Elevate Yourself

Today we went from sea level to the mountain top! We met at ACBEU with big lunches packed by our host moms, boarded a giant bus, and drove out of Salvador at 7 A.M.  As we passed thru Salvador we saw the contrast in life styles that coexist side by side in the Brazilian urban environment.  We finally left the outskirts of town and were in the countryside.  The landscape here is low and tropical, palm trees, bogs, lush shrubbery.  As we ascended the coastal plane the land began to dry.  There is evidence of cattle ranching.  I glanced out the window and saw three black vaqueiros riding horses in a field. 

We continued to enter the foothills.  The landscape changed to a dry ecology.  Cactus, small scrubs, no palm trees.  In the distance mountains began to appear, dramatic isolated rock mounds.  Half Done the right, Uluru on the left.  Then we drove higher into the hills, and once again we were in palm trees, groves of fruit and nut trees, tropical plants, and cacti mixed together.

Finally the bus turned off the main road onto the entrance of Pai Inacio.  This is a high rocky mesa, over 1000 meters above sea level.  We hiked up a steep trail, then met the birds, clouds, and wind on top of the world!




I found this decorative art in the refectory at the Third Carmelite Order in Pelourinho.  It seems to be two busty mermaids under a rock cave.  The rock cave is shaped like a looking glass.  This is interesting because the busty mermaid is a symbol for Yemanja, the mother goddess in Candomble, who lives in a cave under the sea, and loves looking glasses.  The five pointed star is a symbol for her daughter, Oshun.  The filigree framing the oval looks like a Moorish screen, the design feels Arabic.  It reminds me of artwork found in Islamic mosques in northern Africa.  This ceiling decoration appears to be an example of syncretism, the aggregation of religious beliefs or expressions, in a Catholic convent.  I wonder, was this done with the nuns understanding and consent, or as a covert action to subvert the dominant doctrine?