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Salvador de Bahia

Sunday at the Beach

sunny 90 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.

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Salvador, the former capital of Brazil, thrums with life. The city’s rich mix of black African and native Brazilian cultures underlays the colors and music that fill the streets, but two other factors blew it over the top for us. First, we docked next to a huge MSC cruise ship that disgorged 49 tours of 60 passengers each. Their busses and their folks were overwhelming. Second, we were there on a Sunday and were told that in Salvador, Sundays are very special, that everyone, black and white, old and young, rich and poor, get up early and get dressed up and travel as a family to go to ..... drum roll .... the beach. The beaches are gorgeous, but we were thinking of another word that ends in –ch.

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We visited the prominent lighthouse, the craft market, and a monument to a cathedral demolished by the government in order to locate a new tramline. The monument is provocative: a damaged cross toppling into the sea. We traveled there not on a tram but a bus that displayed the sign pictured here. Even those with rudimentary Portuguese can see the difficulty: who gets to decide who is obese???

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Our bus took us from the lower city to the upper city; the residents take an elevator, the Lacerda, which whisks them up and down and costs onlypennies. At the top, St. Francis Church awed us, Francis, remember, the one who gave his clothes away to the poor. There we saw amazing gilt ceilings and altars, along with pulpits borne up by full breasted cupids. It was hard to find a place to rest one’s eyes. But then we emerged into a large cloister whose arcade walls were decorated with azulejo tile murals. The ten foot panels depicted the history of the people and the monastery and proclaimed adages to live by.

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We imagined the monks walking prayerfully in this space and looked at the maxims that would have inspired them:
Everything obeys money
Diverse is the dominion of money
Money permits everything.

Hot and sticky and tired, we returned to our opulent cruise ship, unavoidably considering the contrasts between our luxury and the poverty around us. We were grateful for a wonderful dinner conversation with friends who are entangled with the same questions. And so we talked of local versus international mission, of giving money versus giving time, of responsibility to use the gifts we are given, of responsibility to rejoice and be thankful. Sorry, we have no answers, but we appreciate the help exploring the questions.

Posted by HopeEakins 08:08 Archived in Brazil

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