Join The Mailing List
Never miss a post or video! No spam, promise.
Why Salvador? Salvador de Bahia, Brazil hit my 2018 travel list because I’m making a point to learn about black culture abroad and Salvador boasts the highest population of people with African background (outside of Africa). In fact, over 80% of the Bahians have African ancestry.
After 12 hours of traveling, Xica and I landed in Salvador and hit the ground running. When we got our hotel (rooftop view below), we attempted to piece together a loose itinerary for our 5-day trip but failed because the spotty Wi-Fi wouldn’t work.
Rather than spending any more time wrestling with the interwebs, we hopped in an Uber to drop us off at a samba spot that a friend recommended. We drove through narrow, winding streets of the city, but there was no sign of anything festive going on. We were ready to call it a night and head back to the hotel but the driver was determined not to let that happen, lol.
Suddenly we looked up to realize we’d stumbled upon a huge festival called Festa de São João (or Festa Junina) which takes place annually in Brazil celebrating St. John the Baptist (the small kid in the pics below). It’s a major holiday for the locals and part of the celebration involves them partying in the streets (think: small scale Carnival).
We’re in Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Salvador’s historic center with clubs, hotels, restaurants/eateries, museums and art. The energy was cool because people were out enjoying the festivities, having a grand old time reveling through the cobblestone streets.
After spending 15 minutes taking photos in front of a fountain (LOL) and basking in all of our black girl magic, Xica and I laid our eyes upon an illustrious group of black Americans. I can’t convey the level of excitement and warmth shared among us because, while Salvador is a majority black city in Brazil, black Americans are few and far between. Seeing people who look like you and speak your language in such a far away place was special. Here we are in the pic below, taken shortly after we met. Don’t we look happy? They took the best care of us during the rest of our trip.
All together, we made our way to a samba club with a live band playing and locals dancing (pics below). I learned that the samba is a more upbeat, peppy version of the heel-toe (I still can’t do either properly). Music brings people together, which was shown through all the love we received in the club. We felt right at home and were accepted into the mix while we danced and laughed and felt the Bahian samba vibe.
Suddenly we heard loud drumming and ran outside to find a samba band playing. We jumped right into the crowd and continued the party on the same streets where Michael Jackson filmed one of my favorite videos “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”
Partying, dancing, drumming, vibing — all in this video:
The first day was more than we could have hoped for, especially having winged the whole night and after being seconds away from returning to the hotel and potentially missing out on all this magic.