NationalGeographic.com [an error occurred while processing this directive]


 

  Field Notes From
Bahia



<< Back to Feature Page



On Assignment
Arrows
View Field Notes
From Author

Charles E. Cobb, Jr.



On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Photographer

David Alan Harvey



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by David Alan Harvey (top), and Yuri Almeida
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
Bahia

Field Notes From Author
Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
Best Worst Quirkiest

There was never a moment that I felt in danger or intimidated when I was in Bahia. And rarely was I ever denied anything I asked for. I could meet whomever I wanted to meet and go wherever I wanted to go. It’s a very relaxed culture, and the Bahians are interested in people who are interested in them. All these factors combined made for a great reporting experience.



I brought my wife and ten-year-old daughter, Zora, with me on my second trip to Bahia, and on one hot Sunday we went to the beach. The ocean in that area can be very treacherous, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get snatched by the powerful undertow. So I told my daughter that she could only play close to the edge of the water. But as I was sitting around a table talking with my wife and some friends, she started to wander further out. I didn’t catch this until I raised my head, and at that moment I saw panic come across her face as the water dragged her out.
When I rose out of my chair, at least a half dozen Bahians had already taken note of the situation and were racing out to the water. By the time I got down there, they were already bringing her back in. She ended up being OK, so I picked her up, sat her at the table, and got her a Coke. She told me she was never going into the ocean again. But after she finished her drink, she was ready to get back in.



The first Candomblé service I attended was in a stuffy, crowded ceremonial room, and just as I took my seat, I saw the priest’s wife standing in the doorway, waving me over. I walked over to her, and she took me to one of the back rooms. I didn’t know what was going on or what to expect, but I ended up meeting the priest. The weather was hot, so he gave me a beer to cool down. Traditionally refreshments follow Candomblé services. Mine came early. I don’t know why. But the unexpected happens frequently in Bahia. Still, a kind of mental jaw dropped. No priest or pastor had ever pulled me out of a church service for a beer before.





© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe