Sunday, April 27, 2008

forró, baianos, surfing

The typical Baiano life style is mostly characterized by slogans such as "work is sacred, so admire it from afar" and "never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow". With so much sun and heat one simply cannot be too energetic or rushed. We thus spent a slow day at the beach at a site where a small river runs into the ocean, lending the perfect combination of warm ocean surf along with warm fresh water to rinse off the salt.


Wanting to soak up some more Bahia culture we attempted to find out about samba or other music shows during the car ride back from the beach. We had quite a lot of time to do this as the traffic entering Salvador had ground to a complete standstill. We spent two hours covering about half a km. Nobody seemed too bothered by it. Meanwhile our phone calls to various information phone lines were wholly unsuccessful as we couldn't get anything more helpful than "dunno" out of the ones that took the trouble to answer the phone. In summary, everything was moving very slowly or not working at all. I decided that this, in itself, was an excellent immersion in the Baiano spirit.

Later that evening we did actually make it to a Forró party. Forró (pronounced "foh-HOH" in Portuguese) is a genre of music related to Samba. The accompanying dance is related to Samba too; the main difference being the distance between the dance partners, which is at most zero in forró. Being in Bahia one ought not to miss out on the fun of a forró party. Personally I still prefer the non-stop samba drums at Maracanã, but being packed together with hundreds of Brazilians doing their forró dancing is quite the experience. Especially in this heat!

Live music and dancing on stage at the forró party.

Having a few hours to spend before our flight out of Salvador I figured that it would be inexcusable for a Californian in Bahia to miss out on what must surely be the second most popular activity in both places: surfing. I've never done any surfing in my life -- which is all the more reason to try it. Unfortunately we wasted an hour and a half driving around trying to find a place that (1) had surf boards, (2) rented -- not sold -- them, and (3) was not closed for no apparent reason. Sounds easy enough, what with surfing being so wildly popular here... but then again, this is Bahia.

Eventually I did track down a tiny beach hut that had a few boards for rent. The owner was on holiday, but his friend was looking after the hut while also being a waiter at the bar next to it. He let me rent a long board (an excellent choice to saddle a first time beginner with), gave me a 15 second lesson in the basic theory of surfing, and then let me go at it by myself. Oh well, how difficult can it possibly be? In between waitering he ran into the water a few times to give me the same tip every time: take it easy, more flash which translated to go slower and faster.

Me very clearly riding some surf.

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