Luciano had invited me on a trip to the northeast to get to know more of Brazil. Our travels in the Northeast began in the tiny town of Aporá, roughly 200 kilometers (124 mi) from Salvador. This was the Bahian interior--relatively flat, agriculturally abundant, and more than a 40 minutes drive to the coast (which by Carioca standards is far).
Despite being a particularly sleepy town--one friend of our host was absolutely shocked to learn that someone from the US had decided to step foot in Aporá--some of the first things you see upon entering are several murals with quotes from what seem to be afoxés, music derived from the Afro-Brazilian religious practices of Candomblé, denouncing racism and affirming a sense of black pride. The Northwest region, and the state of Bahia in particular, is often regarded as the center of Afro-Brazilian culture and political activism, and afoxé and carnival often serve as mediums through which black Brazilians challenge the idea of Brazilian racial democracy.
As is probably apt, the last major site we visited in the Northeast was the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (literally The Church of our Lord of "good ending"). Traditionally people tie colorful ribbons to the church and say a prayer. While one shouldn't say aloud what they prayed for, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the ribbons expressed hopes to someday return to Bahia.