Brazil – Spirit of Brazil
Olinda is a beautiful historic town, one of the oldest in Brazil, founded 1535 in the state of Pernambuco. The large metropolitan capitol city of Recife looms just south, contrasting modern high rises at the horizon with the quaint colorful buildings and handsome churches of historic Olinda.
Today let’s stroll up and down the sometimes steeply inclined cobblestone streets of Olinda, taking in the beauty of the town as well as some of its history; for example how slavery has left its mark quite literally on the cobblestones…
Olinda’s great historical trauma was the looting and burning it suffered under the Dutch in the 17th century. Guides will repeatedly make reference to that short-lived time of occupation. For example, the religious statue to the right was hollowed out so that the Portuguese could smuggle gold unnoticed past the Dutch invaders.
When later in our tour I would get glimpses of what 400 years of slavery had wrought, it put the Portuguese trauma of Olinda’s handful of years under Dutch occupation in some perspective.
On the highest point of Olinda stands the Church of Grace, and at the left corner of the photo sits “the Problem of Olinda”, an unsightly modernistic viewing platform. I’m sure it provides pretty views of Olinda for tourists (we didn’t bother), but it does mar the view from every other vantage perspective that includes its presence:
Another view of the Church of Grace:
Church of Carmo, with the multicolored Atlantic ocean behind it (beautiful waters, but dangerous: this area suffers from one of the highest incidents of shark attacks in the world):
Church of St. Benedict:
A train for tourists:
As we stroll past the quaint colorful houses of Olinda, let’s listen to my favorite Brazilian song:
A Luz de Tieta – Caetano Veloso
This song was written for the movie 1996 “Tieta do Agreste”, starring Sonia Braga, based on Jorge Amado’s popular novel “Tieta”. Ed and I got a sense of how popular this song is in Brazil when we heard it performed during an open air concert in Salvador; everybody in the large crowd joyously sang along to the catchy chorus:
Eta, eta, eta
É a lua, é o sol é a luz de Tieta
And if you would like to sing the chorus in English, it translates (and fits the melody) thusly:
Eta, eta, eta
It’s the moon, it’s the sun, it’s the light of Tieta
(Although I prefer to sing the less directly translated but more pleasing:
“See the moon, see the sun, see the sun of Tieta, eta, eta”)
This hill up to Igresia da Misericordia (Church of Mercy) is ascended by the faithful on their bare knees every May 1st.
Have mercy indeed.