TAPSA Gallery by Stephanie Foden

Saudade da Bahia

Boasting the uncomfortable title of once being the largest slave trade port in the Americas, Salvador da Bahia has trailed a long, unparalleled history of suffering and overcoming. It is famous for its raw beauty as much as it is for its raw violence. The first time I told someone of my plans to go to Salvador, their advice was — don’t. But I did. Of course, I did. Instead of violence, there was a mystery: smells I couldn’t find the source of, habits I couldn’t wrap my head around, dialect even Brazilians from elsewhere had a hard time understanding. Bahia stands out like no other, even for a country as culturally unique as Brazil. An African treasure lost on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Good or bad, terrifying or wonderful, Bahia continues to defy logic and expectations.