23 and 24 April
Sao Luis is the only Brazilian city that was not founded by the Portuguese.... but by the French!
It was founded in 1612 by Daniel de la Touche who gave it the name "St. Louis" in honor of King Louis XIII, king of the time. The French were allied to the Indians to repel the Portuguese, but three years after its foundation, the town was ceded to the Portuguese ... yes, you should not declare victory too soon, we have not been very good on this one, in the end!
After a brief stint in Dutch hands in 1640 the Portuguese decided to establish the independent state of Maranha that could better defend themselves against these lusts. The state developed through the sugar, cotton and tobacco industry. Up to the mid-nineteenth century, the city experienced such an expansion that it became the third largest city after Salvador and Rio ... Then, sales of cotton dropped significantly and it has now about 1 million people ... small for Brazil (less than Curitiba !) and it will not even host a match for the World Soccer Cup in 2014.
From a cultural point of view, the historical center is classified as a World Heritage of Humanity with many more or less well preserved historic buildings, azuleros facades and cobblestone streets.
It is also supposed to be the city the most influenced by Caribbean culture and the Brazilian capital of reggae ... We passed several rasta but didn’t hear any reggae!
From our point of view, we found the city more pleasant than Salvador, probably in part, because smaller but also because of a greatly less "aggressive" feeling in the streets.
However, the rubbish littering many gutters and street corners released regularly, a foul odor.
The city being smaller and less oriented towards tourism, we were less harassed by street vendors and beggars. Brazilians in Sao Luis give the impression to live their lives without worrying so much about us, which makes one feel more comfortable and makes the city more "human" ...
Fish market-kingdom of the cats
Initially, we were only supposed to go through this town (who does not deserve more than a one or two day visit!) But a week of WWOOFing (working on an organic farm) being overboard, and the Sao Luis Belem ticket already purchased (at an unbeatable price (50 euros for two ...), therefore not editable) we ended up spending a total of seven days there...
A few explanations about Wwoofing:
The WWOOFing is a network of organic farm where you can come and work a few days in exchange for lodging and board.
We thought that working on an organic farm somewhere in Brazil would allowed us to vary our travel a little, and bio in Brazil sounded like an interesting and fun experience. To top it, thanks to housing on the farm, it was the opportunity to meet the locals...
On the four applications, we made, one(a lady) quickly agreed and the plus, was that she was in Lençois (near the park of Chapada Diamantina) at the same time as us! Back from our 3 days trek, we called and fixed an appointment to talk about the work and to see when we could pick us up ... so far so good! We're really excited and were amazed that everything was going so (surprisingly) smoothly!
When we arrived at the café, she was with a friend, an Italian, with whom she was speaking ... She tells us that there has been no rain for two months so there is no farm work to do (??? but why did she make us come then???), then she brought another friend in, a French one, with whom she speaks, on, and on.... between two topics of discussion with her friend, she mentions that her son works in an association on music…. then she says that we look like artists .... (when as a matter of fact, we are starving and frustrated to hear her speaking to her friend of stuff that we don’t understand at all) .... Finally, the friend leaves and we manage to cram in that building a wall at her place or making music with her son does not interested us in the least, but not at all !and that we have to go (you're hungry!!)
Another farm had agreed to take us in, but too late for us to organize ...
And there was no farm offering WWOOFing in the states that we will going through ...
This is how ends our hope of wwoofing ...a complete disaster…..
Haut du formulaire
Let’sLet’s go back to Sao Luis ...
Due to the heat and the humidity, the city is full of mosquitoes (thankfully not malaria-carrying!), and the heat and humidity make it very painful to walk a long time in the town center.
Bas du formulaire
Small anachronism: an appliance store in an old colonial house
On two days we spent one on the computer (we updated the blog ...) and reading, and the second day we explored the city center.
We also organized our program for the following days around São Luis. To discover in the upcoming episodes.