Brazil / Canada / Journey / Memoir / Nature

From Vancouver’s Winter land to the Summer of Salvador.

A beautiful morning when the green view from our window had changed into a white-magical-ice landscape, a walk to our favourite brunch place in Vancouver (The Naam at Kitsilano, if you’re around!), packing over 15 boxes of books and winter clothes, studying for final exams on top of those boxes, carrying our furniture out to the streets (back where they had come from!), taking down our paintings from the walls of the white apartment (that had become completely colourful for the past 4 months), saying goodbye to dear friends while toasting on little plastic containers (due to the lack of glasses in our home), driving to the airport on a completely packed car…  *pause to breathe*. It all feels so far away now. Although it feels like a lifetime ago, these are glimpses of what was happening this past December when we were getting ready to leave Vancouver for an unlimited time.


One of our last hikes around Vancouver, our previous home.

Once on the plane to Brazil, we could finally breathe after at least two weeks of intense packing, emotional confusions (the stress of goodbyes plus the excitement of the new journey), stressing with the last exams at UBC (ever!), starting an application for a Masters program, packing some more, going through the painful bureaucracy of cancelling accounts and contracts… When we finally stopped, the contrast between the hectic last days with the not-doing-anything activity of sitting on the plane for over 14 hours was like a high-pitched “peeeeeeee..” in our ears after a long time of loud music followed by a sharp silence. And it was great. But just until one of our flights was late, making us miss our connection from São Paulo to Salvador (which would be our final stop). This led to a 4 days delayed arrival: We spent that night in Rio de Janeiro, went to Minas Gerais on the next late afternoon, spent the night there, and finally managed to fly to Salvador the following morning (luckily (?) we took the last seats available within the next 10 days in a flight to Salvador). All of this while carrying a ridiculous amount of heavy luggage, completely jet-lagged, and having to explain the confusion in detail every time we had to try to check-in to a new flight in order to justify our international flight sized baggages. Just to add a pinch of stress, we had my best friend’s wedding to attend to in just a few days and I simply couldn’t afford to arrive to Salvador any later than that and risk missing her special day.But all in all, looking back, it was a great arrival: we got to try different foods from 3

But all in all, looking back, it was a great arrival (even though it took a 4 days-long airplane trip): we got to try different foods from 3 Brazilian states (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais), see 4 airports and eat LOTS of airport pão-de-queijo (amazing Brazilian baked cheese bread) before we finally arrived in the arms of my more-than-anxious parents and friends waiting for us in Salvador.

In Morro de São Paulo

looking happy and tanned after a few weeks in Bahia

Once in Salvador, it was all about relaxing, enjoying the beach, eating feijoada, acarajé, caruru, moqueca de camarão, my dad’s barbecue, fresh coconut water, mango, all kinds of tropical fruits, drinking looots of freezing cold beer and caipirinhas on the sun… (we will just have to write specifics on the food later). Coming to Salvador in the peak of Summer was great because we managed to see some really interesting (and fun!) popular religious rituals (which in Salvador’s dialect means a great chance to throw a mini-carnaval that displays a beautiful example of the religious syncretism and cultural diversity of its people). My favourites are the Lavagem do Bonfim (honoring the Lord of Bonfim, or the orixá Oxalá, the protector of the city), and the famous Lavagem de Yemanjá (honoring the Goddess of the Ocean, the protector Lady of Salvador and one of the most famous Orixás).

Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia

In front of the Church of Bonfim, a very syncretic place in Salvador where catholicism and afro-Brazilian religions celebrate festivals together

We had the unique and amazing chance to participate in an Umbanda gathering (the anthropologists in us were over the roof with excitement), where we got to hang out with the mediums and dance and sing with them in a beautiful 4-hours long ceremony. We attended 2 beautiful weddings, danced with Olodum on the stage, saw a live Timbalada concert at the Rythm Museum of old Salvador, watched the folkloric Bahian Ballet in Pelourinho (and were mesmerized by the capoeira performance), visited the island of Morro de São Paulo and spent new years in Praia do Forte, close to the sea turtles, the warm ocean waters and the clear night sky. We also had a good sum of completely lazy days (coming from Vancouver’s negative temperature we just felt too warm to move) where we watched the whole 5 seasons of Breaking Bad with my mum (always pausing for fun comments and a refreshment of beers, of course), danced and singed in the garden with my dad’s Brazilian music band and… had some more beers. Within the two months we spent in Bahia, we were on about 6 different boat trips! And after all of the above-mentioned, there was still time to surf, dance a great amount of Samba and afro-beats, and walk around the condominium looking for different kinds of birds and little monkeys.

Oxum and Yemanjá, orixás goddesses

Orixás: deities worshipped in Salvador by believers of candomblé and umbanda (afro-Brazilian religions widely spread in Bahia)

As for now, we said ‘see you later’ to Salvador (with a tight but happy heart of appreciation), and spent one week (so far) in Rio de Janeiro, enjoying a more ‘bossa-nova kind of atmosphere’ (although the hectic rhythms of carnival are right around the corner!). It’s good to be back in Brazil.

In Praia do Forte

having fun in Praia do Forte, Bahia

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