Angela Ngiam

Holidays in Bahia – Brazil

10 Dec 2011

U-Don and I spent a week in Bahia on holidays with my family.

The capital of Bahia is called Salvador and it is the city where my older sister lives.

There are many beautiful beaches over there and the hot weather was perfect for us to stay in the water the whole day.

Salvador tells the history of Brazil as a Portuguese colony. The city still carries the Portuguese architecture from year 1500 when Brazil was colonised.

The people are a mix of races that remind us of their African descendents who were brought from Africa to Brazil as slaves to work in the land.

It was the relationship between the Portuguese and the Africans that gave us our traditional dish called Feijoada, a pork stew with black beans. The Portuguese land owners used to eat the best parts of the pig, but they used to give to the slaves only the bad parts (ears, nose, feet, tail, etc). The slaves created this dish with black beans and the unwanted parts of the pig, which is now one of the signature dishes of the Brazilian gastronomy.

We visited the old city called Pelourinho. U-Don wanted to take a picture of the old buildings to show how they look like – still the same since when they were built.

To go to the old city we have to take the lift to go up the hill (it costs 15 cents per person). The view from the top is beautiful!

In the old city we visited one of the first Catholic churches built in Brazil by the Portuguese. It was very interesting to see how the Roman Catholic Church was introduced in Brazil because up till today Brazil recognizes Catholicism as the national religion.

The church has its finishing touches in gold (gold that the Portuguese found in Brazil).

We went to a Catholic museum inside the church. There we learnt about the history of the saints and the meaning of their symbolic images.

We walked though the old streets of Pelourinho where there are little houses that used to be the town centre where the Portuguese used to live (and today they are shops).

We took a picture with one of the bahian ladies dressed in a traditional African dress that they used to wear during colonial times.

We went to an art museum where we learnt more about how the African religion influenced the Brazilian faith as well. (Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese and Candomblé was introduced by the Africans).

The statues are human size, dressed up to represent each god. There is an explanation with each name, what they do, what weapons they use, etc.

Still today people worship these gods, they dress up like them, they order and offer sacrifices, and are followed by many people in Brazil. The mediums receive the spirits of the gods and people can consult them and order services from them. People order all sorts of services e.g. : to kill people, to receive power, to make people ill, to make people fall in love with someone, to destroy someone’s marriage, or whatever else people want. The payment to the gods is done in all sorts of ways: money, sacrifices, becoming a follower, becoming a medium, etc.

Salvador is the capital city of Bahia. Bahia is the number one state in Brazil for the number of people who do not attend any church or follow a religion. Even though Bahia is the state where the African religion started in Brazil there are 2 other states that have a higher number of followers of African cults and black magic.

We went to the markets where you can buy pretty much anything. Many items are related to black magic and have spiritual connotations so you must be careful to know what it means before buying something to bring home as a souvenir.

Besides the cultural immersion of the old city we also went to many beaches.

U-Don caught a baby crab on the beach – as usual.

And at night we ate a proper adult crab.

We loved spending time with my niece.

And with my mum and sisters.

We went to the project called Tamar that rescues and protect turtles. They have a very nice program to raise awareness and protection to the few turtles still left.

We learnt about how they breed, what they eat, who their predators are, how to protect them, and many other interesting facts.

 

At the end of the presentation they opened the nests in the sand to release the baby turtles in the ocean. It was quite emotional to see the little turtles fighting for their lives on the way to the water. We just hope that they will be able to survive because out of 1000 eggs only 2 will reach adult age.

 

We are now back from Salvador. U-Don is back home in Sydney and I will stay in Brazil until the end of January. I will be participating of many ministries with the local church.

 

Please pray for Salvador regarding the issues of many religions and the use of black magic, which has become so engrained into the Brazilian faith that people do not even recognize the devil’s trap.

Please pray:

  • that I will be able to make the most of my remaining time in Brazil,
  • that I will learn about their ministry and missions,
  • that I will be able to prepare myself for my new role with SIM (mobilization of missionaries in Sydney),
  • that I will be able to be transformed by God while I serve others around me.

 

Please pray that U-Don will settle back home and at work quickly. That he will know that God is with him all the time. That God will give us strength during the time that we will be away from each other.

We say our goodbyes for now but I will keep you guys updated with more postings.