Terrorised teacher in Salvador

Trip Start Feb 06, 2007
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Ilheus

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday November 7th, Salvador
Salvador bus station is right on the ball. The tourist office speaks English, they sell decent cheap coffee, and a bus to the old city centre at Pelourinho is reached by a spaghetti of pedestrian bridges. Big packs on Brazilian busses are a bit of a nuisance as they have a turnstile through which one has to squeeze through.We rejected the first hotel, too expensive, and took a run-down room in this rundown hotel, Hotel Ilheus, where the owner is very friendly.   It is 5 minutes from the main plazas and 5 minutes from the bus. One of the HI hostels costs 90R so ours at 50R is a bargain. They have an assortment of books in English too.
We ate an early lunch at a by-the-kilo place then spent the afternoon exploring. There are lots of narrow pedestrian streets in the Unesco-heritage place, myriad shops trying to part you from your money, and street sellers pushing ribbons, dolls, restaurant cards and everything you can imagine under your noses. But they are not anything like so aggressive as they were in Cuzco, it is all pretty good-natured. We visited another 2 churches (and have now sworn off churches). Sao Francisco had magnificent tiled walls with pictures of the invading fleet arriving, street scenes with carriages, and the poor looking on. Not bad value. Then we tried the cathedral, which was not very inspiring, but only cost 2R.  
Pelourinho is divided by a cliff, half the city is on top, half at sea level. Joining the two are a lift and a funicular railway. For 5 cents the swish lift whizzes you up and down the cliff. Apparently it transports 50,000 people a day. At the bottom is the Mercado Modelo, the original customs house. When shipments of new slaves arrived at the port they were kept in the dungeons, standing in 6 inches of water, till auctioned off. 5 minutes incarceration here would be enough to send most people round the bend, even if the floor were dry. It is amazing that this trading in slaves has only come to an end in recent times. We are glad that we were not indigenous people living in Africa, South America or Australia in these days of empire building by the Colonialists.
Salvador is a place of cultural events. We picked out a 'spectacular' at a theatre, but when we arrived there the man at the door was most reluctant to let us in. We won (and it was free) and watched a very entertaining and professional performance by young actors, with the theme of 2 rival groups of teenagers terrorising their teachers. The crowd, of mostly teenagers, absolutely loved it all, very noisily. No matter it was in Portuguese, you didn't have to be a genius to work out the plots.
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