By Ricardo Freire
Mix the Northeast with the Amazon, France with Portugal, bumba-meu-boi with reggae, and guaraná with Jesus, and the result will be an absolutely unique city.
Founded by French conquerors, São Luís was quickly conquered back by the Portuguese, who left their legacy in the mansions with tile façades that can be seen downtown. African culture is as deep rooted as in Bahia; the candomblé religion is called “tambor-de-mina.” Reggae fell into the natives’ graces, with songs sung in gibberish and danced extremely close, like in forró. Even the guaraná there is original: pink and with a strong cinnamon flavor; it is called Jesus.
Keep getting to know the Lençóis Maranhenses and you will find another unique blend: interminable dunes, punctuated by crystalline lakes and surrounded by Amazonian vegetation.