The ABC of Maracangalha
1912 - The Maracangalha Farm became the Maracangalha Mill (and years later the Cinco Rios Mill).
1924 - 5th July - Besouro spent the night in Maracangalha (read more!).
1943 - The inauguration of the Maracangalha station.
1957 - Dorival Caymmi launched the disc Eu vou p'ra Maracangalha and the Maracangalha (listen above) making the place famous.
1978 - The Cinco Rios Mill was closed.
1995 - 11th February - the inauguration of the Dorival Caymmi Square.
2006 - 8th July - A plaque giving homage to Besouro was hung on the wall of Maracangalha's market house.
Besouro's last trip (blue)
Salvador > Maracangalha > Santo Amaro
Photo gallery (16/Nov/2016)
Revista Manchete, 2/Feb/1957
IN THE END, WHAT IS MARACANGALHA?
Inácio de Alencar's report
Domingos Cavalcanti's photos
In Dorival Caymmi's musical schedule, "Maracangalha" [launched earlier in 1957 - velhosmestres.com] will maybe be his biggest success, superseding "Marina", "O que é que a baiana tem?" and "Dora", because it's beating selling records all over the country. Brazil repeats this chorus: "I'm going to Maracangalha, I am". The carnival that is approaching will meet in the bahian's composition its rage. Consecrated, the [..] continues to integrate. The questions is in everyone's mouth, from Amazon to Rio Grande do Sul: "In the end, what is Maracangalha?".
The answer is easy. We encounter it 57 kilometers from Salvador. MANCHETE, today, from very first hand, tells and shows Maracangalha. The reporters were the first and (until now) the only journalists that collected the history at the source, living together with the old habitants of the place for a full day.
Even the main street of Maracangalha is humble, monotonous, sad, the crow of a rooster, the trotting of horses, give it, once in a while, a happier sound. And then everything returns to sadness.
MARACANGALHA IS NOTHING OF THE KIND: IT IS THE NAME OF A SAD TOWN, A SORT OF A DRY AND DESOLETE PASÁRGADA*
It's history is short and simple, with some picturesque passages. Sadly, nothing was written down and the oral tradition keot dissapearing, with the death of the black old men from the slavery times. Last year [1956 - velhosmestres.com], died the oldest person living in the place: the black Salomé, with around 110 to 120 years. Today, little is known about the colonial days of Maracangalha. Only one thing looks to be certain and is explained by any maracangalhense that treasures its land: the origin of the name.
In remote times, that no-one knows to specify, but which should have been around 200 years ago, in the beginning of the ancient mills, groups of gypsies camped there, constantly, during their travels around the backlands. When preparing the animals for the trips, the yelled at each-other: "Tie up the cangalha**". The black slaves caught the thing and went on to repeat the corrupted word to mock the gypsies. With the passing of times, the use rooted itself and Maracangalha entered into the geography of Brazil.
TO reach Maracangalha, there is only one sure way: the steam train [that was deactivated in 1978 - velhosmestres.com] of Leste Brasileiro. Automobile goes only to Candeias. From then on, the road is, practically, an open road in the bushes. With only very good will, when the land is quite dry, can one risk it with a jeep. It's also not very difficult to stay in the middle of the road.
Maracangalha, nowadays is a district of S. Sebastião do Passé. At first it belonged to the village of S. Francisco do Conde. It covers an area from 900 to a thousand hectares, with population of some 3 thousand souls. Its habitants live all in service (or for the reason) of the industry and planting of the sugar cane. Here is situated one of the biggest mills of the State, the Cinco Rios [1912 - 1987 - velhosmestres.com]. Its origin belongs to the old mill of the Maracangalha Farm (of which the town was born), and for some time it was also called the Maracangalha Mill.
The traditional name was disappearing
DESPITE being a district, the whole of Maracangalha belongs to the particulars, this is, to the Cinco Rios Mill. And this decided to condemn to death the old and beautiful name, that the gypsies, unknowningly, gave as a gift to Bahia. But lets go to the history, from the beginning.
There was the Maracangalha Farm, that gave the origin to the village and to a mill of the same name. In 1912, the farm was substituted for the mill, baptized as Cinco Rios, a name that came from another farm from around, property of the first owner of the mill.
The only thing that remained was the station of Leste Brasileiro, resisting heroically to the attacks of the renovators of bad taste. Finally, the station also gave in to the influence of the mill and, some time ago, they erased the traditional name, putting, in its place, that of Cinco Rios. The only reminder that one encounters is a marble plaque, noting the inauguration of the Maracangalha station, in 1943.
Caymmi appeared, however, as "Maracangalha's national hero". With this poetry, his refined sense of folk matters, he raised the old village up as an ideal place to live in, the real paradise in the land of Maracangalha caught fondness of the people and today there must be many [people] wanting to find an Anália, to go and see the hiding place that Caymmi with his samba, saved from death.
* Ancient Persian town in ruins
** A type of a construction allowing donkies to carry more weights
This square is calm during the whole week, but on Saturdays it gains movement: the market of Maracangalha
CAYMMI is the hero who is not familiar with the village that he revived. He was never there. That's why it was a huge surprise to the people of Maracangalha, when they heared about the samba. While the rest of Brazil was curious to know what was Maracangalha, its habitants wondered how the samba singer would find the quiet and forgotten village, whose name had been condemned to dissappear. The poor devil of a man knew well the "straw hat" and the "white suit".
Without having been to Maracangalha, the young man with white hair had in it one of the biggest inspirations of his artistic life. As a good poet that he is, his verses transformed Maracangalha into one of these mythical place, that we aspire to go to, the same of the family of Pasárgada by Manuel Bandeira. In reality, the existence there is peaceful, still with that likeable primitive sound. Everybody know one another and seek to help out, still free from the pitfalls of more advanced towns. Maracangalha, however, according to its oldest habitants, has already lost a lot of the taste and beauty, with the invasion of the machine.
But that does not matter, because there is no-one who could remove from the people's feeling this impression left by the verses of Caymmi. What is important now is to know how the inspiration of the samba was born in Caymmi, whitout him ever been to Maracangalha.
It has the origin in a curious fact, told by the poet of the beaches of Bahia, in a circle of friends, when, recently, he was in his old [home?]. He explained that, in the good times of bohemia in Salvador, he had a [..] friend, who, despite his modest resources, sustained [two wives?]. For this, he worked alot, selling a thousand and one [thing?] day and night, between one bottle of boose and another. As he did business
No Análias nor white suits, because there is a funeral in Maracangalha
IN MARACANGALHA PEOPLE ALSO DIE
with the people of Maracangalha, every time he wanted to spend some days with the second woman (both lived in Salvador), he told to the first: "I'm going to Maracangalha, woman".
The mayor will invite Caymmi to make the inaugurations
WHEN we stepped down from the Leste's train, a thin rain fell on the little town. The mud and the bogs pointed to a recent good shower. The first person we saw was the mayor of the municipality, who lives more in Maracangalha than in the head office: he holds the public functions as the mill's technician. We met him in boots and covered in clay, ready to go to S. Sebastião. Getting to know our mission, he stopped from going. As we felt it difficult to cross some muddy streches, he explained that, in a few days, he was going to start bigger improvements. When sitting in his guest room, tasting a legitimate cachaça, the man finally came out with the idea: he was thinking to invite Caymmi to inaugurate the works, an occasion when the singer of Maracangalha would be greatly honoured. The idea caught on and all of the village is livened with the visit of its hero.
Strange guys and brave people
MARACANGALHA is like any other inland small town, with the church, the school, the football field, a market and the main street. It's a pity we didn't encounter anything more from the colonial times. No building, no reminiscence. Even the mill owner's house, all renovated, doesn't help. It's around 70 years old. It's the oldest house. They explained us: the majority of buildings were made of straw and were substituted. From the old farm, there was nothing left. In its place, the mill was built.
The only thing to do for us was to talk to the oldest people living there. In the same way, their stories didn't go too far back in time. There are, however, some strange guys and the chronicles of brave people, of capoeira and candomblé. Because there used to be the centre of famous capoeira masters and holy-fathers, from whom the most separated stayed in Cassaracongo [5 km from Maracangalha - velhosmestres.com], a place where only the blackest people lived.
The oldest people of Maracangalha are famous. Bertolino Pereira de Lima, a dark mulatto, already 70 years old, is a novelist. He has never published a book. He only remembers the names of the four: "A Mysterious Glass", "The Life of Lindaura", "The Life of Marina" and "The Traveller". He was to come back with his writings, but never did and there is no way to reach him. Dionísio Barbosa Brandão, white, is 73 years old and is the manager of the mill. He was 17, when he saw the farm being turned into the mill.
The two great guys, however, are the blacks José Lúcio and Mestre Conrado, one 70 and the other 95 years old. They told us that, in the 30-s, Maracangalha became a battle field, to fight the "hired guns" of a famous colonel of hitmen from the bahian backlands. Both, in their youth, were tough as nails. José Lúcio is still a little black, which with all his age, puts a fear in any 20 year old boy. Mestre Conrado was a student of Comrade Onofre, the great capoeirista of the place.
They say little, not trusting our curiosity. After some time, they loosen their tongue. And with pride tell us about the death of the famous "Besouro", the most feared bahian capoeirista of all times, the king in Santo Amaro da Purificação: "He was stabbed here in Maracangalha, on a restless market day [Sunday, 6th July 1924 - velhosmestres.com]. His kingdom ended that day."
Who knows if Anália is not the same Amália?
That's how Maracangalha is, where we couldn't meet Anália. But we were told of an adventurous woman, who doesn't settle in anywhere. She is 50 [45 - velhosmestres.com] years old, today. Was, in her time, famous for the dance steps, a queen in the samba circles. They say that even now she is capable of great feats and, even for a thirty year old woman, [..] many heads turned. She is called Amália [Maria Amália da Cruz, 1911-1992 – velhosmestres.com] and there are, in Maracangalha [many people?] who believe her to be the Anália from Caymmi's samba.
Having revived Maracangalha, it's left for the composer to explain [..] her Anália is indeed Amália.