Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

The houses that replaced, using the profits from diamonds, the tents made of cloth that inspired the name Lençóis da Bahia.
loaded game
Cars loaded and the young owner, as seen from inside a shop in Lençóis.
Church of the Rosary
Resident passes in front of the Rosário church.
Young residents enter a shady alley that starts from Praça Horácio de Mattos.
pine cone mass
An exuberant mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception takes place in the church of the Rosary.
Sertanejo Fashion
A native with traditional costumes carries his horse on Rua das Pedras.
Resident awaits the opening of a store on Rua das Pedras.
Horácio de Mattos Square
Full moon and electric lighting highlight the colors of Praça Horácio de Mattos
Horácio de Mattos Square
A group of visitors is photographed in Praça Horácio de Mattos while a young native does cycle-acrobatics.
equine silhouette
Horsemen walk along a colorful stretch of a street in Lençóis.
at relax
Friends relax in the dark lagoon of Ribeirão do Meio
Bridge view
Nativo watches the action of the city.
Ice cream time
Time for ice cream with friends.
In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.

When contemplating the city from the top of the Serra do Sincorá, it is difficult to imagine the strange temporary scenario that gave rise to its name.

In those early days, Lençóis was little more than a chaotic garimpeiro stronghold. It made millionaires the powerful and crushed the weak. Today, it only takes a few days to see that, from its past, almost only the positive aspects remain.

It was something that the Brazilian government, under pressure from the MCC – the Community Creativity Movement created by defenders in the region – ended up favoring. Industrial prospecting was prohibited.

In 1973, Lençóis da Bahia was promoted to National Heritage, a title only given to true Brazilian historical and natural treasures.

It's more than just what makes Lençóis so special. There are numerous beautiful cities around this outside world that do not exert their magnetism. There is something else. Anything that goes beyond the senses.

After some time, it becomes obvious that Lençóis and its 6400 inhabitants live a relationship of unconditional love and that, in turn, generate passion in Brazilian and foreign visitors.

These, linked to other cities and other people, when they are forced to leave, end up doing so in annoyance. Not all outsiders are satisfied with the farewell. From time to time, there appears another one who does not resist the promised happiness and ends up staying.

Dona Eulina, the owner of the inn where we stayed, was one of the winners. Born in Bahia, she moved to São Paulo as a child. There he spent most of his nearly 60 years.

For the last fifteen years, he found himself dreaming of a different place, surrounded by a unique atmosphere of affection and well-being, a phenomenon that describes us with renewed emotion: “On a short vacation, I decided to return to Bahia with my daughter.

By chance, we passed through Lençóis. Strolling along the sidewalks, I recognized the refuge of my dreams. After overcoming my own fears of moving, I rushed through the renovation, bought a house and opened the business I run now, with my husband Roberto. We never wanted to leave here again.”

Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

The houses that replaced, using the profits from diamonds, the tents made of cloth that inspired the name Lençóis da Bahia.

From the Original Sheets to the Domain of Colonels

Despite the precarious conditions, life went smoothly for many of the village's founders.

The first diamond deposits, geological extension of the Namib desert deposits separated by the Atlantic with the drift of the continents, they were discovered in Chapada Velha, in 1822, by scouts looking for gold and slaves but did not disdain alternative ways of getting rich.

Twenty-two years later, someone called “Sinhô” Casusa do Prado found some precious stones with greater value. The region attracted thousands of fortune hunters, some already wealthy and opulent to whom wealth did not reach, others who only owned the clothes they wore.

Faced with a lack of housing and other infrastructure, the newcomers settled in makeshift tents. Seen from the surrounding hills, these tents looked like sheets spread in the wind. It was this outlandish vision that dictated the name of the future village.

At a glance, legends of incalculable treasures from the beds of rivers and streams in the region circulated throughout Brazil. Migration intensified. Years later, the miners' camps had already given way to several villages: Vila Velha de Palmeiras, Andaraí, Piatã, Igatu.

And the most desirable of all, Lençóis da Bahia.

Alley, Lençóis da Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

Young residents enter a shady alley that starts from Praça Horácio de Mattos.

The End of Fine Diamonds, and the Export of Raw Gemstones

At the height of the diamond cycle, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of all types of diamonds. Little by little, rough yolks began to predominate. They were only useful for industrial purposes.

Thanks to their drilling power, they proved to be perfect for mega-construction projects carried out by the French at the time.

It was the cases of Panama Canal, Saint Gothard Tunnel and London Underground.

The systematic purchase of these less precious stones in large quantities proved sufficient reason for the Paris government to install a vice-consulate in Lençóis. As expected, from architecture to etiquette, Lençóis and its merchants became French.

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Lençóis and the surrounding cities had seen much of their economic potential fade away. The French left.

The main testimony of its presence is, even today, the exquisite cream building of the vice-consulate, where diamonds were traded with European representatives.

After the French era, with the ever more real freedom of slaves and the loss of the enormous sums obtained from the sale of diamonds, Lençóis adapted to a new way of life.

The War Era of Horácio de Mattos and Coronéis Rivals

Starting in 1920, the city had regressed in such a way that it became a decadent domain, disputed by colonels and their jagunços. The most famous of all, the fearless Horácio de Mattos stood out from the rest by resorting to force and irreverence.

He even led the Brazilian government of Epitácio Pessoa to sign a pacification agreement with him. As we will see later, in the region, as well as throughout the Sertão, a colonel who was the leader of a jagunceiro army, as long as he was victorious, could be a hero. This, even the main square of the city is named after him.

Sertanejo, Lençóis da Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

A native with traditional costumes carries his horse on Rua das Pedras.

Despite the economic decline brought about by the XNUMXth century and the social upheaval, in its decay phase, Lençóis had already consolidated itself as an impressive architectural unit.

The town's houses developed largely due to the need to show off its new millionaire aristocracy. It is clear that, as much as they could, the poorest population insisted on following suit.

Horácio de Mattos square is the ex-libris of the inherited colonial houses. All around its almost rectangle, the two-story buildings are elegant and colorful. Many of them boast ornate facades and pointed windows and doors. Distributed throughout the buildings, there are Parisian lamps in gray tones that add even more refinement to the set.

At night, they ensure soft but warm lighting.

After the Heat, the Lençóis Party

In the afternoon, the squares and streets of Lençóis, buffeted by the tropical sun, remain almost deserted. At the end of the day, tourists and the entourage that guide and accompany them return from activities in the Chapada Diamantina.

At that time, the Lençoienses also left their homes. The city comes alive. Two of the favorite places for dinner and socializing are the square that appears in the middle of Rua das Pedras and Avenida Senhor dos Passos.

There, the small restaurants and improvised stands serve Bahian specialties such as “acarajé” pastry accompanied by cold “chopes”, caipirinhas or natural juices.

The local band often gathers to rehearse and flood the city with the bass and treble tones of the most genuine Brazilian compositions.

Nightlife and the Nightlife

For a long time the famous Rua das Pedras housed “brega”, the prostitution that always accompanied the new prospectors. It is now, alongside the esplanades of Horácio de Mattos square, responsible for a less controversial nightlife.

Horácio de Mattos Square, Lençóis da Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

Full moon and electric lighting highlight the colors of Praça Horácio de Mattos

It houses the famous Club 7, better known as Inferninho, a “disco-bar” in the local fashion, which shows “techno” versions of country themes and serves numerous types of cachaça. This combination, together with the unquestionable good mood of the regular customers, transformed the “disco” into a place of worship for the city's younger visitors.

From two or three in the morning, believe it or not, the only dancing alternative to Inferninho is called Veneno Café bar. Not everything is so profane or sounds toxic around here.

Religion continues to have enormous importance in Lençóis. As we could see, despite the influence of African rites and rituals (as in Jarê, the regional variation of Candomblé), holy days are still celebrated in the old Portuguese way.

We wander through the city when we are surprised by the sound of distant chants accompanied by the explosion of rockets. Looking back, we see that a huge procession leaves Horácio de Mattos square and enters Avenida 7 de Setembro, towards the bandstand.

With the diffuse silhouette of the houses as a background and the light of hundreds of torches tearing through the twilight, the scene proves to be worthy of a film set in the Middle Ages and with excellent photography.

After going around the bandstand, the procession heads to its last stop, Igreja do Rosário. There, he is joined by another crowd of believers who sing liturgical themes.

Mass, Lençóis da Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

An exuberant mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception takes place in the church of the Rosary.

We are allowed to go up to the choir balcony. From the top, we watch the ceremony in panoramic format. Its show of devotion reinforces the impression that, after the diamond fever, Lençóis is now, above all, a welcoming, believing and spiritual retreat.

Ribeirão do Meio and the Last Rape of Garimpo

Among the various water courses that the Sincorá mountain range refreshes Lençóis, the three main ones, the Ribeirões do Meio, de Cima and de Baixo delight the people and amaze outsiders.

Mainly on weekends, in the early morning, excursion groups loaded with lunches arrive at Ribeirão do Meio. From the city exit to the river, it is about 45 minutes of relaxed walking.

The winding path, almost always shady, furrows the slope of the mountain range. Towards the end, it reveals a wide valley that juts out from the craggy top of the mountain.

It is at the apex of this valley, several rocky platforms below, that the stream spreads out. One of these platforms gives way to a ramp that the water filled with iron oxide (but clean) and therefore reddish – continues to polish.

It was in Ribeirão do Meio that the most unusual extreme sport in the region was developed, the artistic “slide”.

As soon as they reach the small river dam, its practitioners climb the rocky slope of the river. Once at the top, they combine the following choreography. Therefore, they let themselves slide at great speed until they enter the water.

And if first-time tourists are content to walk away unscathed from a tail descent, the natives have achieved surprising levels of performance. Your limit is now your imagination.

Sitting or standing, upside down or up, alone or in a group, everything goes to stand out and impress the girls from Ribeirão.

Relax, Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil

Friends relax in the dark lagoon of Ribeirão do Meio

Meanwhile, in the valley above, the ultimate diamond fever resisters continue to try their luck. Some time ago, they still used destructive water pumps that, among other harms, accelerated the erosion of river beds.

Decades ago, experts came to the conclusion that extracting the remaining diamonds in Chapada was too expensive. This contributed to the fact that, in 1995, the federal government prohibited industrial prospecting, and authorized only the use of traditional means.

Behind the decision was also the fact that Lençóis, much more than its neighbors Andaraí, Palmeiras and Igatu, is the base for the tourist exploration of the Chapada Diamantina.

After a transitional phase in which the economy of Lençóis was based on the production of coffee and cassava, the welcoming of visitors now guarantees the livelihood of a large part of the population.

Passo do Lontra, Miranda, Brazil

The Flooded Brazil of Passo do Lontra

We are on the western edge of Mato Grosso do Sul but bush, on these sides, is something else. In an extension of almost 200.000 km2, the Brazil it appears partially submerged, by rivers, streams, lakes and other waters dispersed in vast alluvial plains. Not even the panting heat of the dry season drains the life and biodiversity of Pantanal places and farms like the one that welcomed us on the banks of the Miranda River.
manaus, Brazil

The Jumps and Starts of the former World Rubber Capital

From 1879 to 1912, only the Amazon River basin generated the latex that, from one moment to another, the world needed and, out of nowhere, Manaus became one of the most advanced cities on the face of the Earth. But an English explorer took the tree to Southeast Asia and ruined pioneer production. Manaus once again proved its elasticity. It is the largest city in the Amazon and the seventh in Brazil.
Kolmanskop, Namíbia

Generated by the Diamonds of Namibe, Abandoned to its Sands

It was the discovery of a bountiful diamond field in 1908 that gave rise to the foundation and surreal opulence of Kolmanskop. Less than 50 years later, gemstones have run out. The inhabitants left the village to the desert.
Curitiba, Brazil

The High-Quality Life of Curitiba

It is not only the altitude of almost 1000 meters at which the city is located. Cosmopolitan and multicultural, the capital of Paraná has a quality of life and human development rating that make it a unique case in Brazil.
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

The Swampy Freedom of Quilombo do Remanso

Runaway slaves have survived for centuries around a wetland in Chapada Diamantina. Today, the quilombo of Remanso is a symbol of their union and resistance, but also of the exclusion to which they were voted.
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

The Desired City

Many treasures passed through Cartagena before being handed over to the Spanish Crown - more so than the pirates who tried to plunder them. Today, the walls protect a majestic city always ready to "rumbear".
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

The Legacy of an Historic Shuttle

The founding of Colónia do Sacramento by the Portuguese generated recurrent conflicts with their spanish rivals. Until 1828, this fortified square, now sedative, changed sides again and again.
Goiás Velho, Brazil

A Gold Rush Legacy

Two centuries after the heyday of prospecting, lost in time and in the vastness of the Central Plateau, Goiás esteems its admirable colonial architecture, the surprising wealth that remains to be discovered there.
Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Gem-stone Bahia

Until the end of the century. In the XNUMXth century, Chapada Diamantina was a land of immeasurable prospecting and ambitions. Now that diamonds are rare, outsiders are eager to discover its plateaus and underground galleries
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

Born in Goiás, Ana Lins Bretas spent most of her life far from her castrating family and the city. Returning to its origins, it continued to portray the prejudiced mentality of the Brazilian countryside
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Treasures, Las Vegas, Nevada, City of Sin and Forgiveness
Architecture & Design
Las Vegas, USA

Where sin is always forgiven

Projected from the Mojave Desert like a neon mirage, the North American capital of gaming and entertainment is experienced as a gamble in the dark. Lush and addictive, Vegas neither learns nor regrets.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Newar celebration, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Ceremonies and Festivities
Bhaktapur, Nepal

The Nepalese Masks of Life

The Newar Indigenous People of the Kathmandu Valley attach great importance to the Hindu and Buddhist religiosity that unites them with each other and with the Earth. Accordingly, he blesses their rites of passage with newar dances of men masked as deities. Even if repeated long ago from birth to reincarnation, these ancestral dances do not elude modernity and begin to see an end.
Key West Wall, Florida Keys, United States
Key West, USA

The Tropical Wild West of the USA

We've come to the end of the Overseas Highway and the ultimate stronghold of propagandism Florida Keys. The continental United States here they surrender to a dazzling turquoise emerald marine vastness. And to a southern reverie fueled by a kind of Caribbean spell.
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Sun and coconut trees, São Nicolau, Cape Verde
São Nicolau, Cape Verde

São Nicolau: Pilgrimage to Terra di Sodade

Forced matches like those that inspired the famous morna “soda” made the pain of having to leave the islands of Cape Verde very strong. Discovering saninclau, between enchantment and wonder, we pursue the genesis of song and melancholy.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
Chefchouen to Merzouga, Morocco

Morocco from Top to Bottom

From the aniseed alleys of Chefchaouen to the first dunes of the Sahara, Morocco reveals the sharp contrasts of the first African lands, as Iberia has always seen in this vast Maghreb kingdom.
deep valley, terraced rice, batad, philippines
Batad, Philippines

The Terraces that Sustain the Philippines

Over 2000 years ago, inspired by their rice god, the Ifugao people tore apart the slopes of Luzon. The cereal that the indigenous people grow there still nourishes a significant part of the country.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
DMZ, South Korea, Line of no return
DMZ, Dora - South Korea

The Line of No Return

A nation and thousands of families were divided by the armistice in the Korean War. Today, as curious tourists visit the DMZ, many of the escapes of the oppressed North Koreans end in tragedy.
Elafonisi, Crete, Greece
Chania to Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

A Crete-style Beach Trip

Discovering the Cretan west, we left Chania, followed the Topolia gorge and less marked gorges. A few kilometers later, we reach a Mediterranean corner of watercolor and dream, that of the island of Elafonisi and its lagoon.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
Winter White
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Windward Side, Saba, Dutch Caribbean, Netherlands
Saba, The Netherlands

The Mysterious Dutch Queen of Saba

With a mere 13km2, Saba goes unnoticed even by the most traveled. Little by little, above and below its countless slopes, we unveil this luxuriant Little Antille, tropical border, mountainous and volcanic roof of the shallowest european nation.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Natural Parks
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Victoria Falls, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zambezi
UNESCO World Heritage
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwee

Livingstone's Thundering Gift

The explorer was looking for a route to the Indian Ocean when natives led him to a jump of the Zambezi River. The falls he found were so majestic that he decided to name them in honor of his queen
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Balo Beach Crete, Greece, Balos Island
balos a Seitan Limani, Crete, Greece

The Bathing Olympus of Chania

It's not just Chania, the centuries-old polis, steeped in Mediterranean history, in the far northeast of Crete that dazzles. Refreshing it and its residents and visitors, Balos, Stavros and Seitan have three of the most exuberant coastlines in Greece.

Detail of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam, India.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Back in the sun. San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs
On Rails
San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Cable Cars: A Life of Highs and Lows

A macabre wagon accident inspired the San Francisco cable car saga. Today, these relics work as a charm operation in the city of fog, but they also have their risks.
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Back to Danny Boyle's The Beach

It's been 15 years since the debut of the backpacker classic based on the novel by Alex Garland. The film popularized the places where it was shot. Shortly thereafter, the XNUMX tsunami literally washed some away off the map. Today, their controversial fame remains intact.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Crocodiles, Queensland Tropical Australia Wild
Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Australia

Tropical Queensland: An Australia Too Wild

Cyclones and floods are just the meteorological expression of Queensland's tropical harshness. When it's not the weather, it's the deadly fauna of the region that keeps its inhabitants on their toes.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.