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Conclusions Cracks in the Wall: Invocations of the-rest-of-what-is in the Anthropological Study of World-Making

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2021

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Summary

One day, when we were returning from the village where Victor grew up, he told me to leave the BR-342, the highway that connects Salvador with the Bahian hinterland. Behind those hills, he said, pointing at a ridge of green hills to the left of the road, lies O Milagre de São Roque – the Miracle of Saint Rochus. It was a place where his madrinha used to take him when he was a small boy. Usually they would go there on foot, all the way from Amélia Rodrigues, to fetch holy water from a spring. Yet sometimes his madrinha – who was a mãe-de-santo – would organize a pick-up truck to take all of her initiates at once.

‘I’m sure it is the kind of place you like,’ Victor reassured me as I found myself cursing while trying to get off the BR-342 with its racing traffic. There had been no sign to indicate the exit. Worse: there was no exit to the pot-holed dirt road he had wanted me to take.

We passed some ramshackle dwellings, and a group of sugarcane cutters taking a break at the roadside, basking in the late afternoon sun. We drove past endless meadows, and the listless gazes of white cows. And then we headed in the direction of the wooded hills.

‘It has been a long time,’ Victor said. ‘But I think that this is where it is.

’ On one of the hills stood a small, whitewashed chapel. Around it some wooden shacks, closed. Signboards indicated ‘drinks for sale’, but there was no one to be seen. Victor explained that every August there was a big pilgrimage to this place. And on Sundays too, groups of pilgrims would make it over here.

We parked the car and I followed Victor down a path that led into a valley.

The Miracle of Saint Rochus turned out to be a truly enchanting place. The wild profusion of plants and trees of the tropical forest – all imaginable forms and all imaginable shades of green – had receded to form an open space. Right in the middle of this clearing stood two monumental bushes of bamboo. They seemed to be moaning and groaning as the wind caused their gigantic poles to rub against each other.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ecstatic Encounters
Bahian Candomblé and the Quest for the Really Real
, pp. 249 - 262
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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