favorites: Almost Fearless , which follows the enthralling account of Christine, who ditched her job to travel the world. Bohemian Bahamian, which focuses on the experiences of a sociology grad student of Bahamian heritage. Cool Travel Guide, a beyond cool account of exotic adventures from an Aussie travel writer based in Dubai. Lalla Lydia offers the intriguing perspective of an American living in Morocco. Out and About in Africa , serves up a hodgepodge of tidbits about Sudan, Kenya, African fashion designers and African history from an American international development worker. She's So Flyy , a really popular blog

Aromatic String

As I bustled past street vendors selling coconut candy bars and the sleek, shiny-haired, hotties that fill Rio streets, I realized that I missed something. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly. When I neared the the orgy of beauty called Copacabana Beach, observing the languid motions of skimpily-clad cariocas strolling in the sand, it hit me. There was supposed to be a samba soundtrack to all of these scenes! How can you have a true Brazilian experience without samba as the backdrop? I needed to hear some live Brazilian rhythms! It happened to be a Sunday when I made my proclamation and my guide Da'vid didn't look too confident about it. It seems that most musicians take Sundays off in Rio. There I was, in the party capitol of the universe and it stops on Sunday? It didn't make much sense to me so we headed to the famous bohemian district of Lapa. Overflowing with street hustlers and artists of all stripes, Lapa does not close down. Built in the 18th century and m

Tasty Cultural Connections

Brazilian culture overflows with rich African cultural connections and in Bahia, you can taste as well as see it . I explored classic Brazilian dishes spiced with African influences in a post for Galavanting Magazine's travel blog here but I didn't explain the depth of the Nigerian influence on acaraje. Eating acaraje is practically a legal requirement when you visit Salvador. In London, you must nibble fish and chips, dripping with grease and wrapped in paper. In Jamaica, you must savor ackee and saltfish cooled with sea breezes. And in Salvador, you must buy acaraje from a Baiana de acaraje , on the cobble-stoned streets with samba rhythms blasting through the air. Acaraje is a black-eyed pea fritter fried in palm oil. Typically, it's cut in half and topped with caruru, an okra stew, vatapa a mixture blended with dried shrimp, cashews, peanuts and coconut milk and a salad made of chopped tomatoes and onions. Peppery and laden with fat, it is the quintessential Brazil

Fly Obama Mamas

Blending fierce African flavor with sophisticated French flair, Les Nubians personify global style. Crooning their signature mix of soaring harmonies, jazz melodies and African beats, the sister duo appeared at Chicago's African Festival of the Arts over Labor Day weekend. I covered the sizzling show and was struck by just how well they reflect the connections between Africa and the Western world. Slinking out in curve-skimming halter dresses inlaid with African print fabric at the top and embellished with beads and cowrie shells, Celia rocked a curly 'fro and Helene an afro puff. They sang in French and shimmied their hips in traditional African dance. They rapped in English and announced the African concept for audience participation: "You can't shake it with your brain. You shake it with your yaunch. That means your ass. The original Africanology is very simple. If you don't dance, we don't dance!" Les Nubians connected it all together when t