Travel to Brazil for fun and to remember a blight on the face of humanity
Here in Brazil, just about every city has its own flea market, where locals and travelers can barter with vendors for everything from albino chickens to cute little puppies to just about any type of keepsake one can imagine.
Salvador de Bahia is no exception, as right next to the Atlantic Ocean is Mercado Modelo, which is a market very much geared for tourist dollars. It’s a fantastic place to wile away some time, as well as learn some valuable things about the culture of this northern Brazil city.
While there are two full floors of little shops and stands to catch your interest, Mercado Modelo’s most interesting feature lies below. In the basement, kept in perfect condition, is what can be best refered to as a holding tank. Scores of years ago, boats would come across the Atlantic and offload their product into this holding tank, sometimes stuffing it well beyond capacity.
Their product? Africans, waiting to be sold into slavery.
The area underneath Mercado Modelo is about ankle deep in water, just as it was when they would stuff hundreds of potential slaves into it. Many of the Africans would stay for weeks and months in this wet hell hole, taking turns sleeping on wood planks, awaiting their eventual sale. It is truly a monument to the evil of man.
That the Salvadorians keep this tank on display for all who want to see is not a shock. With the majority of the residents of Brazil’s third-largest city being the descendants of slaves, the marks of slavery can be seen throughout the city. It is a part of their past they do not hide, or try and cover up.
The attitude here seems to be to never let anyone forget the hell their ancestors went through. But it’s not done in an angry, or in-your-face way. These are very friendly people, with seemingly little or no resentment toward other races. It is what it is, however, and for them to celebrate their heritage, they rightfully celebrate their relatives’ plight, and invite everyone else to see it, as well.
It is part of what makes a trip to Salvador, or many other places in Brazil so remarkable. You can buy traditional drums and clothes, in the same spot where people once bought and sold other people.
It is something that will make you think, which seems to be all Salvadorians ask from you regarding this nightmarish part of their proud history.
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