A geeft for you my friend

Trip Start Sep 2005
Trip End Sep 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bahia de Salvador is the biggest city on the Northern coast. It's also the most interesting. It's the closest thing from Africa that you'll get to Ireland that exists in South America, if that makes sense. Because it was the main place for importing slaves, the place has a really african feel. Lots of drum music, afro-brazilian dancing dancing and capoeira, which is a martial art the slaves developed to defend themselves. Totally different to any other brazilian spot. It's one place that I had buy the T-shirt.

It's one of the last cities to benefit from Brazils economic boom and so it's still a bit in the doldrums. The guide boooks also warn that it's probably the most dangerous city in Brazil. Normally they say that if you dress like a local you don't stand out like a gringo, but Salvador is about 90% african so that little rule doesn't really work here if your irish.

You just brace yourself and expect to be hassled. There's all sorts fraudsters. Kids that ask you to take them to the chemist so that they can buy some dried milk, which they sell once you go. Guys that give you a "free gift" of a ribbon bracelet and then hound you for therest of the day till you give them some money to feck off. The most intimidating are the Capoeira guys. It's really good to watch. They beat a big drum which is about as loud as a Lambeg, and to the beat of the drum do all sorts of shadow kicks to the head and chest, but never to the nuts. Once the drum gets louder and faster they really give it the welly, jumping up in the air doing reverse spin kicks to within millimetres of the other guys head. They are rippling all over with muscles, and if they catch you as much as looking sideways at them they charge you for the show. Even if you're in a restaurant on the other side of the plaza and they think you've been looking at them, or that they might be in a picture that you've just taken, they will demand money off you. Whose going to refuse? Though I suppose you could kick them in the nuts, they never practice for that one. Tell him "You know the rules, guard your tools", and run off, like you do in primary school.

When we first arrived we got seriously hassled by the guys with the ribbons wanting to be our "friends". Unfortunately I haven't learnt the Brazilian yet for "Get a Job". One guy just kept hounding us and then started shouting "F$%k Off" in a perfect Cockney accent. I wonder where he learnt that one. After you've walked around for a while they seem to recognize you and stop annoying you. But stil it's a hassle. It's a pity because it's a really beautiful city. Multicoloured houses in old cobbled streets prefectly preserved. Theres a cathedral where the slaves who were forced to build and paint it got their own back by endowing the angels with huge members and making many of the women saints pregnant with massive breasts. We also went to the Market Modelo which is where the slaves were dumped while they waited to be auctioned. Tourists are able to go down into the dungeon where the slaves were chained, which apparently is very haunted. About halfway down the sprial staircase, Gina chickened out. It's a real hell hole. Bleak, black, and wet. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be dumped in there, half starved and seriously overcrowded. There were about four slits for light away up high in the walls and that was it, for a room half the size of the Ulster hall. Maybe it's because the walls were so thick, but it was noticably cooler down there even though it was boiling outside. They don't know how lucky they were.

My Brazilian is getting better at long last. I'd say it wouldn't take long to get the hang of it. I was in an international telephone place when a portugese guy came in and asked the brazilian guy behind the counter if he could speak portugese. The brazilian guy said that his portugese was so-so. (I didn't feel so stupid then). They probably use mostly the same words but the Brazilian pronunciations are totally different. It would be nice to learn but Im struggling with spanish at the moment.
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