Map of the Bahia de Todos os Santos, in the nautical museum at the Farol da Barra
One might note the Ilha do Medo, Fear Island, to the north of the island of Itaparica. Here's what Robert Southey wrote in his history of Brazil, published in 1810: "These last conquerors were masters of the country when the Portugueze arrived; but they had quarrelled among themselves. Those who dwelt between the river San Francisco and the Rio Real, or Royal River, were at mortal enmity with those nearer the bay, and the inhabitants of one side the bay, with those on the other; they carried on hostilities both by land and water, and all parties devoured their prisoners. A fresh feud broke out among those who dwelt on the eastern side; the cause was that which in barbarous, and heroic, or semi-barbarous ages, has furnished so much matter for history and song. The daughter of a Chief had been carried off against her father's consent; the ravisher refused to restore her; the father, not being powerful enough to compel him, retired with all his clan to the Island of Itaparica; the hordes upon the river Paraguazu coalesced with the seceders, and a deadly war began between the two parties. The Ilha do Medo, or Island of Fear, derives its name from the frequent ambushes and conflicts of which it was then made the scene."
Salvador sits on a vast bay -- a Baía de Todos os Santos (the Bay of All Saints), which at 1,100 square kilometers, 70 kilometers from north to south, and 60 kilometers from east to west (at its widest point) is the largest in Brazil. A Baía de Todos os Santos is fed by the Paraguaçu river (among numerous smaller sources), which opens into the smaller bay of Iguape, which in turn gives onto the principal bay. The largest town along the Paraguaçu is Cachoeira.
What appears to be the other side of the bay as you look out over the water from Salvador, is actually the ilha (island) of Itaparica (ee-tah-pah-REE-kah). Itaparica is the largest of the bay's 56 islands, and there are two ways of getting there: the ferryboat and the pequena lancha, or small boat (actually, if one is approaching the island from the far side of the bay, there is a short bridge). The pequena lancha has my vote, unless you're taking a car across.
The pequena lancha leaves from the Terminal Marítimo -- a blue-and-white building behind the Mercado Modelo -- and takes you right across to Mar Grande (a forty minute or so trip). It's not a small boat like, say, a rowboat (something I feel is necessary to point out given that pequena lancha = small boat), but it's small enough that the ride across the bay feels like an adventure in itself for more landlocked people...sun, sea, and air. Mar Grande (Big Sea) is a small town with a nice enough beach and some great barracas. The beach scene is especially hot (people-wise) during the summer months of January and February.
Disembarking at Mar Grande
Ponta de Areia (Sandy Point) is a huge, wide beach close to the northern tip of the island, kind of like the Daytona of Itaparica (in terms of the beach itself anyway). It's a good place to spend a day, again and more particularly, during Brazilian summer. Lots of barracas.
Transportation from place to place on the island is available in the form of kombis (a word familiar to German-speakers), usually Volkswagen vans which tend to congregrate at disembarkation points and which will drop one off anywhere along their routes. Likewise they will pick up anyone flagging them down at any point along those routes. There are also city-type buses running from Bom Despacho, the island's landing point for the big ferry-boat.
Ilha dos Frades
The Ilha dos Frades, Isle of the Monks, received its denotation for two monks who were killed there by the Tupinambás, it is said.
The island is home to three villages, Ponta de Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, located just above a stunning beach frequented by tourist embarkations; Costa de Fora; and the principal, Paramana, with just under a thousand souls.
Approaching by schooner
The beach at Guadalupe from on high
The beach at Guadalupe
A Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe
The church dates from the 16th century; this is what it looked like before repairs.
Ilha de Maré
Of the smaller islands (meaning not Itaparica), one of the most popular as a destination via schooner or ferry boat is the Ilha de Maré (Tide Island), located in the northern area of the bay. Boats generally pull up to the praia (beach) of Itamoabo, and because there is no pier one reaches the beach by getting off the boat into waist-deep water and wading up to dry ground. Itamoabo is nice, though not particularly beautiful in and of itself, and it is lined by the usual Bahian assortment of slap-dash barracas and bars serving beer, carangueijo (crabs), and fish.
Disembarking at the Ilha (Island) of Maré
Some three hundred meters or so along the island's coast to the left (as one faces out to the water) is a truly lovely little beach called Praia das Neves (Beach of the Snows, not much frequented except during high Brazilian summer) which has several houses set up as beachbars, very sweet and organized.
Maré is home to a small population of fishermen. Their communities are not visible from either of the two beaches described above, and are only reachable by boat or walking (not that I'm suggesting an excursion unless one happens to be curious). From Itamoabo a small sidewalk wends its way up a hill, then back down to the community of Santana where, on the weekends, the inhabitants will be doing what the visitors on Itamoabo are doing -- sitting in simple bars drinking beer and talking.
Itamoabo; the walk in the middle leads to back the village of Santana
The fishing village of Santana on the Ilha de Maré
The next community along -- Praia Grande (Big Beach) -- is only reachable by following the water's edge (or wading if the tide is high). This is perhaps why Praia Grande started its life as a quilombo. Capoeira angola master Pedro Moraes is from here.
Mestre Moraes, illustrious son of Praia Grande (in Cana Brava Records)
From Praia Grande on one may (or could rather, I'm not recommending this) continue to follow the island's shoreline and circumnavigate; or there is a "shortcut" (a trek along a narrow twisting trail with some very muddy spots, also not recommended!) up through Atlantic rainforest, over the deserted center of the island, and down to the peaceful (and poor) little community of Botelho on the island's far side.
Botelho sits directly across from the Port of Aratú (an industrial boil on what would otherwise be a beautiful landscape) and is home to Maré's only pier. On weekends when the weather is nice Botelho's small, open-air bar is packed with off-islanders who've arrived by speedboat.
Continuing along the coast takes one past the island's high-walled brothel and on to the community of Neves, and thence back to Itamoabo.
The Ilha do Paty & As Paparutas
As Paparutas dancing to Bahian samba (samba-de-roda) with dishes typical to the region
The Ilha do Paty was once the location of a quilombo (village or collection of villages founded by runaway slaves from the region's numerous sugarcane plantations), and the quilombo continues there to this day (although, like Brazil's other quilombos, it is no longer known as such, the currently used term being remanescente do quilombo ("remains of a quilombo"). In English that sounds dead, but these places are very much alive. There is no regular boat service to the island, one of two principal points of embarkation being the fishing village of Santo Estevão, below.
The Ilha do Paty, with the village at the bottom (thanks Google!)
Casa Grande (the Big House) on the Island of Cajaíba; taken from São Francisco do Conde
The expansive residence in the paradisical setting above was the abode of the tyrannical Barão de Cajaiba (Baron of Cajaíba), infamous for his cruelty to his slaves.
Cajaíba from the air, with São Francisco do Conde in the upper right-hand corner.
Cajaíba fits into the northernmost point of the bay like a piece into a puzzle.
Lots more coming as I transfer the "old" site to the new system...
Turn your world on to this one...