Photo diary: Olinda 10-20-12

October 27, 2012

Recife is the capital of the state of Pernambuco but, as the recent film Neighboring Sounds amply demonstrates, it’s not especially beautiful, despite some fine old architecture and lovely beaches. I was told that Olinda, the former capital and the first settlement by Portuguese explorers was much prettier and worth spending the day.

There are some beautiful architectural landmarks, such as the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo, which offers spectacular views of Olinda and Recife and the ocean

and ancient baobab trees

but mostly I found Olinda to be disappointingly touristy, all roads leading to tacky souvenir stands and the hilltop market where kids perform pale traces of Carnival dances so the gringos can snap pictures

the Brazilian kitsch on display in shops is pretty breathtaking — here is a character known as Novia de Neymar, the fiancee of a famous soccer star, refashioned as a dispenser for serving complimentary shots of cachaga

another popular novelty item, known as “cici de cabra” (pee from the goat)

our tour guide, Silvia, assured us that these caricatured depictions of Brasilieras were not offensive stereotypes

I wonder about that

I was more taken with the tradition in Olinda of brightly painted houses

not quite as abundant and saturated as the Italian island of Burano

but almost

photographer’s studio

essence of Olinda

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