Sunday, June 1, 2008

On to Salvador, Bahia ― Brazil’s First Capital

By Renée Ferguson, Senior Direct Mail Associate for Christian Children’s Fund

This morning we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and checked out of the hotel for our trip to the airport. A few CCF Fortaleza staff and our tour guide, Gleisa, joined us for the bus ride.

Smiling, yet fighting back tears, Gleisa spoke on behalf of the children and the staff. Her voice broke as she shared her deep and abiding gratitude for the compassion that sponsors of children in Brazil regularly demonstrate through their donations.

She reminded the sponsors that their generosity and kindness amount to much more than a mere “drop in the bucket.” Our 17 drops combine exponentially with the efforts of hundreds of thousands of sponsors and donors who make a difference in the lives of the children in all parts of the world where CCF works.

She talked about the great impact our visit had made, demonstrating to the children that their sponsors cared enough about their well-being to travel all the way to Brazil just to see them.

The rest of the bus ride was quiet as members of the group gazed through their tears at the scenery outside the window ... silently saying goodbye to beautiful Fortaleza.

The relatively uneventful afternoon flight provided a welcome, restful couple of hours ― until we unexpectedly had to change planes during a stop in Recife, walking from the tarmac to the building during a rain shower!

We boarded the new plane to continue on to Salvador International Airport, arriving around 4:00. We gathered our luggage and headed to the Pestana Bahia Hotel. The hotel’s ocean view was breathtaking -- its rough surf pounding the rocky shores. The view from my window appeared as though I was looking out of the window of a mighty cruise ship.

After a couple of hours relaxing we met in the hotel restaurant where we enjoyed dinner outdoors under a large covered dining area. The sounds of the ocean lulled us into a relaxed mood while we tasted a variety of dishes from the aromatic and colorful buffet of Bahian cuisine.

Highly prized by the rest of Brazil, the state of Bahia’s distinctive, soulful cuisine is influenced by a virtual melting pot of African, Indian and Portuguese traditions. Seafood, coconut oil, malagueta chili peppers, and dendê, a bright orange palm oil, are the main ingredients found in many Bahian dishes. The dinner tonight was a delicious introduction to this tantalizing gastronomy.

The evening ended with a walk around the corner to a pharmacy for bottled water. On the way back we relished the fresh ocean breeze and the sounds of the surf before parting for the night.

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