Before I left for Brazil, a friend told me: ‘The Brazilians have a way with their music. You’re going to feel it coursing within you. You’ll know what I mean when you’re there.’
Today I felt a snippet of what he meant.
Waking up in Hotel Cores de Mar, just across the road from the beach, we have breakfast and then catch a bus into Pelourinho.
Just across from the bus stop, on the sand in front of the water, a series of soccer games are in motion. A week ago, if you asked me to picture Brazil, this is exactly the kind of scene I imagined – soccer on the beach.
On our journey into Pelourinho, people go above and beyond for us. Waiting at the bus stop, one girl stayed there the whole time until our specific bus came for us. She only had a few stops to go, which could have been achieved by any of the passing buses, but she waiting specifically for the one that would take us to Pelourinho. Once we got off the bus, the bus driver personally walked us down the street to the famous elevator that would take us up to Pelourinho and its main square. And all we had to do was say ‘Obrigada’.
Taking the elevator up and catching a glimpse of the huge city around us, Dee and myself are bombarded with street vendors, trying to catch our attention with their jewellery, their tour guide offers and their colourful, traditional African clothing. We end up buying a berimbau-viola necklace each, a musical instrument usually accompanying the traditional capoeira and we take a photo with an African-Brazilian dressed in traditional clothing.
Declining all of the offered tour guides, we follow behind what appears to be a group of tourists heading towards what we think is the centre of Pelourinho. But the sound of music side-tracks us as we see people gathered, circling around a capoeira movement. Their energy is contagious and we join in the clapping as people move in and out of the capoeira battle.
Pelourinho’s main square is just around the corner and we spend the next hour exploring it’s surrounding streets of colourful buildings, colonial churches and petite cafes. We’re once again side-tracked with the beating of drums resonating through the town.
All down the length of a street is a group of drummers, roughly five abreast, twiddling their sticks and pounding their drums. But it’s the symphony they create that is magical. Each drummer plays their own individual part and together they create a music that beats through your body. They move us one, as they step side to side and hype the atmosphere around them. Two men – let me call them conductors, walk through the ensemble making adjustments to the rhythm of individual drummers until they are content with the outcome. To my untrained ears the outcome is perfect and all I feel the need to do is move my body to its melody. I barely knew that drums could even create a melody, but this was one of a kind.
We spend the next hour relaxing in the main square after we have tried our first capirinha. The capirinha didn’t taste good to me at all, it reminded me too much of the Pitu can I tried a few nights ago and it didn’t feel like it was going to sit well in my stomach. So Dee took the bullet and drank both of them. Feeling abnormally great on life we find a good lunch spot just outside the plaza and have some spaghetti for lunch.
Roaming around town, searching for the street Michael Jackson recorded his video, ‘They don’t really care about us’ – which i think we find, we bump talk to one of the locals who tells us there’s a festival happening in La Baha. So we catch a taxi down there to check it out. We walk around the seaside and find ourselves in the midst of a parade. Staged-vans roll down the walkway blasting music, guitarists sit at the back of trucks, belting out their chords and musical patterns, bands of drummers dance down the street creating their symphonies. Music is everywhere! People are everywhere! Everywhere there’s movement and there’s smiles all round. We seriously dance into the sunset before we head back through the traffic to our hotel.