Famous Foreigners in Bahia

Q: Who is the most famous foreigner to have “lived” in Bahia?

A: Robinson Crusoe. He was a plantation owner before setting out from the Baía de Todos os Santos, shipwrecking, and washing up on a desert island off the coast of Venezuela.

Robinson Crusoe in Bahia, Brazil From Chapter 4, wherein…

He Settles in the Brasils as a Planter — Makes Another Voyage and is Shipwrecked “We had a very good Voyage to the Brasils, and arriv’d in the Bay de Todos los Santos , or All-Saints Bay, in about Twenty-two Days after. And now I was once more deliver’d from the most miserable of all Conditions of Life, and what to do next with my self I was now to consider.” “To come then by the just Degrees, to the Particulars of this Part of my Story; you may suppose, that having now lived almost four Years in the Brasils, and beginning to thrive and prosper very well upon my Plantation; I had not only learn’d the Language, but had contracted Acquaintance and Friendship among my Fellow-Planters, as well as among the Merchants at St. Salvadore, which was our Port; and that in my Discourses among them, I had frequently given them an Account of my two Voyages to the Coast of Guinea, the manner of Trading with the Negroes there, and how easy it was to purchase upon the Coast, for Trifles, such as Beads, Toys, Knives, Scissars, Hatchets, bits of Glass, and the like; not only Gold Dust, Guinea Grains, Elephants Teeth, &c. but Negroes for the Service of the Brasils, in great Numbers.”

Q: Who is the most famous foreigner to have visited Bahia?

A: Some might say it was Michael Jackson, who was here in 1996 to record They Don’t Care About Us in Pelourinho with Olodum (Spike Lee was here together with Michael, directing the the video for Michael’s song), Michael perhaps edging out Paul Simon, who was here in 1990 to record, also with Olodum.

David Byrne has been here a number of times (he directed a documentary about bloco afro Ilê Aiyê), and I once saw Sting leaning on a building watching Filho de Gandhy turbans being stitched together on members’ heads in front of the Gandhy headquarters where I’d just had mine done. (I didn’t recognize him, his hair not being blond and spiky anymore. People were walking up to this guy and shaking his hand, and so I figured he was probably a famous novela (evening soap opera) actor from the south of Brazil. Curious, I went up to say hello too, asking if he was an actor, and the good fellow replied in Portuguese “Eu sou músico”. Still in the dark, and not wanting to insult the gentleman by asking who the hell he was, I said simply “É um prazer em conhecé-lo!” (Pleasure to meet you!) and shook his hand. He was very nice about it, and it was only some time later that I saw a current photo online and realized who the mystery man had been.)

Anyway… Expanding our time frame considerably, and with all due respect to the gentlemen above and numerous others who I haven’t mentioned (hello Quincy Jones?), I feel the honor must go to Charles Darwin, who landed in the Baía de Todos os Santos with the Beagle on February 28th, 1832.

Charles Darwin in Bahia, Brazil
You didn’t see me at Porto da Barra…