Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Trip Start Aug 03, 2005
Trip End Oct 20, 2005

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We left the Amazon with a long day of traveling (boat to Manaus, bus to the airport, plane to Sao Paulo, long wait in the airport for a plane to Salvador) and the taxi dropped us of at our hotel at about midnight. We were a little (actually a lot) horrified by the quality of the hotel which did not live up to it's internet presentation. The windows did open up to a view of the ocean and we fell asleep to the pounding of the waves. We woke up to the honking of traffic though.

Salvador, on the east coast of brazil, is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in Brazil. It is very different from Rio though - more like a sleepy coastal beach town with a crashing sea. Maybe it seems sleepy to me because it is the off season and it seems like there are more locals than tourists on the beach and the cafes are pretty empty. It apparently rains every day of the year here. It is quite warm and humid but several times a day the skies go black and the rains come. Everyone just hangs out in the cafe or a shop door until it stops.

This is the oldest city in Brazil as this was the very bay that the early Portuguese settlers "discovered" brazil. Along the coast line there are very old several forts and a lighthouse that has been in operation for hundreds of years. These structures date back to the 1600's. This is the site of many battles for land and domination and you can easily picture the soldiers defending the point from foreign invaders - when you see to the photos notice all of the old cannons along the shore.

We went to the lighthouse and discovered that it houses a nautical museum which was very interesting. After the Portuguese captured Salvador and began to "civilize" Brazil this beach bay became an entry port for ships bringing in slaves from Africa in addition to goods imported and exported.

Normally we would have gone into the city to explore the old town and the historical buildings but we decided to relax for the next couple of days while Tom was getting over his cold so we spent all of our time in the beach district.

This was also the first time that we were able to take the luxury of time to get our clothes laundered which was lovely. One of the things that we had read someplace about international traveling is that you should take a sink stopper with you. When we were in Seattle at REI we bought one to throw into our bag as an afterthought. \tab That has turned out to be the most indispensable thing we brought as we have been relying on hand washing clothes most of the time. Another thing I have discovered is that a bottle of Johnson's no tears baby shampoo is an excellent thing to have with you. It works really well as an eye make up remover but also is better for washing clothes than the little packages of Woolite that we brought.

We discovered a 4 star tourist hotel about 3 blocks from where we originally landed so we moved and it was a very good choice. They were so incredibly good to us there. We were surprised to learn that you can't just call up an airline and change a ticket over the phone because they don't want to take your credit card number over the phone without any back up documentation. We had to fax a copy of the credit card and passport to the airlines and the hotel staff was so nice to make copies and let us use the fax machine in their offices (even though it was long distance). We had to have a 4:30 am wake up call to make our 7:00 am flight and at about 5:15 the desk called to ask if we were leaving early to go to the airport and did we need a taxi? The driver was waiting for us in the lobby when we got down there.

Maybe because it was the off season but we found that the cost of food and lodging in Salvador was extremely reasonable. There were a couple of very nice restaurants near the hotel and we had a great sushi (Brazilian style) dinner with a bottle of wine and it came to about $70.00. It was a little adventurous because the menus were not available in English.

Over time we have not improved our Portuguese language skills but in desperation I have been throwing out Spanish words to see if they help. They help maybe 40% of the time. The funniest thing that happened was we were in a nice restaurant having a glass of wine and wanted to order some appetizers but, again, the menu was in Portuguese only. I asked the waiter if he spoke English but I asked him in Spanish. He got this look like "wait a minute let me get someone who speaks your language" and went and brought another waiter but rather than English he was Spanish speaking so I was only slightly better off....we managed to order some appetizers though.

So we leave Brazil. I have thoroughly enjoyed the visit here and think this is a vibrant, friendly and cosmopolitan country with a huge amount of variety in life styles across the parts of the country that we have visited. I highly recommend Brazil as an adventure vacation spot for your next vacation.

On the 19th, we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina
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