Brazil boasts some of South America's most wildly beautiful stretches of beaches, but if you had to pick an area to be stranded in, it would have to be Bahia. If Rio de Janeiro, further to the south, feels like the Brazilian juiced-up, louche version of Hong Kong, then Bahia is its Bali.
The Portuguese sailed in about 500 years ago, set anchor and then proceeded, it seems, to fall under its spell. How else do you explain how, today, there are still vast swathes of pristine waters and powder white beaches? Yes, there are tourists aplenty -- sun-kissed and lithe limbed cariocas included -- all lured here by Bahia's intoxicating mix of music, art, cuisine and laid-back lifestyle. And yes, there are just as many Florida-styled waterfront apartments.
But as this collection of photographs of Bahian homes shows, there are still a great many spots where it seems as if nothing has changed in 500 years. Equally clear, it's the architecture that is probably Bahia's most unlikely and charming attraction. Reflecting the same melting pot of indigenous, Portuguese and African flavours that influences its music and food, the architecture is unique in its breezy floor plans and use of natural materials.
The sunlit shots range from a treehouse by sculptor Frans Krajcberg and an apartment with wraparound views of Brazil's largest bay, Baia de Todos os Santos in Salvador to an experimental house with a bamboo roof and a simple wooden house atop a cliff overlooking Espelho das Maravilhas beach.
Cannily, the editor (the redoubtable Angelika Taschen) has kept Bahian journalist Mônica Lima's text to a minimum -- captions, really -- allowing photographer Tuca Reinés's images of life in paradise to do all the talking.