Salvador is in the State of Bahia, which is known for its laid back attitude, parties, music, caporeira (dancing martial art) and unique cuisine. Moving North from Rio, the population becomes noticably more dark skinned (over 80% of Salvador has African heritage), and we stood out even more. Salvador was meant to just be a stop on the way to the next destination, 7 hours South by bus.
We happened to be there for Independence Day, so we headed to the Pelourinho in the Old City to watch the festivities. The old City (cidade alta) is located almost 300 feet above the New City (Cidade baixa), and the two are connected by a large elevator.
The upper city is where it is at, with 17th century Colonial architecture, gallerys, and restaurants. The lower city (what we saw of it) was relatively seedy. Honolulu Chinatown seedy. South Loop Chicago seedy. With moneybelts well hidden and hands firmly on the camera bag, we headed into the crowds.
The cobblestone streets were filled with people playing music, eating and drinking. Booths sold 10 different flavors of moonshine by the shots (they were actually very good). As the sun started to near the horizon, we realized we better head back to our safe little beach neighborhood. The roads were all closed from the parties, and we needed to find a taxi or bus. Stepping around the occasional passed out drunk and the occasional junkie, a little lost, a little worried, we made it out of the party and into a taxi.
At the beach, the famed Claudia Leite, a Axe (pronounced ah-shay) superstar (looks like an older Brittney) was giving a free Concert, so much to our dismay, we were not done with the crazy crowds.
We checked the show out from afar, then caught our bus to Itacare.
It will be in Salvador. So says lonely planet.