Tag Archives: Salvador da Bahia

Happy Birthday Salvador

Happy Birthday, Salvador!

The first capital of Brazil, Salvador da Bahia, is 461 years old today, 29th of March 2010!

Compared with many European cities, this number might not be very impressive, but Salvador is, still, one of the oldest cities in Brazil. And for 461 years, it has a lot of (hi)stories to tell. Founded in colonial times, having played an important role in the era of slavery, and consequently having been one of the centers of the movements of resistance, and for the abolition of slavery and later, until now, of the movements for racial equality, “Salvador” has a special meaning for everyone who lives in or even only visited it. There is something special about the “City of Salvador (the Savior) by the Bay of all Saints”. Despite of the many dark chapters in its history, and despite of the fact that still today, the city struggles with huge problems (social inequality, high unemployment and poverty rate, an inappropriate infrastructure with a tube line of only 8 km which has been under construction for over 20 years and still is not in service, while roads are getting more congested by the day, and a growing crime rate, related to an increase in the use of drugs and drug traffic, amongst others….), despite of all these difficulties, Salvador is a city that is loved and admired by most of its inhabitants and visitors. When asked, they will tell what they love and admire: the beauty of this city by the sea with countless beaches and view of the bay and its islands, the music, the colors, the culture and traditions and dance, the year-round sun and the sea, the food, and – most of all – the smile of its people. Maybe the “something special” about Salvador is just this: HOPE. Despite of all problems, people smile. This may not be the best way to start a revolution to change and improve things quickly, but it makes each day a little bit better. And it fascinates.

Today on its 461st anniversary, Salvador celebrates with a bit of everything. The city organizes educational tours for schools to historical places, to keep awake the memory of both good and bad moments of its history. Several architectural projects such as health centers, public squares and areas for physical exercise have been finalized and opened to the public, to improve the quality of life in the specific neighborhoods in the city. Libraries and shopping centers are hosting photographic exhibitions capturing the visual beauty of Salvador and it people. And one thing that cannot be missing: Music. At night, on the square Praça Castro Alves, Salvador celebrates its birthday with shows with the popular band Parangolé – and with the Gospel Band MD7, which brings us back to the theme of HOPE.

Want a glimpse of the preview of the Birthday Party: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07knDJcRVTc

So whether we consider 461 years for a city old or young, the lesson of Hope is a beautiful lesson Salvador can teach. Happy Birthday, Salvador.

With best wishes from Brazil

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A happy new year from Brazil!

Well, you may say, the year 2010 is not all that new any more, except in China, where they celebrated the new Year, the year of the tiger, just on February 14th, while in large parts of the Western world, couples exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts and swore each other eternal love during a romantic candlelight dinner behind windows covered in snow.

In Brazil, none of these customs have been given much importance during those days: it was Carnival. Samba dancers with coffee brown skin in colorful costumes were to be admired in the Sambodromo stadim in Rio de Janeiro and on television screens in Brazil and all over the world. Giant caricature statues of politicians and celebrities were carried through Olinda’s Baroque streets.

In Salvador on Brazil’s North-East coast, popular bands played Axé music and percussion rhythms from giant trucks, so called “Trio Eletricos”, completely covered in loudspeakers, and made millions of people from all over the world dance along the palm-tree lined beach promenade. From Thursday to Tuesday, from noon till dawn, the city gets carried away in a non stop celebration. And even on Ash Wednesday the party is not over yet. Whoever can still stand on his own legs takes part in the “Arrastao”, in which the best bands play this year’s most poplar songs over and over, mixed with songs dealing specifically with the yearning for the next Carnival. Simultaneously, in Rio, the winner’s parade features the best of the best of this year’s samba school contest and the shows com to a dazzling climax.

Only the next day, on Thursday, all is over: the carnival, and with it the Brazilian summer, the time of festivals, shows, travel and vacation, which began for many in the Christmas days. And only when the carnival is over, when all of the costumes shown, all new songs are played and all festivals are celebrated, only then is the time for life to go back to its normal rhythm. This is when schools and universities, shops and offices get busy and lively again. Therefore, Brazilians say: the new year begins after the carnival – regardless of religions and calendars.

A happy new year from Brazil!

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