Boxing Day in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Salvador is a colorful city on the northeastern coast of Brazil, with a splashy mix of Portuguese architecture and African culture dominating the local aesthetic. I ventured out with a friend beyond the comfortable confines of Pelourinho into some of the less-touristy areas, in search of art and architecture beyond the postcard versions.

Our adventures led us down a slanted elevator, into some questionable neighborhoods, through a park or two, and into close encounters with heavily armed (but friendly) local police. Vibrant murals adorned the crumbling edifices, with colorful illustrations of everyday life in Bahia (such as one of a  guy munching the famous street food of Salvador, acarajé). Other pieces verged on the sublime, like the thoughtfully placed angelic figures painted by renowned local artist, Limpo.

Artists also offered original canvases on the street for more than reasonable prices, where they lean the paintings up against architectural marvels outside on the stone-cobbled streets. Hand painted tiles occasionally dot a staircase or entryway, usually adorning one of the rainbow-hued colonial homes on the narrow side streets of the central city.

Salvador manages to juxtapose seemingly disparate colors and cultures into a unique local melange, continuously reinventing its own aesthetic narrative as time both erodes and enhances the city.