Ilheus, Bahia, and a few passing remarks on Salvador

2024-04-07 @Travel

Ilheus, Bahia, some major leagues south of Salvador, presents two noteworthy aspects. One, being the birthplace of Jorge Amado. Like Salvador where the writer spent most of his life, that means dedicatory artifacts galore.

We find the golden sculpture of Jorge on a bench close to the impressive, imposing Catedral São Sabastião. Hawaiian shirt, long pants and slippers is the quintessential Amado. Somewhere nearby is the Dona Flor Cafe. Casa de Cultura de Jorge Amado is steps away, a pleasing construction in it’s own right. In front is another Amado sculpture in this time more formal attire, standing, promoting the cultural center/museum.

I didn’t enter, having already spent significant time in two similar establishments in Salvador (one in Pelourinho, one in Rio Vermelho - visits I not only don’t regret but encourage for the heaps of literary, political, culinary, macumba, etc, product on manifest within.) There in Salvador you’ll likewise find no shortage of sculptures.

The regional airport, likewise named after Jorge Amado, brings me to the second noteworthy aspect. The airport sprawls very much amidst the city essence: Rio Cachoeira to the west, the Atlantic Ocean and the beach conglomerate immediately to the east (just across the roadway), Zona Sul to the south, the center to the north just beyond the Ponte (bridge) Jorge Amado right over there.

And yet the vast grassy plain surrounded by a runway and a meagre fence lies there almost inconspicuously. Rarely have I had the means to watch an aircraft take off this close outside the industrial confines of major airports, in such charming rusticity.

Slightly unrelated, but adjacent to the Salvador airport (I’m hopping back and forth, bear with me) - the airport situated in the distant Itapuã region of the city - is a massive spread of sand dunes, alas, barricaded by a threatening barb wire fence, being a military zone and inaccessible to civilians if not by covert maneuvers. But a few more hundred meters in the other direction and you’ll find one of the inexhaustible beaches.

This entire North-Eastern Brazilian Atlantic coast is really one beach after another. There is no end to it. Though Salvador, situated at the tip of an isthmus, carries the remarkable feature of facilitating a choice of three bearings: West, South, and East (the Atlantic Ocean), whichever way you prefer to catch your tan.

Such is the magnificent region of Bahia, should you ever find your way here without haste or pretense. All the better if you appreciate all manner of things Afro-Brazilian, both the bright and the sinister.

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