I don’t know why but, of all our Brazilian destinations, I’d got it into my head that I was going to love Salvador. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. After our 4am arrival our hostel (Galleria 13) did an amazing breakfast right up until midday. Anyone who knows me would know Salvador was already onto a winner.
Salvador is dubbed the African soul of Brazil. The two different cultures have mixed together, within the colonial buildings, to create a relatively unique blend which is reflected in their dance, music and religion. We were staying in the middle of the Pelourinho, the historic centre, full of different colored colonial buildings, reminding me of the neighbourhood in Edward Scissorhands.
Salvador comes with a warning, it may have a unique energy, but it is very poor. If you are going to be mugged in Brazil, it will most likely be here. The poverty had been clear from our night-time taxi into the city, and we were on our guard. One of our group even saw a ten year old take the R2 (50p) he had begged for food and openly buy crack on the main square. This wasn’t even uncommon. Despite this we stayed in Salvador a full three days, giving us time to relax after the epic journey to get there, a day to take a city tour, and a day to head down to Barra beach. We’d also get to catch Super Tuesday. Like Super Sunday, but held every week on a Tuesday. More on that later.
Our walking tour was led by a very dramatic local called Luiz. He took us all over the Pelo showing us the main sights and pointing out places we couldn’t go unchaperoned. We started at Igreja São Francisco (we saw the inside the next day and it was beautiful), walked through Terreiro de Jesus (the main square), through Pç da Sé, saw an amazing view over the lower part of the city and port, and through to Pç Municipal where the Elevador Lacerda connects the two parts of the city.
After that we visited Largo do Pelourinho, where slaves used to be auctioned and MJ filmed the video for “They Don’t Really Care About Us”.
To end the tour we had drinks (and ice cream!) at Cafélìer, worth it just for this breathtaking view. The whole afternoon was really interesting, and well worth the R10 or £2.50 we paid.
We’d met a lot of people at the hostel, all adopting mine and Liam’s bad habit of naming people by where they come from. It’s easier, and gives you time to learn their real names. During our stay we met Oregon, Swiss-Germany, London, Boy and Girl Melbourne, Holland and Israel, Germany, and Chile, just to name a few.
The hostel ran a happy hour from 5.15-6.15pm each afternoon during which they served free, rather potent, Caipirinhas. This was clearly an amazing idea, but on an empty stomach could prove quite lethal. As Liam demonstrated on day two. We’d come back from our walking tour and were taking happy hour in the pool with Oregon and Swiss-Germany. I won’t go into detail but suffice to say I have never seen Liam in that state, we were kicked out of the pool, and he was asleep by 8.30pm whist the rest of us went out to celebrate Oregon’s birthday. Who enjoyed his day so much he was sick in the street, and renamed “Spewy” by Girl Melbourne.
It wasn’t even Super Tuesday yet.
The next day was spent, recovering by some, down at Barra, which is pronounced Baha and just took me back to underage club nights with a beach theme. We pitched up on Praia do Porto and enjoyed our first swim in the Atlantic Ocean, before heading back for happy hour.
So Super Tuesday involves dancing samba to African drums all over the Pelo, and cheap beers. There were street parties on all corners, prostitutes dancing, bands in little alleyways, stages wherever there was room, and an overwhelming smell of weed. The latter being occasionally followed up by the heavy police presence, who seemed to be more there for show than to protect anyone. We had a big enough group to never be alone, even when fractions split off and came back together when different parties ended.
We might have missed Carnival but I guess we got a small taster before we headed off the next day to the islands.