Traveling rough in Bahia, Brazil
After that unexpected beginning, we wondered what was going to happen next. Anyway, there were two months of adventure ahead, it was a hot, sunny morning, and the noise of the cars speeding along the BR-101 motorway heading towards Bahia was setting the tone of that day. Meanwhile, we were going from truck to truck asking for a hitch to our next destination, Porto Seguro.
Our first ride was in the rear of a truck carrying dried beef. We climbed up and joined a group of workers sitting on thick plastic mats covering the cargo. They looked like the Latin American peasants one would expect to see in a film about revolution. They were a mixture of black, native and white, wore torn clothes, straw hats, caps and had prehistoric Havaianas flip-flops dangling from their feet. They were drunk and having a ball with the wind from the highway blowing all over them.
Riding unprotected on top of a van was dangerous and illegal. Suddenly the better dressed man sitting inside with the driver opened his door, leaned out and shouted, “Police!” We all had to duck under the greasy plastic for 10 minutes where we stayed skidding on the rough but slippery meat until he shouted that we could come out again.
That group could not understand what two university students from the South were doing up on that stinky plastic with them, but they liked it. One of them passed their bottle of cachaça and taught us how to drink from its neck correctly, after that rough booze had gone around, others started to try to teach us how they pronounced things in the region. Soon we were drunk and talking rubbish too. After a couple of hours shaking from the motorway’s bumps on the truck's unprotected back, it took a turn onto a dirt track and stopped at a bar in the middle of nowhere. Everyone jumped off and inside that rustic hut our new friends made a point in treating us to more cachaça and to a local delicacy: a dark and strong, disk-shaped, barbecued organ of some undefined animal. The group wanted to see if we had the balls to eat it and our pride made sure that we did: we were too drunk anyway to be disgusted but the taste was sobering.
They and the better dressed guy, who had warned us about the police and who seemed like someone in an administrative position, stayed on waiting for a bus to take them home while we got back on the truck. This time we went with the driver in the front and we continued until he dropped us off in Eunápolis. Now we were only an hour and a half by local transport from Porto Seguro. We arrived there exhausted but with the sensation that we had accomplished our first mission. It was easy to find a camp site by the beach where we washed off the cachaça and the meat stench and got some much-needed sleep.
We spent the next day at the beach diving into the warm light blue water and feeling the breeze of the south of Bahia. We discovered its lively yet unusual night life: the locals decorated their backyards with colored lights, added tables and chairs, filled their fridges with beer, turned their stereos up to the maximum and transformed their houses into lambada clubs. The look was very much like the one of a school party, but when one invited one of the local girls to dance, the way they moved and rubbed themselves against your leg was far from innocent school play. People from big cities who had moved to Porto Seguro were ahead in the lambateria business and had set up more elaborate places. But even there, it would not be surprising to feel a chicken peck at your feet while you were dancing. Anyhow, from these humble beginnings, lambada clubs would soon spread across the country and their success would reverberate as far as Europe.
Extract from ‘Lost Samba’ by Richard Klein – visit his blog at http://goo.gl/1OO5KO to experience ‘ Lost Sambista - A Brazil never seen’