Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our last two days in Salvador -- seeing Costa Rica v. Holland

July 4: Brazil moves on to the Semifinals

The Fourth of July was bright and sunny, but for the first time in many years we neither read the Declaration of Independence aloud (I forgot to bring a copy along), nor watched fireworks, nor did anything else to celebrate America’s independence day. 

We were finally able to visit Igreja do San Francisco.  The amount of gold leaf decorating the nave and apse of the church was impressive, but the overall effect was rather garish.


The tiled cloister was pleasant

and there were some lovely chests and other furniture in the sacristy

The Pelhourinho is a neighborhood of narrow cobblestoned streets and squares surrounded by buildings and devoid of greenery.  But behind the buildings lining the streets, there were several impressive courtyards, with their own plantings and with sweeping views of the surrounding city.  We stepped into one of them, the Praça do Artes, Cultura e Memoria

From there we proceeded to the bottom of the Largo do Pelhourinho

and back up a another steep street toward the Ingreja do Ordem Terceira do Carmo; on the left we passed a stairway, the Escadas do Carmo, that led up to a different church, Igreja do Santissimo Sacramento do Passo, which was closed.

We found the interior of the Igreja do Carmo more charming than the Igreja do São Francisco


As we continued further up the Rua do Carmo, the streets got quieter but no less charming

When we passed through the Largo do Pelhourinho on our way back to the hotel, a drum corps was practicing.       

We took a break from touring to do some souvenir shopping, determined to check out the Mercado Modelo in the Cidade Baixa, the Lower City.  Do get there, we walked through the Praça da Sé to the Elevator Lacerda, which travels more than 200 feet straight down – the current modern elevator was preceded by a steam version, dating to the 1860's; a rope-and-pulley version was inaugurated early in the 17th Century

I was disappointed by the Mercado Modelo – there were many souvenir shops, to be sure, but largely selling the same sorts of things, not artisans showing and selling their own wares, as was true at many shops in the Pelhourino.  There was, in the end, no greater variety than in the shops of the Pelhourinho, maybe in fact even less variety, although the prices were lower, or at least more subject to hard bargaining.  We stopped so that some of us could have lunch; although the views from the second-story restaurant in the Mercado were very nice,

the service was unbelievably slow, and by the time Nancy and I got back from shopping, many churches and museums were beginning to shut down in anticipation of the day’s quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia.

Sam and Nafisa has decided to head down to the FIFA Fan Zone on the beach in Barra to watch the game (a mistake – the lines to enter were very long by the time they arrived an hour before the game); the rest of us had decided to watch it on bar/restaurant TV’s in the Pelhourinho.

There were television screens up on walls outside restaurants all over the neighborhood

Even little stands had TV’s so that their proprietors could catch the game

I was secretly rooting for Colombia – the team and its fans had impressed me throughout the tournament, even while defeating Cote D’Ivoire (for which we were rooting) in the first game we saw in person.  Brazil was much the dominant team in the game, even if they achieved that superiority through thuggish play against the creative Colombian players.  And Brazil got its two goals from set plays which, it seemed to me at the time based on the live TV, should  never have been awarded against Colombia (reviewing the plays on my DVR recording after I got back to the States, I see that both calls were correct). 

The Brazilians in the Pelhourinho were delirious each time the Selecão scored, with fireworks going off on each goal.  We again experienced the oddity of different TV broadcasts being slightly different in the amount of delay of the cast,  We were watching at the Zulu Bar (where the Caldo Verde was good), but the TV at a bar up the street was slightly ahead of ours, so the cheers (and the groans when Colombia scored late to tighten things up) burst out a few seconds before the relevant play occurred on the screen in front of us.

We met up with Sam and Nafisa for dinner at the Casa de Tereza in Rio Vermelho.    Sam had an excellent shrimp risotto; Nafisa has a risotto that was perhaps somewhat undercooked; and Joe and I shared a combination dish of smoked meats, sausages and beans.  There was a pianist playing jazzed up Brazilian standards. 

On the way back to the Pelhourinho, the cab driver said that it was against the law for the five of us to travel together in a single cab, and that we would have to get out unless we agreed to pay a premium of ten extra Reais.  I was indignant —  we had been riding five to a cab since Sam aand Nafisa first arrived in Manaus – but I learned later that the cabbie was correct (although we continued to try to ride five to a cab and many drivers were willing to proceed under that arrangement).

Our Last Day and Last Live Game

The following day, July 5, was our last in Salvador.  We were finally able to get into the Jesuit Basilica on the Terreiro de Jesus.  The overwhelming splashiness of gold everywhere that we had found almost oppressive in Igreja San Francisco was missing, but there was some nice decorative work in the side altars; the  work here suggested that trained European artists rather that resentful slave artists had been employed for the detail work

We particularly enjoyed the decoration and furniture in the Sacristy:

 Looking out a window in the back of the basilica, we could see a second elevator connecting the upper and lower cities, the Plano Goncalves; this one appeared to be primarily for working class folk coming to and from work in the fancy part of town

Because there was a game in town that day, or because it was Saturday, all the other buildings and all the museums were closed.  We walked around doing some last minute shopping – I picked up several Brazilian CD’s at a shop on the Praça da Sé, and bought a sweet wooden statue of a Brazilian soccer player.

In the Praça da Sé, we saw this small trolley full of musicians and surrounded by women in their traditional dresses swaying with the music (and posing for tourist photos);

Here, they are waiting for a chance to perform

We had heard that the traditional Brazilian stew feijoada was peculiarly available on Saturdays, and this was our last Saturday in Brazil, so we went out of our way to find a restaurant that would serve this dish.  It turned out that there was such a place right around the corner from our hostel: 
Alaide de Feijao.  They were willing to  hold a table for us for lunch, and that is where we watched the first half of Argentina's quarterfinal game against Belgium.  It was a very small placed we felt compunction against holding a table after we were done eating, so we gave it up and watched the second half standing up in the street near an out-of-doors TV screen posted by a local bar.

Then we headed toward the stadium for our last in-person game.  Both on the way to the game, and in the stadium, the orange-clad Dutch fans were predominant, and it appeared that most Brazilians had come prepared to support the Dutch whose victory was predicted.

We, on the other hand, were supporting the underdogs, and the eventual losers, just as we had in every game attended live except Nigeria v. Bosnia in Cuiabá (not sure which team was favored there).  Root for the Ticos we might, but we were surely impressed by Arjen Robben.  I had seen him on TV many times, but especially in person he was really a beast — every time he touched the ball, Costa Rica was in danger, as he ran at defenders and wrought havoc among defenders.
The solidarity of the CONCACAF fans in attendance – Mexicans and Americans – in supporting the Ticos was impressive.  Our rivalries in World Cup qualifying and in the Gold Cup are intense, but everybody understood how important it was for our region that a CONCACAF team was in the quarterfinals and, as the game wore on, increasingly had a chance to move on to the semifinals.  Not for us the peevishness of the Brazilians who would ultimately cheer for Germany in the final lest their South American rival win another World Cup, or of the Argentines who did nothing but make fun of the Brazilians for their loss to Germany.  And as the game wore on, the Brazilians around us seemed to be turning toward the Costa Ricans. 

Finally, on to penalties, but not before Holland had made a last-minute substitution to bring on the gigantic Tim Krul.  We booed as he stepped forward off his line to harass each penalty taker as he stepped up to the spot – why did the referee not card him for this misconduct immediately?   In the end, the Dutch prevailed, and we hurried out to the stadium to get to dinner.

I had wanted to make reservations for one last nice dinner, at the Jardim des Delícias in the Pelhourinho, but with a crush expected after the game they were apparently expecting large crowds and felt no need to offer bookings.  True enough, we were almost the first to arrive for dinner but within a half hour all the tables were full.  We sat in a nice garden, and the food was mostly excellent – my dish was fish (badejo) with a ginger and passionfruit sauce; the seafood risotto was also excellent.  On the other hand, I liked the appetizer of filet mignon with three sauces a good deal less, because each of the three sauces was so salty that they were hard to distinguish except by the color.

There was a guitarist  and singer Francoise May  – the first time we had heard a woman soloist accompanying herself on guitar – plenty of women singing for an all-male band, to be sure.  I enjoyed her music so much that I bought a CD from her, despite having exceeded my music budget on Brazilian CD’s bought from Aurisom earlier in the day.  A nice ending to our time in Salvador.

1 comment:

  1. Food, music, soccer, sites. What a wonderful trip you had! Thanks for posting. Glad to have discovered your blog…. :)