Project info

Spinolas from Caroba and the high dry Bahia way of life

In just a few words, the Spinola family has its origin in the city of Genova, Italy. A part migrated to Portugal, Madeira Island and then to Brazil, right after our ‘discovery’ by Europeans. By the third generation here, around 1840, they bought a large piece of land in the high dried backlands of Bahia, which they named as ‘Caroba’. There they cultivated sugar cane and raised cattle with the help of slaves. The family mixed up with these slaves, increased growth, more houses were built and the land was being divided and diminished, and the difficulties of cultivation and creation were also increasing. Generations have passed and only around 1900 that my great-grandmother Benigna with some brothers and relatives moved to São Paulo lands therefore definitely changing the culture of later generations, the so much that here were born and raised in a completely different reality from the origins, including me.

The proposed work has it’s focus on this personal family-rescue, exploring the way of life in the extremely dry region of Brazilian Northeast, showing some of the people and places in the region of Caroba. They live a simple life and even with all the improvement and help that came with progress (such as water cisterns for example), they still live in difficulty. A short time ago they were self-sufficient and today are increasingly dependent on the city and development. In their eyes we see purity and solidarity, naivety and also a deep sadness.

Main characters: I stayed in ‘The Big House’, home of the brother Chico and Kilu, my fourth degree cousins. Chico (Francisco, 86 years) has not yet married, while Kilu (Jaquelina, 90 years) was recently married,

about six years ago with Piu, who also lives in the Big House. There were also staying there Rose and Uncle Luiz. She is niece of Chico and Kilu, lives closeby in Caetité and was there in those days to help them with our stay. Uncle Luiz is one of 6 of my father’s brothers and was the one who inspired me and who began to reconnect with our family from Bahia.

I got to know (and with some got close contact) the rest of the family. Currently there are 14 spinolas houses in Caroba. I saw pictures of my ancestors, understood who they were, heard many stories and have seen, lived, felt and learned some of the values ​​and culture that reference had slipped away from my family.