The taxi dropped us off at the civic center which sits on a hill overlooking the sea. We snapped some photos near the Elevador Lacerda, an elevator moving people from the old town’s precipice down to the docks and markets and the sea below.
The old town, Pelourinho, dates back to the 17th century. It’s colorful, colonial, loud, lonely, cunning, creative. These traits have helped it survive.
A large peach-colored building anchored a plaza—the first medical school in Brazil.
“Eu trabalho em escola de médico.”
I work for a medical school.
A Baiana woman in her traditional garments came up wanting me to photograph her. João stepped in and shooed her away. Later, he said, she pulled him aside and scolded him, showing her certificate and asking why he wouldn’t let her do her fucking job.
Steel drums bang.
Groups come together.
The cobblestones are rough, jagged, thrown together haphazardly, and yet they make up the street. Neither is the plaza square and tidy. It’s sloping, strangely angled, multi-dimensional. The cotton candy buildings go with it, figure it out, adapt.
Four-hundred years of atrocities, love, violence, samba, slavery, souvenirs, minutiae.
Their pastel hues betray their truth: they are sturdy, resilient, timeless.
So, too, is the Baiana. She is all of these things and more as she struts down the hill and then out of sight.