Tuesday 21 March 2017

From On board Ponant le Soleal: Say Hello to Sao Luis


Unlike most of Brazil, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Sao Luis has French origins and was founded in 1612 by a royal consortium under the name Saint Louis de Maragnan.

Today most of the heritage buildings are occupied by shops or artisans but a great many remain unoccupied and in varying states of (dis)repair. The usual churches, civic buildings and hotels make up the balance.

Dark clouds and rain welcomed us, but broke just long enough for us to stroll through the cobbled streets and admire the mostly 19th century houses lining the narrow lanes and alleyways.

It was pleasing to see the city welcoming us with some performances of traditonal music and dance in the square and a particularly exhilarating carnivale-style demonstration in one of the empty spaces. It would have been extra special to see it outside in the square where it was planned, but the clouds threatened to send the mascara running.

The dance is called Bumba Boi and tells a folk tale about a villager's pregnant wife who craved bull's tongue and incurred the wrath of the farmer who owned the beast of her desires. Seemed a flamboyant and boisterous way to celebrate such an event, but to our advantage.

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