The marvels of Salvador and the perils of Pelourinho

2023-12-22 @Travel

Yet once more in Pelourinho, which we generally exert no small effort to evade like Milton’s line of verse which presented a risk of near verbatim sabotage. At the very moment, we scribble this epigram on a napkin over a wobbly table at a half-abandoned alley, live music manifest, yet the sole, passionless and barely audible guitar part hopelessly overburdened by the gregarious polyphony of hot-blooded marching rhythms just out of sight.

As for me, I’m profusely averse to the energy of Salvador’s historical center. Pelourinho is a mangler of otherwise sound psyches. Pelourinho is a destroyer of men.

A beautiful place, full of gorgeous ruin. Probably erected over slave ashes. But I feel a wicked omnipresence as much during the day as during the violet hour. You know the type you can’t well define or articulate? You caught the cheap allusion. Like the Matrix.

The tourism trade is booming here in Salvador. That said, Pelourinho comprises but maybe two percent of the urban real estate, yet victimizes 90% of that tourism; the others scatter along a handful of cozy beaches the area of my bathroom, the Barra bourgeois neighborhood down south and select coastal cavities and surrounding islets. The overwhelming majority of central Salvador hardly receives the honor of this demographic.

As you can see, Salvador as a whole makes for one of my favourite spots of Brazil. The Afro-Brazilian culture manifests strong roots and breeds singular cultural phenomena.

But in Pelourinho, we, that is, I, find one of the savagest micro-regions of anywhere travelled around the country.

It’s not just the tourism, for which my prejudice spans but the stem of a hyacinth. It’s the opportunism, aggressiveness, assault, the overabundant gendarme (which neither puts one at ease, nor covers all the murky, shadowy confines); the prices of commodities, elevated. And all the factors blend in a puissant concoction, far intenser than of any comparable historic region of major Brazilian capitals, UNESCO and otherwise. Consider:

Or take even the mid to smaller size towns of reputable tourist dynamic:

With no exception, however strong of a tourism across this entire lot, whatever its origin, I find none of the funny business thriving in Pelourinho.

But we nonetheless return, or cross select parts for means of thoroughfare or cultural disport. And not without dread.

Cross your fingers, dear reader.

Questions, comments? Connect.