Today was definitely one of the most perfect days I’ve had in a long time.
We left ACBEU at 8:30AM for Praia do Forte, a gorgeous district just outside of Salvador. (The drive was only about an hour-and-a-half long!). First, we visited Castelo Garcia D’Avila, a monument of colonial Brazil that has been partially restored. The castelo (castle) was absolutely beautiful. I love ruins, and this 16th century complex did not disappoint! I loved the D’Avila Ruine Castle; the wear on the stones under the sunlight was breathtaking. One interesting fact about the castle was that were two stone “seats” by every window. Our wonderful tour guide, Simone explained that the seats were built so people could sit and watch the ocean for activity. Men would watch for incoming danger, and young girls and unmarried women would sit by the window and watch the goings-on outside because they were not allowed to do much else. (Thank God for the feminist movement, the year 2015, and my independence!).
After seeing the castle, we went to have lunch at Casa da Nati… at least we thought we were! All fifteen students, Dr. Ramsey-White, Dr. Stauber, and Simone, piled onto the bus after touring the castelo, and our bus driver, Narciso started the engine… and we went nowhere. The bus revved and revved, but for almost an hour our wheels were stuck in the red, clayey sand around the monument entrance! It was wonderful to see other bus drivers and several men in the vicinity pitch in to help Narciso try to get the bus moving. They got shovels to dig around the tires, and eventually Narciso and another bus driver lugged over a large stone slab that the bus could drive over! Thankfully, we escaped before we consumed all of our snacks 🙂
The food at Casa da Nati was perfection. Hands-down, all-around amazing food. But what struck me about the restaurant was not the comida, but the artwork. All around the restaurant were abstract paintings of Bahian women. These lively pictures celebrated the female form in a way that made my heart smile. While admiring the decorations, I noticed a regal older woman sitting at a table who looked like a woman in a photograph on one of the walls. I asked Simone if that was the restaurant owner and she said yes! I was so impressed by the beauty and ambiance of the restaurant that I asked Simone if she would introduce me to her. Simone very kindly did so, and I complimented her restaurant as best I could in Portuguese, and I asked her if she would take a picture with me. (Hey, why not?).
After lunch, we went to the TAMAR Project, a project for the preservation of marine turtles. The tartarugas were so cute (fofa)! In addition to turtles, we saw various fish, and a sting ray! I pet the sting ray… and a) nothing happened because it’s barbed, poisonous stinger had been removed, and b) its skin felt like slimy, hard leather.
And now, the ultimate part of my day: the praia (beach). The beach was so beautiful! The fattest, fluffiest clouds hung low, like cotton balls almost close enough to reach. The sky was perfectly blue, and the water was so clear. The sand was clean and the beach was not crowded. It was literally the perfect afternoon. I spent about an hour with my friend, Sheree searching for shells and cool-looking rocks. Then, I waded out into the water, where I spotted many types of crabs, fish, and the cutest, fattest snail I have ever seen! My initial plan was to do some yoga on the beach, but the wildlife was way too intriguing for me to spend my time in Downward-Facing Dog or Svasana.
I’m a Cancer, which is a “water” sign, and true-to-form I am most at peace around water. Today was a day I will never forget, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to wade in the waters of Praia do Forte.