It comes as no surprise that the adventures of the Elephant and Macaw Banner begin in the city of Salvador. At the time of Gerard and Oludara’s travels, Salvador is the capital and most important city in Brazil.
The population of the city and surrounding bay included around 1500 inhabitants of Portuguese or mixed Portuguese-Tupinambá origin, and several thousand more Tupinambá in the neighboring regions, many of them Christian converts. The African slave population was small but increasing rapidly, and would grow to the thousands well before the end of the sixteenth century.
Early 17th century map of Salvador
Although there were earlier attempts to settle Salvador, its permanent occupation began in 1549, when King Dom João III of Portugal sent Tomé de Sousa and over five hundred men (and under ten women) to establish a city on the shores of Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay). Tomé was successful in his attempt, establishing what would remain the capital of Brazil for over two-hundred years.
Salvador in 1612
Salvador in 2007
Visiting Salvador today is like travelling through time. The old center of the city (the Pelourinho), the place where Gerard and Oludara first met, is filled not only with historical buildings and monuments, but also with the unique music, food, dance, and style that emerged from hundreds of years of blending African and Portuguese cultures.
A visit to Salvador is an experience that is not easily forgotten.
(Illustrations: salvadorantiga.blogspot.com Photographs: Christopher Kastensmidt)