First impression: dirty
Overall impression: not a city that I would want to go back to but I'm really glad for the experience
Day 1: February 1st, 2006 Walking tour of historic Salvador and welcome reception
Day 2: February 2nd, 2006 Yamanja Festival
Day 3: February 3rd, 2006 Free Day
Day 4: February 4th, 2006 Itapartica Island
Day 5: February 5th, 2006 Futbol match
We docked at approximately 8am in the porto
. Around 9:30 we all started going through customs which wasn't nearly as bad as a lot of people thought it was going to be. By the time everyone was cleared through customs it was 11:30 and having a walking tour at one I decided to stay on the boat and update my blog instead of waiting in line to get off and then just getting back on. After being online for a while we all met for the walking tour and I opted to be in Chris's group(our conduct officer, former policeman and bodyguard). My first impression of Salvador when we actually got off the boat was that it had that big city dirty feeling much like the streets under Michigan ave. in Chicago. We were instantly surrounded by people trying to sell us things and checking out what we had on us. At one point in the trip I was cornered by an old man who kept yelling at me and trying to grab me. Right at the point where I was starting to freak out the tour body guard came and threw the man to the ground yelling at him in Portuguese. He then proceeded to stand infront of me with his arms crossed fully blocking my view of the tour but offering a full protection that I appreciated. The city tour was a little over 3 hours and ended up giving me a pretty good idea of where to find everything in the old city which is the part of the city that is at the top of the hill. (it's a really complicated city and I need visual aids to fully explain it) At the top of the old city we toured a church that was made for the elite of the city. Their churches weren't originally suppose to be very ornate but this church had tons of gold and wood carvings due to the vast supply of gold and wood they were able to get away with it
. Many of those on the tour were incredibly impressed with how beautiful the church was although I think that the church was a little bit overdone. I prefer the more simple cathedrals. After we finally got back to the ship I only had a while to take a shower and get ready for the welcome reception which was held at a local university in Brazil. Katina and I decided to meet up to go to the welcome reception and then ended up running into my lab partner, Andrew, who also joined our group. Since we were early we were the first ones to get on a bus and the first to arrive at the reception. Once we got there we were a little confused as to what to do since none of the students spoke any English and didn't seem to understand Spanish. Finally we started trying the different dishes and sat down at a table in the court yard. It was a beautiful courtyard with white stones and tropical plants all around. Once all of the SASers arrived the band came and started playing and there was a capallara demonstration. Then they began asking for volunteers to try this fight dancing. It was so much fun. Jane and Jeff both got volunteered to go up and "fight" with them. (don't worry I got it on video) Once everyone was done trying out capallara another local band, composed mostly of drums came out and played music for us all to dance to. It was amazing. They were so talented and everyone was having so much fun. After they left they just had a dj that played a bunch of Brazilian music and everyone got into huge groups and started dancing
. Basically the place turned into a dance club in a matter of minutes with the entire faculty watching from the tables. It was so much fun. Several of the Brazilian students then came out and began to dance with all of us. Unfortunately nobody warned us of how Brazilians act on any given occasion. One moment you're just dancing and the next they tell you how beautiful you are and that they want to kiss you, and they do. You have no choice in the matter they just basically attack you with their tongue. I have to say though that after getting over the shock of random makeout sessions around the party I really started to enjoy my version of dancing. Katina decided that she wanted to call it an early night though so we ended up leaving around 10:30. It was probably a good thing because I was probably embarrassing myself.
Day 2: So at this point I had decided that I would get up early so that I could have breakfast and then go to meet my group at 7am. This made me get about 5 hours or less of sleep but I was ok with that. Unfortunately in my disoriented state I couldn't find breakfast, so I thought they had quit serving it, but in reality it was in the other dining room. The good news was that I was incredibly early for my meeting then. Once we got to the actual festival I was really confused. I was expecting this deserted island out in the middle of the ocean on a white sand beach with a bunch of men and women dressed in traditional tribal wear throwing flowers and chanting. Instead we went to this downtown area surrounded by favellas (projects of sorts) where there were thousands of people in a carnival type of atmosphere. There were tons of people on the streets selling drinks, flowers, jewelry, and tons of other random stuff. It was so weird. Once we got to the beach there were tons of people making baskets full of flowers to sacrifice and there were a lot of odors from all the people around. While standing at the lookout where the flowers were I met a little boy named Vito who allowed me to take his picture
. He was really cute and we talked in a mixture of me speaking Spanish and him replying in Portuguese. After I took his picture he followed me around and became almost like one of our group. When we went on to the actual beach we were allowed to watch the women join in circles and dance around the flowers throwing incense on them and bringing spirits out of each other. That seemed like a real taste of the culture. That part I really enjoyed and made the whole experience much more pleasurable. After our ride back to the bus I enjoyed taking a nap before heading out to the market place with Stephanie. We ended up walking around for quite a while and we found some really awesome shops. We also met several of the men on the street selling jewelry and since I stopped and talked to them they gave us bracelets and necklaces for free. I really enjoyed talking to them and the one I was talking to knew some Spanish and some English so we ended up having a decent conversation. Afterwards steph told me I wasn't allowed to talk to them anymore because I was really making her nervous. I thought she was worrying for no reason but I tried not to talk to them as much and not worry her. After we got back to the ship she invited me to go out with her and her friends and so I quickly changed before going to meet them. When we met them they all wanted to go and smoke so we went out to the smoking deck before meeting with the whole group who was going. It turns out that 33 of us were all going out in that group and the group included a lot of faculty and RD's
. Once we actually got into the big group I split away from Stephanie and ended up at the RD's table. It was seriously the best meal I have ever had in my life. It was a huge buffet with sushi and then they came to you with swords of meat and you told them if you wanted it and they cut it off for you. Amazing! I've never had better meat in my life. I also tried sushi for the first time and it was ok. It was definitely better than I thought sushi would be. Everyone had so much fun. Who knew that having real meat for the first time in two weeks would bring out the best in people? After everyone was done eating we all piled into taxis and took an incredibly fast and bumpy ride home (19 in a van). After we got back it was so late that I decided to call it a night and went in to work on homework in my cabin. I ended up finally getting to bed around 4.
Day 3: Stephanie called me the next morning around 8 to see if I wanted to go out but I had to decline since I could barely open my eyes. I ended up sleeping until 2. It was so nice to be able to sleep in. When I finally got up I wrote in my blog (which later got deleted-long story) and then went to find Pam who wanted to go to the internet café with me. Unfortunately Pam had already gone and come back so I went alone. (it wasn't that dangerous and I made it just fine) When I did get back I ran to meet Kaylee for dinner and then after dinner decided that it was a good movie night so we enjoyed The 40 Year Old Virgin instead of going out. It was a lot of fun and we all had to be up early the next morning.
Day 4: I had to get up early to go to breakfast with Katina before our trip left for itapartica island on this day. We enjoyed a good breakfast before we went to meet our group. Once we got to the meeting point I found out that E and her new friend Sara were also going on the trip. We ended up talking and we formed a sub group for the trip
. On the way there we get on the boat for an hour and head to another island where we are all allowed to swim and collect shells before going to the main Island. The island was beautiful but the highlight of the day was definitely getting to know all of the people who were in our group. We had a lot of fun just hanging out and getting to know each other. After going to the actual itapartica island we all had a buffet of authentic cuisine. It was pretty good and after eating we all went on a tour/walk through the town. Unfortunately it was crazy hot so we all were dying by the time we got back to the boat. All of us girls lined up in the front so that we could nap on the two hour ride back but ended up spending most of our time talking to another kid named Andrew who got a henna tattoo of a cross on his head. It's amazing! When we did finally lie down it was one of the best chill times ever. We were able to lay in the shade with the ocean breeze on us. After finally getting back to the ship Katina and I agreed to go with E and Sara's group to the steak house. Neither of us knew anyone in there group but we thought it would be fun. At first when we got to Alex's room it was a little different because I was the only one who hadn't been on the overnight with them but we ended up really getting along. We had so much fun at the steak house and the guys all saw this drink, absenth?, that is illegal in the states so they all took a $16 shot. It was so much fun. Everyone got pretty wasted except for me and so we all decided that the next logical step would be to go to an irish pub
. Unfortunately Ian couldn't find the pub and we ended up going to this local dive. By this point we were all pretty beat so most of us decided to call it an early night and head back to the ship. There was agreed to meet the next morning to go shopping before the soccer game.
Day 5: E, Sara and I all met at 10 the next morning to go to the market. Once Kaylee and Katina joined us we all set off in search of art work and a shot glass. Unfortunately we couldn't seem to find the artwork that we wanted (a red flower) and so we ended up walking around for almost six hours looking. We did finally find something that could work and so we all got back to the ship just in time to change for the futbol match. (Basically when you were all watching pre-game I was watching soccer) The game was crazy. Almost all of the SASers decided that the best way to enjoy the game was drunk so they all drank until the bar actually ran out of beer. The game was between the two best teams in Salvador and the local crowd was amazingly into it. Everyone was chanting, singing and jumping and they would all yell at you if you got in their way. It turned out that the game ended in a tie but it was still amazing because it was Brazil and soccer is what they do. It ended up being a port where although it wasn't my favorite place in the world I had a ton of great experiences and I really got to know a lot of people. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
This is just a quick look at what a typical day is like for me here on the ship.
920 Global Studies
1035 FAB Meeting (floating activities board)
1830 Caribbean Sea Meeting
1930 SOS meeting (students of service)
2000 Community College on forms for countries
2100 Change the world
*This is my schedule just for today. That doesn't include any homework, group projects, or other activities that aren't required on the ship. Thankfully all of the activities are keeping me busy while I'm on the ship. Unfortunately we are losing an hour every night for five nights straight and I'm about 400 pages behind still in my readings for my classes. It's honestly such a good thing to constantly have something to do though. I am hoping to try and catch up on sleep and catch up in my classes in the next couple of days. I have a feeling one or the other is going to have to be put aside.