21:30 - I was picked up by Andrea and the driver (Marcelo) early this morning. But not before I witnessed again the pace at which the locals live. At 7.30 breakfast is supposed to start...at 8 was my pickup. So at 7.40 I make my way to breakfast. Apart from hot water and a couple of cakes the breakfast had not been laid out. And it wasn't because of lack of staff. 3 people (I say three), stood chatting in front of the fruit that needed to be cut, the juice that needed to be juiced and the rest of the plates with food on them. At 8 o'clock they were still chatting away, as one of them slowly started to cut the mango into pieces...there was juice still not to be seen and at that point my pickup turned up, so I had to go with just a cup of tea in me! Anyways...
So off we went with an american couple, to Santo Amaro, Cachoeira and Sao Felix. They are three villages inland about an hour and a half from Salvador. Each of them important for the economy of the state of Bahia in the past. These days they are but a shadow of their former selves. In Santo Amaro we visited a very big market. Mainly food. There was also a vendor of rolls of tobacco who insisted in preparing sigarettes and so, I smoked one...you will see from the picture that I really can't help looking like a ridiculous person. As we went through the market Andrea made sure we tried some ofnthe unusual fruit on display. Some good, some I could have done without :-). I think he was just hungry himself having skipped dinner and breakfast this morning as the electricity company had cut his supply off because he forgot to pay his bill :-)! He told us his wife got really angry at him and went off to stay at his mum. He didn't seem too concerned (he was laughing) although she had charged him with getting the power back or else! Santo Amaro used to be a vibrant agricultural town (thanks to the sugar cane) but then the economy had a downturn and it all went sour. Tehse days things were picking up again but it was not the flourishing town that it once was. There were some oretty churches and a lovely square with a portuguese style administration building. Around the square the houses were colonial style and mainly in a pretty poor state. There was work going on on some of the bigger buildings and Andrea said that they were doing more and more work to the town so eventually it would look a lot prettier. The church on the main square itself was being worked on so it was closed. We managed to get a chap to let us in to take a look. A lot of the churches in Brazil have portugues decorative tiling, and this one was no different. Very pretty. From here we went to Cachoeira. This town is considered a very importantant heritage for Brazil. It was here that the declaration of independence was signed and the river that flows between Cachoeira and Sao Felix used to carry the slaves all the way inland to work on the sugar cane plantations. There are some beautiful churches here too and they are also being restored. This town also houses the sisters of the boa muerte (good death). Founded in the early 19th century as a Church-sponsored beneficent Sisterhood for female African slaves and former slaves, it became one of the oldest and most respected worship groups for Candomblé, the major African-based religion in Brazil. It attracts worshipers every year, especially at its August festival. We took a look at a house gifted to the sisters by Martin Luther King's wife. After trying some freshly squeezed sugar cane juice we crossed the river to Sao Felix. The other main plantations in this area are tobacco ones. Here we visited a cigar factory. On the way back to Salvador luckily I fell asleep. Marcelo drives like he's playing a video game and it does make you feel uneasy. Needless to say it was a very hot day so I couldn't wait to get under a shower. I popped out for dinner in the Pelourinho at around 8 and plan to catch up with Eastenders and get to sleep not too late.