Brazil: Amazon and Salvador da Bahia
The Amazon. Salvador da Bahia, Soul of Afro-Brazilian
With nine Portuguese lessons with my Pimsleur language lesson CDs under my belt, I was ready for Brazil. With stunning clarity, I could ask "A senhora onde fica Hotel Flamingo?" Lisa had gotten through sixteen lessons. She hadn't been so obsessed with the Lakers Finals.
But although helpful, if I hadn't known some Spanish, we would have been floundering. And in Salvador, we may not have understood the 3-4 warnings per day we received, telling us not to go down this street, never to go there after dark, watch your bag here. Not idle warnings, they were specific and consistent, with many neighborhoods deemed unsafe.
And I had heard these warnings from people online. And from the Lonely Planet guidebook to Brazil: "Salvador has a reputation for theft and muggings, and tourists clearly make easy targets. Dress down, take only enough money with you for your outing, carry only a photocopy of your passport, and don't carry a camera outside Pelourinho," they wrote, mentioning Salvador's "jobless, homeless hungry, abandoned and sick."
Growing concerned, I purchased a Leica D-Lux 4 compact camera to slip in my pocket instead of carrying the larger Nikon D50 DSLR in a camera bag. The few times I took my camera bag, I was an immediate target. At night, someone tried unzipping the bag. Another day, two guys worked as a team to try and snatch my bag on a busy street during the day. I thought I'd use the Leica occasionally; I used it almost everywhere.
Salvador has so much going for it. It's bursting at the seams with vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, music, food, festivals, and Candomblé ceremonies. Capoeira and Axé dances. I can't think of another city that is pulsing with more music. And everywhere, sweet helpful people, people who would come over and help you, people who were friendly and patient. We loved Salvador. We'd like to return, maybe for the Navegação Festival. But when we do, I will not be walking around with a camera bag.
As for the Amazon, Lisa and I anticipated enjoying it, but it exceeded our expectations. It was more beautiful than we had hoped for. We were enthralled by the animals, the plants, the canoe rides, the fruit and the fish, the people, the rivers, the trees and the sky. Magnificent.
Brazil: Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
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