Since I was staying with one of my half-Brazilian friends in Salvador, who goes there every year to visit family and has seen all the sights a million times, we decided to go to Cachoeira, a tiny historic town nearby where she had never been.
We took the bus out of the city, into the countryside, one of my favorite things to do any time I travel. I sat glued to the window, watching farmland roll by.
When we got to the rodoviaria, I thought we might have gotten off at the wrong stop. It seemed there wasn't really anything there. So I went for my dog-eared Lonely Planet to see what there was to see. The online Lonely Planet reports the following:
Since it was the only colonial town I visited in Bahia (other than Salvador), with a really interesting and somewhat disturbing history, I was eager to explore.
Read the full tale with photos after the jump.
The dusty streets are indeed lined with charming old houses and buildings, but the old city is in fact rather small. We went to the Museu da Boa Morte, which has an absolutely fascinating history but a nearly barren museum. The society was founded by African women during the times of slavery, and they would buy freedom for elderly slaves and ensure burials for the dead. They also spread the word about slave uprisings, and practiced Candomble, an Afro-Brazilian religion. Today, Cachoeira is famous for Candomble rituals, but we were told they were only at night, so we didn't get to see anything [so if you decide to go, find out when the events are and plan ahead]. The museum was a bit of a downer, though there were a few women dressed in ye-olde Bahian dress.
We went to a few other museums, and explored the famous wood carving studios, where I bought several figas (good luck charms carved in the shape of a fist) as gifts. We ate lunch at a little hole in the wall with simple but good food. There was a lone poster on the wall from the Ministry of Culture, with a quote from Gilberto Gil (the former Cultural Minister) that read: "O povo sabe o que quer, mas o povo também quer o que não sabe." [The people know what they want, but the people also want what they don't know about."] I made a mental note and never forgot it.
Eventually, we ventured over the bridge to Sao Felix, where the cigar factories are, since the twin towns are known for having the best tobacco in Brazil. We visited one of the factories, where you could watch the women rolling the cigars.
It was a fun little excursion, but let's be real, Lonely Planet. Three hours is more than enough. Next time, I'm going to Ilheus.