CW’s Brazil: Royal Route, Salvador, and Chapada Diamantina trip has a staggering number of highlights to recommend it—from baroque villages and historic opera houses deep in the jungle to hidden waterfalls and lush botanical gardens. No wonder National Geographic Traveler just listed it as one of their “50 Tours of a Lifetime!” Still, the element of this adventure that excites me the most is one that’s easy to overlook. For two nights and three days in the middle of this trip, you stay in the vibrant city of Salvador. And while Salvador is renowned for a great many things, my favorite of them is Tropicália.
Tropicália is a style of music started in the 1960’s by teens in Salvador. Though under-recognized outside of Brazil, it has been phenomenally influential on everyone from Paul Simon to the Talking Heads and was seen as so revolutionary in its day that its proponents were thrown in prison and even exiled from Brazil. Now, it is considered an essential piece of Brazil’s artistic identity and Salvador, its birthplace, is considered the country’s cultural capital.
Sonically, Tropicália is like Brazil itself: a blend of influences simultaneously European, African, and Native American—with a heavy sprinkling of North American pop as well. In its heyday, it combined live music with theatre, poetry, and the bright colors of 60’s era pop art to create a psychedelic and sophisticated experience. Its songs range from plaintive and soulful ballads influenced by bossa nova to infectious rock and roll heavily influenced by the Beatles. For example, check out this catchy song by the band Os Mutantes:
A Minha Menina by Jorge Bem
Perhaps the two most renowned proponents of Tropicália were the musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, who met in Salvador while in college and instantly became close friends and collaborators. Together, they put out an album in 1968 that collected the work of a number of their cohorts and served to greatly expand the music style’s popularity. Their brash, fresh sound and political lyrics—they were highly critical of the military government that had come to power in 1964—became a national craze and soon they had regular spots on a television show called Divina Maravilhoso and a slew of hit songs.
Batmacumba by Gilberto Gil
Leaozinho by Caetano Veloso
However, all of this popularity didn’t sit well with the censors in the military government and, in 1969, a number of Tropicália musicians including Gil and Veloso were rounded up and thrown in prison. Many were tortured and even confined to mental institutions. Eventually, Veloso and Gil were forced to leave the country and moved to London, where they continued writing music in exile.
London London by Caetano Veloso
Their story has a happy ending, however. After four years, Gil and Veloso were able to return to their homes in Salvador, where they redoubled their advocacy work. Eventually, Gil went into politics and held elected office. In 2003 he was appointed Minister of Culture for Brazil. He was only the second person of color ever to serve in the country’s cabinet. Veloso, for his part, still tours internationally, has won 11 Latin Grammees, and in 2012, was voted the “Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.”
Today, Tropicália’s influence can be heard everywhere from American pop (the Talking Heads regularly credited the movement as being formative for them) to the streets of Salvador, where a new generation plays this distinctly Brazilian brand of music. You can hear all manners of Brazilian music—including a live Samba performance, on our Royal Route, Salvador, and Chapada Diamantina trip.
Baby by Gal Costa
To many, the idea of taking time off from work to do exactly what you do in your day job might seem a bit...nuts. But when you’re a guide for CW, that prospect becomes a lot more appealing. And if that trip is free? Well, all the better. Our innovative CW Guide Trip Program allows our many intrepid trip leaders to enjoy a bit of R&R while experiencing a bit of the world they haven’t seen before. Guides like Ruth Hackney (who some might know from our Scotland: Isle of Skye trip), love having the opportunity to rack up some new experiences while seeing how their peers operate. “It’s great to get the chance to stand back and see how guests respond to the guides,” says Ruth, who joined the Peru: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley trip last year. Italy Guide Christopher Wellington (famed among our guests for leading the Cinque Terre, Piedmont, and The Lakes trips) agrees: “you learn how each guide—in very different ways depending on their personality and knowledge—gives so much time and attention to the guests.”
Of course, sometimes, it’s great just to be a guest yourself: “My favorite part was just hiking through farmland with the Andes in the background,” Ruth tells us. “We ate lunch al fresco beside a field where farmers were hand threshing their grain. It was lovely!”
This year, three of our guides will take advantage of this phenomenal program. Those interested in joining them are welcome to do so. Next month, Spanish guide Joserra Combarra—who leads our Spain: Basque Country trip--will explore Sicily starting on April 21st. From July 7-13th, beloved Peruvian guide Juan Carlos Yanez (who leads the Peru trip that made such an impression on Ruth Hackney) will join our Italy: Cinque Terre trip. Finally, on July 24, Francesca Assandri, who usually guides in Italy, will join our Iceland Guided Walking trip.
Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about any of these departures!More>
As a father and a world traveler, here’s what I’ve learned: there’s no better time than now to make memories that last a lifetime. Gather your family and experience the world—ride a zip line, raft a river, bike along an old canal towpath. A family vacation is a great way to bond; I know I’ll always cherish my family’s time exploring together—it’s amazing how different generations can draw out the magic in each other.
That’s why I’m so excited to share CW’s new line of Family Adventures with you. Each packs in a photo-album’s worth of active experiences, in destinations you’ll never forget. The people who matter to you—be they children, parents, grandparents, siblings, or close family friends—are often your ideal travel group. Make the most of it.
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