February 12, 2007
I spent much of today walking around the old part of town. Sao Luis is the only city in Brazil that was founded by France, but overseas support from the motherland was low and the French had to flee from the Portuguese after only one generation. The city was used as a slave market with blacks and Indians being traded openly in the streets until the 19th century. The city didn't have much industry after slavery was abolished, and the entire place slowly went into decay, but the culture of freed slaves remained. What is now the old part of the city was declared a UNESCO heritage site in the late 1980's, and since then, over 200 buildings have been restored.
Wandering the streets was a great experience. Their narrowness was a throwback to the days before cars, and they still maintained their old colonial charm. The people in the area were mainly descendants of the slaves who used to be traded there. The area was poor but safe to walk through with a friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately, the main tourist sites were still closed because it was a Monday, so I'll have to stay in the area for another day.
The photo album for this entry is here.