A sweet, welcoming and noisy people, but one also endowed with a certain shyness, fruit of its Portuguese/African mix. In this city of so much talk, a constant sea-breeze blows where time has never acquired the speed of the large urban centres. The topography is privileged: nestled between the ocean and the hillside, the city splits into the Upper and Lower Cities, both facing seaward.
In this work, Jorge Amado sketches a guide to the streets and mysteries of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos - the city of Bahia, “black par excellence” -, founded in 1549. The author describes the poor and upper-class neighbourhoods, the fairs and markets, the city’s countless hills and streets, and the surrounding beaches of Itapuã, Amaralina, Pituba and Farol da Barra.
More than just a map of place, the book also chronicles the customs of the Bahian population, speaking on a range of features, such as the churches, the macumba rituals and the candomblé terreiros
(ritual sites), the typical foods, the cleaning of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim church, and the worship of Iemanjá, always highlighting the miscegenation of the people and the contradictions in their at once libertine and conservative spirit.
Contrary to the historical and interpretive effort to understand Salvador, Jorge Amado accentuates the mystery that imbues the city. Where does it come from? Nobody knows. Is it from the pounding drums of candomblé? The slender fishing boats in the quays? From the churches? The market? Baixa dos Sapateiros? The author’s advice is that we not even try to decipher the city’s secrets, as they pervade the body, soul and the very heart of the people of Bahia.