Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vibrant Salvador with lots of Police

After spending two nights riding buses, I arrived in Salvador. I took the local A/C bus into town from the bus station--Rodovaria--just as the LP guide described. I was glad it was air conditioned, because it was now hot and muggy. Instead of going straight downtown we instead ran all along the coastline through a very scenic area called Barra. I would return to visit this area the following day.

As soon as I got off the bus near the Praca de Se which is in the historical part of town called Pelourihino, some Brazilian tourists came up to me to warn me to carefully watch all of my stuff because of the thieves and pickpockets that work the area. They walked me to my Galeria 13 Hostel that was just town a steep cobbled street from the San Francisco Church.

The crowds were huge here on Sunday because of the big May Day holiday. Musicians were playing at small venues like this cafe near the hostel.

Up near the Terreiro de Jesus square, this one restaurant was livening up the entire square and people all around were dancing to the beat.

Earlier in the evening, they had a concert where over 100,000 people attended and the Hostel staff recommended that if we were to go, we should only take enough change to buy food and refreshments and to leave everything else behind because of pickpockets and robberies.

This was born out the following morning when a German woman, said that she and her friend were held up by a group of three guys and one of them put a knife to her throat. They went to the concert with no problem other than massive crowding. But then when they continued clubbing until 2AM, they ran into the robbers. She and her friend escaped by throwing them a plastic bag of Ganga and running like the wind.

In the squares and streets around the Pelourinho area where all of the clubs, restaurants, art galleries, and gift shops are, they have very bright street lights and heavy police patrols every half block. The police were never alone, but rather usually in groups of four. That kind of tells you the potential for danger in this area as well in the other tourist area, the Barra. Here is a typical group of four foot patrol police in the Barra area.

A short bus ride got me to the Barra neighborhood where some beautiful beaches string along for miles and are interspersed by some historical buildings that recall the long history of the Portuguese explorers and settlers beginning in the mid 1500s. Along with that, the slave trade began to provide laborers for the sugarcane export business. The influence of African cultures is apparent in the foods, music, art, and some customs that you see today. The working lighthouse is in the background of one of the beach areas.

View toward the Santa Maria Fort

The tourist shops take advantage of the Afro-Brasilerio arts and crafts by dressing up women to draw in customers to their gift stores. I couldn't help getting sucked in by this pleasant huckster. She is standing in front of the San Francisco Church with a doll I bought from her. The doll has two different bodies to it. The one she is holding is a peasant dress and if you flip the dress over the head, it is another doll with a white wedding dress--guess who gets this gift?

The woman then got a street vendor to take my picture with her so of course I did. Then I bought some trinkets from the street vendor as well. My little way of helping the local economy. I sure hope I don't find a little sticker that says "Made in China". This time the doll shows the wedding dress.

Here is the street vendor who is wearing the necklaces I bought from her.

It's now time for another night bus ride to Recife---as LP guide says it is pronounced "heh-see-fee"

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