We had a 4-day sail ahead of us when we left Maragogi to head for Salvador. The weather had picked up since we arrived, and we were a bit worried when we came to the shallow part of the reef. But everything was fine, and soon we were out in the deeper water again. The wind wasn’t cooperating, and we were sailing close hauled for the first couple of days. This meant that the sailing was rather unpleasant, and that Runa got seasick again, unfortunately. Once again, we were happy to have prepared food for the first few days. And once the prepared food was eaten, the wind had turned, and we were being pushed pleasantly southwards, making life onboard much easier. Only problem was that eventually, the wind disappeared completely, and at the same time our trusty old autopilot gave up life. Normally we use an Aries wind vane, which uses no electricity, but as it needs wind to work, we have an electric autopilot for the days without wind. Loosing the autopilot meant that we could either turn on the engine and take turns steering, or we could drift along with the current and accept that we were kinda going in the right direction, albeit very slowly. I started the engine in the morning, but soon realized that spending a day in the sun would not be pleasant at all. So we turned off the engine, and accepted that we would be spending an extra night at sea. Not a problem. Especially not since we caught a fish and had delicious lunch.
Very early in the morning, Esben started the engine, so that I could take over at four and would arrive at the first buoy at the entrance to Salvador at five in the morning. This way, we would not have to enter this relatively busy channel in the dark. The plan worked out well, and at seven in the morning, we moored in Salvador’s Terminal Nautico Marina, just below the famous elevator leading to the historic center of the city.
We wasted no time, and that same day we took the trip up the elevator and took our first walk in the historic center, Pelourinho, built by the Portuguese settlers and now UNESCO world heritage. The Pelhourinho was founded in 1549, and is one of the oldest cities in the new world (remember, that Columbus crossed the Atlantic the first time in 1492). Back then, Salvador was the main city in Brazil, and it was also where the slaves arrived from Africa and were sold to work in the plantations. Even today, the northern part of Brazil has a larger percentage of black people than what is the case further south. The Pelhourinho is full of old and beautiful buildings, especially churches and monasteries. We went to see the Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos church, which was built by and for the slaves and the free black people. The work took more than 100 years, as the had to do it in their free time. We were lucky to arrive in the end of a sermon, and watched as the priests ceremoniously took out a figure and walked it down the street with all the churchgoers following, and firing fireworks as they went. In the end it became a bit much noise for the kids, and we fled towards the next convent.
The São Francisco Church and Convent is famous for the over-the-top gold decorations of the church. We found it a bit difficult to explain to the kids how an order of monks, who are supposed to live a humble life with only few belongings, could justify such a church. And things didn’t get any better when we ventured into the monastery, which is now a museum, and saw how they physically punished themselves and each other. Just because. Our take on the religious teachings of the day was to talk about how the church has been and is misusing its power for personal gain. I guess religious people would have gotten a different lesson out of the visit…
Salvador also has a maritime museum, which we heard good things about. It turned out to be really small, located in an old light house, which is still in use, and which we passed on our sail in to the marina. The museum tells the story of Portuguese sea farers and how they navigated. Also we got to go up in the light house and enjoy the view of the bay.
We had some good days in Salvador, but were slowly missing life at anchor, so we got ourselves ready for the short trip to Itaparica, one of the most famous anchorages in Brazil.