A French Touch

    A French
Touch

    A roar made the house shake. A blood cascade gushed over the man!
    The foot was agitated as a wounded monster.
    By Brazzil Magazine

    Maranhão

    Maranhão, with an area of 324,616 sq. km and a population of five million, is the
    second largest state in the Northeast, after Bahia.

    For many years after their discovery of Brazil, the Portuguese showed little interest
    in the area, which now forms the state of Maranhão. In 1612, the French arrived to
    construct a fort at São Luís, which later became the capital of the state.

    Although the southern and eastern areas of Maranhão are characterized by vast expanses
    of babaçu palms and typical sertão landscapes, the western and
    northwestern regions merge into humid Amazon rainforests.

    The rural economy of Maranhão is dependent on the babaçu palm, which serves an
    amazing multitude of purposes: the nuts can be eaten straight out of the fruit or crushed
    to produce vegetable oil (margarine) or industrial lubricating oils; the tips of the young
    palms can be eaten as `palm hearts’; and the older trunks are used for construction of
    huts, with roofing material supplied by the leaves—which can also be used for the
    production of cellulose and paper. The residue from the crushed nuts provides excellent
    fertilizer and cattle feed; and the hulls of the fruits are used in the production of
    acetates, tar and methyl alcohol. Finally, the hulls are turned to charcoal for use in
    smelting. Things go better with babaçu!

    The state’s most recent impact on the country’s political scene was made by Roseana
    Sarney, the daughter of former president José Sarney, who in November 1994 became the
    first woman in Brazil to be elected a state governor. Young and beautiful, `Roseana’, as
    she encouraged voters to call her, had her face splashed on just about every inch of
    available wall space during the campaign. She scraped into the job by the slimmest margin,
    with many residents claiming it was her family’s connections and power that got her over
    the line. Meanwhile, her father recently established a $12.5 million memorial to himself,
    complete with black-marble mortuary room, with part of the money paid by taxpayers.

    SÀO LUÍS

    São Luís, the capital of Maranhão, is a city with unpretentious colonial charm and a
    rich folkloric tradition—definitely a highlight for travelers in the Northeast. The
    population is a diverse mixture of Europeans, blacks and Indians. Apart from the
    attractions of the restored colonial architecture in the historical center, São Luís
    offers passable beaches only half an hour from the center (with better ones further
    afield), and the opportunity to cross Baía de São Marcos to visit Alcântara, an
    impressive historic town slipping regally into decay.

    History

    São Luís was the only city in Brazil founded and settled by the French. In 1612 three
    French ships sailed for Maranhão to try to cut off a chunk of Brazil. They were embraced
    by the local Indians, the Tupinambá, who hated the Portuguese. Once settled in São
    Luís, named after their King Louis XIII, the French enlisted the help of the Tupinambá
    to expand their precarious foothold by attacking tribes around the mouth of the Amazon.

    But French support for the new colony was weak, and in 1614 the Portuguese set sail for
    Maranhão. A year later the French fled, and the Tupinambá were `pacified’ by the
    Portuguese.

    Except for a brief Dutch occupation between 1641 and 1644, São Luís developed slowly
    as a port for the export of sugar, and later for cotton exports. As elsewhere, the
    plantation system was established with slaves and Indian labor, despite the relatively
    poor lands. When demand for these crops slackened in the 19th century, São Luís went
    into a long and slow decline.

    In recent years the economy of São Luís has been stimulated by several mega-projects.
    A modern port complex has been built to export the mineral riches of the Serra dos
    Carajás, a range of hills in the Amazon, which has the world’s largest deposits of iron
    ore. In 1980s, Alcoa Aluminum built an enormous factory for aluminum
    processing—you’ll see it along the highway south of the city. The $1.5 billion price
    tag for this project was the largest private investment in Brazil’s history. A missile
    station has been built near Alcântara, and oil has been found in the bay.

    Orientation

    Perched on a hill overlooking the Baía de São Marcos, São Luís is actually on an
    island of the same name. The historic core of São Luís, now known as Projeto Reviver
    (Project Renovation), lies below the hill. Going north from the old town, the Ponte José
    Sarney bridge will take you across to São Francisco, where there is the new and affluent
    district with several hotels, restaurants and trendy nightspots.

    It’s easy to get around on foot—despite the hills and confusing street
    layout—because everything is so close. In fact, as long as you’re in the old part of
    town, a bus is rarely needed.

    The most confusing thing about getting around São Luís is the existence of several
    different names for the same streets. There are the new official names that are on street
    signs and the historical names or nicknames that the locals use. No two city maps seem to
    be the same.

    Alternative Street Names

    The following is a short list of streets with their common alternative names in
    brackets:

    28 de Julho (Rua do Giz)

    Rua da Estrela (Rua Cândido Mendes)

    Rua Afonso Pena (Rua Formosa)

    Rua do Sol (Rua Nina Rodriguez)

    Rua do Egito (Rua Tarquínio Lopes)

    Rua do Veado (Rua Celso Magalhães)

    Rua dos Afogados (Rua José Bonifácio)

    Rua de Nazaré (Rua de Nazaré e Odilo)

    Rua das Barrocas (Beco dos Barqueiros; Rua Isaacs Martins)

    Rua Jacinto Maia (Rua da Cascata)

    Rua Portugal (Rua Trapiche)

    Rua da Alfândega (Rua Marcelino de Almeida)

    Praça Dom Pedro II (Avenida Dom Pedro II)

    Information

    Tourist Office

    São Luís has recently upgraded its tourist information facilities. Maratur, the state
    tourism organization, has its head office just off Praça Dom Pedro II. Other Maratur
    information booths are on Praça João Lisboa, next to the main post office; on Rua da
    Estrela, in the historic center; at the rodoviária; and at the Centro de
    Artesanato (CEPRAMA), on Rua de São Pantaleão 1232. Sebrae, a quasi-governmental
    industry organization, has a high-tech tourist information booth on Praça Dom Pedro II.
    This is a good place to make contact with local guides, such as Simon Ramos (236-4069) or
    Senhor Obrito.

    For details about national parks in the state, contact IBAMA (222-7288), at Avenida
    Jaime Tavares 25.

    Money

    Banco do Brasil is at Avenida Gomes de Castro 46. Banco da Amazônia, at Avenida Pedro
    II 140, also changes money, and is more conveniently located if you are staying in the
    historical district.

    Post & Telephone

    The main post office and TELMA, the state telephone company, are in the same building
    on Praça João Lisboa.

    Foreign Consulates

    The following countries are represented in São Luís:

    Denmark

    Rua do Sol 141 (222-4075)

    France

    Rua Santo Antônio 259, Colégio Franco Maranhense (222-2732)

    Germany

    Praça Gonçalves Dias 310 (221-2294)

    Italy

    Avenida do Vale 9 (227-2387)

    Catedral da Sé

    Constructed by the Jesuits in 1726 as the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte, this
    building became the official cathedral in 1762. Inside, there’s a fine baroque altar and
    ceiling frescoes decorated with babaçu motifs.

    Palácio dos Leões

    Originally a French fortress built in 1612 by Daniel de la Touche, during the reign of
    Louis XIII, this is now the Palácio do Governo, the state governor’s residence and
    office. The interior reflects the pomp of Versailles and French architectural tastes.
    Visiting hours are 3 to 6 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

    Projeto Reviver

    During the late 1980s, the state authorities finally agreed to restore the historical
    district, which had been neglected and decaying for many decades. The initial restoration
    project was completed in 1990, but the new governor, Roseana Sarney, has promised new
    funds for ongoing work.

    Over 200 buildings have already been restored and the district has been turned into one
    of the architectural highlights of Brazil.

    To appreciate the superb colonial mansions and the many designs and colors of their azulejo
    façades, just wander around the district. Azuleaw6kx were first produced in Portugal
    and later became a popular product in France, Belgium and Germany. Since azuleaw6kx
    provided a durable means to protect outside walls from the humidity and heat in São
    Luís, their use became standard practice during colonial times.

    Museu de Artes Visuais

    This museum has a fine collection of old azuleaw6kx, engravings, prints and
    paintings. It’s open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday, and from 2 to 6 pm on Saturday
    and Sunday.

    Opposite the museum is the old round market, where you can shop with the locals for
    dried salted shrimp (eaten with shell and all), cachaça, dried goods and
    basketwork, or visit the lunch counters for cheap local cooking.

    Cafuá das Mercês & Museu do Negro

    This museum is housed in the old slave market building where slaves were once kept
    after their arrival from Africa and until they were sold—notice the absence of
    windows. A small and striking series of displays documents the history of slavery in
    Maranhão. The museum is open from 1 to 5.30 pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from 2.30 to 5.30
    pm on Sunday.

    The African slaves brought to Maranhão were Bantus from Africa who were used primarily
    on the sugar plantations, and to a lesser extent for the cultivation of rice and cotton.
    They brought their own type of Candomblé, which is called Tambor de Mina in this part of
    Brazil. The museum director, Jorge Babalaô, is an expert on Candomblé and
    Bantu/Maranhense folklore. He may be able to indicate where you can visit a ceremony, but
    the major houses, the Casa das Minas, Casa de Nagô and Casa Fanti-Ashanti-Nagô, don’t
    welcome visitors.

    Museu do Centro de Cultura Popular

    This museum is at Rua 28 de Julho 221, just a few minutes on foot from the Cafuá das
    Mercês.

    The displays include a good collection of handicrafts from the state of Maranhão, and
    Bumba Meu Boi costumes and masks. It’s open from 3 to 6 pm Monday to Friday from 10 am to
    1 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

    Centro de Criatividade

    This exhibition and performance space in the heart of Projeto Reviver is for
    culture vultures interested in the local art scene. There’s a theatre for local plays and
    dance productions, an art gallery and a cinema showing art-house films.

    Igreja do Desterro

    This church notable for its facade, was built between 1618 and 1641 and is the only
    Byzantine church in Brazil. There’s small adjoining museum, the Museu de Paramentos
    Eclesiásticos, with a display of ecclesiastical apparel.

    Fonte das Pedras

    This fountain, built by the Dutch during their brief occupation of São Luís, marks
    the spot where, on 31 October 1615, Jerônimo de Albuquerque and his troops camped before
    expelling the French. The fountain is located inside a small, shady park.

    Museu Histórico e Artístico do Estado de Maranhão

    This museum, housed in a restored mansion originally built in 1836, provides an idea of
    daily life in the 18th century, with an attractive display of artifacts from wealthy
    Maranhão families. There are furnishings, family photographs, religious articles, coins,
    sacred art—and President José Sarney’s bassinet.

    Opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Saturday.

    Fonte do Ribeirão

    This is a delightful fountain, built in 1796, with spouting gargoyles. The three metal
    gates once provided access to subterranean tunnels, which were reportedly linked to
    churches as a means to escape danger.

    Beaches

    The beaches are beyond São Francisco district and they are all busy on sunny weekends.
    You should beware of rough surf and tremendous tides in the area: ask for local advice
    about safe times and places to swim before you head for the beaches.

    Ponta d’Areia is the closest beach to the city, only 3.5 km away, but the
    pollution has put a stop to bathing. It’s a popular beach for those who want to make a
    quick exit from the city and visit the barracas and restaurants here for beach
    food.

    The next beach, Calhau, is broad and beautiful and only 7.5 km from the city.
    The locals like to drive their cars onto Calhau (as well as the next beach, Olho d’Água)
    park and lay out their towels alongside their machines. On weekends this causes congestion
    which spoils enjoyment of these good city beaches.

    Olho d’Água, 11.5 km from São Luís, has more beach barracas and
    football games. It’s active and fun on weekends.

    Praia do Araçagi, four km further, is the quietest and most peaceful of these
    beaches. There are only simple bars and a few weekend beach houses.

    Festivals

    São Luís has one of Brazil’s richest folkloric traditions, which manifests itself
    during its many festivals. Carnival is supposedly a real hit. There are active samba clubs
    and distinctive local dances and music. Most Carnival activity is out on the streets and
    the tourist influence is minimal.

    The Tambor de Mina festivals, held in July, are important events for followers of the
    Afro-Brazilian religions in São Luís, and São Luís’ famous Bumba Meu Boi festival
    commences in the second half of June, continuing until the second week of August. The
    Festa do Divino, celebrated on Pentecost (between May and June), is especially spectacular
    in Alcântara.

    Places to Stay (bottom, middle and top end.) (For all places listed here read
    the book for this information.)

    Places to Eat

    The best Maranhense food comes from the sea. In São Luís you’ll find many of the
    familiar dishes of the Northeast, and regional specialties such as torta de sururu (mussel
    pie), casquinha de caranguejo (stuffed crab), caldeirada de camarão (shrimp
    stew) and the city’s special rice dish—arroz de cuxá (rice with vinegar,
    local vegetables and shrimp.)

    City Center

    There are plenty of lanchonetes serving cheap food. Across from the Fonte do
    Ribeirão, you’ll find a couple of good snack bars with sucos.

    The Base da Lenoca, on Praça Dom Pedro II is a popular restaurant with a great
    position overlooking the Rio Anil—order a beer and a snack and enjoy the breeze. In
    the heart of the historic district, on Rua da Estrela, there’s the Restaurante
    Antigamente, which has tables on the street and seafood and meat dishes. Live
    music is offered here in the evening on weekends. Senac: at Rua de Nazaré
    244, offers fine dining in a lovely colonial building. Naturista Alimentos, at
    Rua do Sol 517, has the best vegetarian food in the city. Pizzaria Alcântara, on
    Rua Portugal, has reasonable pizzas and refeições.

    São Francisco

    The main drag through São Francisco has many new restaurants, particularly pizzerias
    and bars. The Oriental at Avenida Presidente Castelo Branco 47 has a nice
    view and serves Chinese food.

    Further from the City Center

    The seafood is highly recommended at Base do Germano (222-3276), at Avenida
    Wenceslau Brás in Gamboa district. Base do Edilson (222-7210), at Rua Alencar
    Campos 31, in the Vila Bessa district, is a 10-minute drive from the city center. The
    restaurant starts serving lunch at 11.30 am and dinner at 7 pm. The portions are not big
    for what you pay, but we’d suggest ensopado de camarão com molho pirão and peixada
    com pirão, for $12.

    Beaches

    At Ponte d’Areia, Tia Maria has good seafood, and it’s also a fine place to
    watch the sunset over a cool drink. This is also the closest beach to the city with barracas
    serving food.

    Entertainment

    São Luís is currently the reggae center of the Northeast, and many of the nightspots
    cater to reggeiros (reggae fans). The tourist office has a list of places to check
    out—some of them can be a bit dangerous, although this also seemed to be a
    prerequisite for a happening place! It’s worth asking locals for recommendations. Espaço
    Aberto, at Rua Epitácio Cafeteira 117, São Francisco, is a good place to start.

    For dancing, try Boate Gênesis, at Avenida dos Holandeses Qd-28, 4, at Calhau beach;
    Boate Tucanos, at Avenida Jerônimo Albuquerque, Curva do 90, in the Vinhais district,
    northeast of the city center; or Le Mason, at Rua Haroldo Paiva 110, São Cristóvão.

    Things to Buy

    São Luís is the place to look for the traditional handicrafts of Maranhão, such as
    woodcarving, basketry, lacework, ceramics leatherwork, and woven goods made from linen,
    local plant fibers and straw. Also on sale are featherwork and items made from woven straw
    or plant fibers (from baskets to bracelets) by the Urubus-Caapor Indians and the Guajajara
    Indians, both from the interior of Maranhão state.

    CEPRAMA (Centro de Artesanato), at Rua de São Pantaleão 1232, is housed in a
    renovated factory and functions as an exhibition hall and sales outlet for handicrafts.
    It’s open from 3 to 9 pm on Sunday and Monday, and from 9 am to 9 pm Tuesday to Saturday.
    Also worth visiting are the Centro Artesanal do Maranhão at Avenida Marechal Castelo
    Branco 605, and the Mercado Central. The Mercado Central is open from 7 am to 4 pm Monday
    to Saturday, and the Centro Artesanal do Maranhão is open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to
    Friday and from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

    Getting There & Away (Air, Bus, Boat) & Getting Around for all
    places listed here. (For this information read the book.)

    ILHA DE SÀO LUÍS

    Praia da Raposa

    Out at the tip of the Ilha de São Luís, 30 km from the city, is the interesting
    fishing center of Raposa, also known for its lacework. It’s a poor town, built on stilts
    above mangrove swamps, which gives it an unusual appearance. The bulk of the town’s
    population is descended from Cearense immigrants. There are no tourist facilities
    but the ocean here is pretty and very shallow. There are lots of small fishing boats and
    it’s not too hard to negotiate a ride. Bathing at the beach is dangerous due to extreme
    tidal variations. The water recedes up to one km at low tide. 

    Sao José do Ribamar

    This fishing town is on the east coast of the island, 30 km from the city. There’s a
    busy little waterfront with boats leaving for small towns along the coast. This is a good
    way to explore some of the untouristed villages on the island. On Sunday buses go from
    São José to nearby Ponta de Panaquatira, a popular weekend beach.

    The Sao José do Ribamar Miracle

    The origins of the town date back to the early 18th century when a
    Portuguese sailing ship went astray and started to flounder on the Baía de São José.
    The desperate crew begged for mercy from São José das Botas and promised to procure the
    finest statue of the saint and construct a chapel for it if they were spared.

    The ship and its crew were miraculously saved, and several years later, the promise was
    kept when a fine statue of the saint was installed in a chapel at the tip of the cape
    where the disaster was narrowly avoided. The settlement on this site later received the
    name São José do Ribamar, a fusion of the saint’s name and the local Indian name for the
    rock formation at the cape.

    According to local legend, the statue was moved away from its site beside the shore,
    but miraculously reappeared in its original position the next day—without any signs
    of human intervention. The miracle was repeated a couple more times, until the locals
    decided the statue should be left in its preferred place. During its track, the statue
    left deep footprints along the rocky coastline which are now venerated by the townsfolk,
    who host the annual Festa do Padroeiro (held in September) in honor of the saint.

    AROUND SÀO LUÍS

    Alumar

    One of the world’s largest aluminum processing plants is on the outskirts of São
    Luís. Alumar is a co-operative venture between the Brazilian government and a Shell
    Oil/Alcoa consortium. Bauxite ore is extracted from mines in Pará and brought by rail to
    the Alumar plant for processing. Tours are conducted on Saturday (216-1155). Call a
    few days in advance for reservations. A company bus leaves from Praça Teodoro in São
    Luís.

    ALCÂNTARA

    Across the Baía de São Marcos from São Luís is the old colonial town of Alcântara.
    Founded in the early 1600s with extensive slave labor, the town was the hub of the
    region’s sugar and cotton economy. The beneficiaries of this wealth, Maranhão’s rich
    landowners, preferred living in Alcântara to Sao Luís

    While the town has been in decline since the latter half of the 19th century, it is
    still considered an architectural treasure and some experts claim that it is the most
    homogeneous group of colonial buildings and ruins from the 17th and 18th centuries in
    Brazil.

    Construction of the Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara (CLA), a nearby
    rocket-launching facility, caused mutterings amongst residents, who disagreed with the
    forceful resettlement policy undertaken to clear the construction site. There couldn’t be
    a greater contrast with this slumbering colonial town than a space-age launching pad!

    Information

    The tourist office in São Luís has brochures about Alcântara. Phone connections with
    Alcântara are effected through the TELMA office in Alcântara, where you can leave a
    message.

    Things to See & Do

    The town is very poor and decaying, but don’t miss the following: the beautiful row of
    two-story houses on Rua Grande, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo (1665);
    and the best preserved pelourinho (whipping post) in Brazil, on Praça da
    Matriz.

    The Museu Histórico, on the Praça da Matriz, displays a collection of sacred
    art, festival regalia and colonial furniture. Each room has its own guardian—a source
    of employment for the locals. Opening hours for the museum are 8 am to 2 pm Tuesday to
    Saturday, and 8 am to 1 pm on Sunday.

    Once you’ve seen the main sights, you can walk to the beaches or take a boat trip out
    to nearby islands.

    Festival

    The Festa do Divino is held on the first Sunday after Ascension Day. Check the date for
    the festival (usually held in May) with the tourist office in São Luís.

    This is considered one of the most colorful annual festivals in Maranhão, a fusion of
    African and Catholic elements with two children dressed as the emperor and empress paraded
    through the town and accompanied by musicians.

    PARQUE NACIONAL DOS LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES

    The natural attractions of this national park include 1550 sq. km of beaches,
    mangroves, lagoons, dunes and local fauna (turtles and migratory birds). The park’s name
    refers to the immense dunes, which look like lençóis (bed sheets) strewn across
    the landscape. Since 1981 this parcel of land has been set aside as a protected ecological
    zone, staving off the ruinous effects of land speculation.

    The park has minimal tourist infrastructure, but it’s currently possible to arrange a
    visit from the town of Barreirinhas, which is two hours by boat from the dunes. The tiny
    fishing villages of Mandacaru and Ponta do Mangue, around 22 km northeast of Barreirinhas,
    are very hard to reach and have no facilities for tourists, so take your own hammock.

    Information

    For more information, contact the tourist office in São Luís, or IBAMA (222-3006), at
    Avenida Jaime Tavares 25, also in São Luís.

    Tours

    Several travel agencies in São Luís offer tours to the park. Taguatur (232-0906), at
    Rua do Sol 141, loja 14, and Delmundo Turismo (222-8719), nearby on Rua do Ribeirão, both
    have three-day tours from around $175, including transport, accommodation in Barreirinhas
    and a guide.

    Barreirinhas

    Barreirinhas, the jumping-off point for visiting the Parque Nacional dos Lençóis
    Maranhenses, is also a pretty little town on the banks of the Rio Preguiça. There is a
    river beach with sand dunes near the center of town, and a couple of good pousadas
    and restaurants.

    Pousada Lins organizes tours of the park—the day trip by boat up the Rio Preguiça
    costs $90 for up to five people. Otherwise, ask around for Edivaldo, a friendly and honest
    young guide, who can organize transport for day trips. If you don’t want to do the full
    day trip, it’s possible to hire boats along the riverfront to take you to the beginning of
    the park for a few dollars.

    Tutóia

    Tutóia is a fishing port and beach town on the edge the Delta do Parnaíba, a
    2700-sq-km expanse of rivers, dunes, beaches and mangrove forest which straddles the
    borders of Maranhão and Piauí.

    On the beachfront, the Pousada Cação is a beach shack with a bar decorated
    with shark’s jaws and snakeskins. Apartamentos cost $8, single or double. The Hotel
    Três Irmãos, on Praça Igreja, in the center, is run by a friendly family and has quartos
    with fan at $3 per person.

    THE NORTH COAST

    The town of Guimarães is a center for boat building and fishing. Further north is
    Cururupu, a small town which is the gateway to the Lençóis de Cururupu—a huge
    expanse of coastal dunes similar to, but not to be confused with, those in the Parque
    Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses.

    About 80 km offshore is Parcel de Manoel Luís, a coral reef named after the Manoel
    Luís, the first ship to be lost there. According to experts, this reef, extending
    over 28 km, is the largest in South America, and there are plans to turn it into a marine
    park. There are also plans to exploit it as one of the world’s top attractions for divers,
    especially those with fat wallets tucked into their wetsuit.

    RESERVA BIOLÓGICA DO GURUPI

    This biological reserve in the Serra do Tiracambu, on the western border of the state,
    is not open to the public. This news does not seem to have reached the sawmill owners,
    loggers and assorted industrialists clustered on the fringe of the reserve, who are
    plundering it at top speed.

    IMPERATRIZ

    Imperatriz, 636 km from São Luís, is a rapidly expanding city on the border with
    Pará. The expansion is due to the rabid logging and mining of the surrounding region,
    which is turning the forests into ecological nightmares and attracting plenty of low-life
    characters to make a quick killing. The only possible reason to visit would be to change
    buses—otherwise, just keep going. The airports at Imperatriz and nearby Açailândia
    are frequently closed for days on end because of the huge clouds of smoke from forest
    fires.

    CAROLINA

    The town of Carolina, 242 km south of Imperatriz, lies beside the Rio Tocantins, and
    provides a handy base for visiting nearby natural attractions.

    Pedra Caída, 35 km from town on the road towards Estreito, is a dramatic combination
    of rock canyons and waterfalls. Some of the other spectacular waterfalls in the region
    are: Cachoeira do Itapecuruzinho, 27 km from town on the road that goes toward Riachão;
    Cachoeira de São Simão, at Fazenda São Jorge, about 10 km from Carolina; and Cachoeira
    da Barra da Cabeceira. There are rock paintings and inscriptions at Morro das Figuras,
    close to Fazenda Recanto; and bat enthusiasts will want to visit the colony of bats in
    Passagem Funda, a large cave 70 km from Carolina.

    Bumba Meu Boi

    São Luís is famous for its Bumba Meu Boi—a fascinating, wild folkloric festival
    with a Carnivalesque atmosphere in which participants dance sing and tell the story of the
    death and resurrection of the bull—with plenty of room for improvisation. Parade
    groups spend the year in preparation, costumes are lavish and new songs and poetry are
    invented. There are three forms of Bumba Meu Boi in Maranhão: bois de matraca; bois
    de zabumba and bois de orquestra.

    The story and its portrayal differ the Northeast, but the general plot is as follows:
    Castrina, goddaughter of the local farm owner is pregnant and feels a craving to eat the
    tongue of the best boi (bull) on the farm. She cajoles her husband, Chico, to kill
    the beast. Once the dead bull is discovered, several characters (caricatures drawn from
    all levels of society) do some detective work and finally track down the perpetrator of
    the crime. Chico is brought to trial, but the bull is resuscitated by various magic
    incantations and tunes. A pardon is granted and the story reaches its happy ending when
    Chico is reunited with Catrina.

    The festivals start in the second half of June and continue into the second week of
    August. Give the tourist office a call to get the exact data.

    Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
    Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro,  and Robyn Jones. For more
    information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
    Used by permission.

    Buy it at
    Amazon.com

    Lonely Planet
    Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit

    by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
    Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
    704 pp

    Send your
    comments to
    Brazzil

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    Brazil's public television TV Brasil

    A Few Pointers to Keep Brazil’s New Public TV in Line

    In response to the launching by the Brazilian government of a national public television ...

    March in Brazil Urges Better Housing and Sanitation

    Brazil’s National Urban Reform and Cities Rights March, which got underway Monday, August 15, ...

    More Heads to Roll in Brazil’s Bribing Scandal

    Brazil’s ruling Workers Party, PT, is holding this Tuesday an Executive emergency meeting to ...

    Best-seller Books, Plays and Movies

    By Brazzil Magazine RIO Buda (Buddha)—Comedy. Decided to get a man she loves, a ...

    The Main Dishes

    Sitting on the Turkish bed the traveler unbuttoned his shirt, loosened the belt, looked ...

    France’s Year of Brazil Has Already Increased Brazilian Exports by 17%

    According to data from the Brazilian government’s Export Promotion Agency (Apex/Brasil), for the first ...

    Brazil Worried About Use of Transgenic Corn

    Brazil’s acting Minister of Environment, Cláudio Langone, said this Thursday, December 8, that the ...

    Brazil Gets Another Party, the 28th

    As the Congress and civil society engage in heated discussions regarding a broad political ...

    Powell to Brazilians: ‘US Is Your Friend!’

    You are the ones who are going to take over as world leaders of ...

    Carnaval Biz: It Brings Close to US$ 500,000 to Rio, Brazil

    The Rio de Janeiro Carnaval celebration, in Brazil, is certainly spectacular. It is also ...