A Day at Modelo Mercado; A Night with "Decadent Aristocrats."

Brazil - The Making of a Novel - Part 11

The Journey: Salvador, Bahia  July 8 - July 11
Grab a few hours this a.m. for “office work.” Must allow more time for mental appraisal/assimilation of the barrage of information. Feel pretty secure with picture of Bahia for Tomás's arrival, Padre Inácio etc. (These are characters from my Outline for Brazil written earlier and based on book knowledge of Brazil and research in Portugal.)
Went to Antonietta's house in Sapateiros. Drunk, soiled beggar in doorway. We spent three hours poring over books from her four-thousand volume library. Especially impressed with her bandeirante material. Rest largely comprises works on churches, churches, churches. “Nossa Senhora” (Our Lady) are two words I'll never forget
In afternoon we go to the market, Mercado Modelo. An explosion of life Bahianese! Essentially a tourist/handicraft market, it has a restaurant attached to it. A vast meeting place where beer flows like water and people sing the songs of Bahia. For three hours, we eat and listen to the Afro-Brazilian rhythms. Again bringing a thought of the “release” from the slave quarters. (My South African heritage shames me in this blackest of all Bahiana cities!)
Historic Salvador, Bahia
with Mercado Modelo  Photo: Fernando Molina/Wikipedia

Back to Antonietta's house in the oldest quarter and for four-and-a-half hours she sits reading my synopsis. Her verdict is ENTHUSIASTIC! And a good deal more! Few Brazilians know the history as ELU, she says. Encouraging.
For an hour afterwards, we sit talking about the political realities, '64 to present. Troubling. She explains background of the opposition PF (Popular Front) to which she belonged aimed at grassroots change, alongside PCdoB(Communist Party, Maoist) and PCB (old Prestes group, pro-Soviet.) Also active were Focustas (from “focus”) who became most radical element. After congress, PF merged with PCdoB to work for reforms.
Pro Democracy Demonstration in Brazil 1984
Photo: Jorge Henrique Singh via Wikipeida

She talks of strong-arm methods/disappearance of friends etc. All very similar in most respects to South African situation.
Not clear of objectives, though main purpose “to improve condition” of the people. That's too broad for my liking. In recent times, things appear to have eased up but not clear to what extent. She stresses role of the Church. Even though it may not be evident in outward ways, e.g. church attendance, the Catholic spirit is fundamental to Brazilians.
Antonietta refers to 1 percent of population being truly “educated,” traveled etc. including those like herself whom she describes as “decadent aristocrats.”
Our talks end at 1.40 A.M. I've decided to move to Porto Seguro on Monday morning; Brasília next Thursday.

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