I may be home and finished traveling but for all of my readers; we have about 3 weeks left in Brazil. So…this will be you (me) as I recount our travels in this update.
I had been relaxing in Rio for a few weeks and was not enjoying myself as much as I believed I should. I wanted a change. But in Brazil, a change (the actual act of traveling) is expensive. But one night I met a few Canadians and they helped to change my mind and come to the realization that no matter the expense, i am fortunate to be in Brazil and should make the most of it.
Rio De Janeiro and Salvador was what attracted me to visit Brazil in the first place, which was not an easy nor cheap task. It only made sense that I would visit Salvador out of any other destination (though i briefly considered Buenos Aires).
“Salvador (historic name, São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos, in English: “Holy Savior of All Saints’ Bay”) is a city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil’s capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival.
I actually took this photo!
The city of Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture, and its metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the northeastern region of the country. Over 80% of the population of metropolitan region of Salvador is of Black African origin, and African influence in many cultural aspects of the city makes it the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. The historical center of Salvador, frequently called the Pelourinho, is rich in historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985″ (http://wikitravel.org/en/Salvador).
That’s enough of an introduction to Salvador. The following day I woke up early to make that change. I began by researching plane fares on the internet. It’s really not worthy busing it because the costs are even more than flying and it takes over 20 hours. Really, you need to realize that Brazil is huge, like the United States. After getting a general idea of the costs, I went to obtain quotes from a few travel agencies. I again went back and compared them to prices I found on the internet. finally, I went back to one travel agency and booked the plane ticket for a pretty good price, about $450 Real’s.
Off I went the following night. I set out with all of my belongings on my back and walked a while until i reached the unofficial bus stop, opposite the famous Copacabana Palace Hotel. The idea is to wave the bus down. Problem is that the bus does not run on a schedule and tends to come at a random time every hour. Another problem is that next to the sidewalk is a road just for bicycles and on the other side is a skinny sidewalk that is not meant to wait on. Even worse is that Copacabana beach is extremely sketchy at night and waiting there, especially with valuables (my bags), is asking to be robbed.
Even walking to the bus stop presented problems. For instance, homeless men and sketchy guys would shout at me, asking if i needed help carrying the bags (can we rob you) or trying to sell me drugs or whores.
Being the “experienced” traveler I am, I walked very fast with my head up and hurried next to a nearby hotel when I felt at great risk. This worked and I safely made it to the “bus stop”. I chose to stand next to one of the hot dog vendors in hopes that I would not stand out to much. This was a great choice as the vendor flagged down the bus when it came more than 30 minutes later. The ride only took one and a half hours but did save me about 30-40 Real’s.
The adventure did not end after leaving Rio. During my flight I met a few kind Brazilians traveling back home to Salvador after a quick business trip in Rio. One of them spoke passable English and so he wrote down every possible tourist destination in and around Salvador which turned out very helpful.
After landing in Salvador after midnight, they offered to drive me to my hostel, which was way out of their way. My instincts told me it was okay to trust these guys. That’s another thing; your instincts and ability to judge situations and other people great improve when traveling. It’s probably because we do it all the time as we change locations, meet new people, etc…..all of the time.
My baggage came out after 30 seconds of waiting and we hurried to the parking lot to set off. They were doing me a huge favor since I would have probably needed to spend at least 60 Real’s on a taxi.
The rain started pouring down as we drove closer to the hostel. When we finally arrived, they had offered to show me the city and take me to a soccer game. Did I mention they were really kind people?
In the pouring rain at about 1am, i ran with my belongings to the door of the hostel and rang. After a minute of waiting and the rain drenching my clothes and bags, a guys answered.
Another problem: he only spoke Portuguese. There is also a little courtyard after the first door before i reached the main door inside. But he did not want to let me in since I would mess up the lobby with my wet clothing and bags. The next few minutes consisted of him telling me that the hostel was full, me trying to make reservations for the next day, and him pointing outside to another hostel nearby that I could walk to….in the rain!
I once again gathered my belongings and set out into the night in an unfamiliar city I had just arrived in. This seems to happen more often than I prefer. I bolted down the unevenly paved sidewalks as fast as the bags on my shoulders would allow, stepping in countless puddles along the way with glasses that fogged up as soon as I left the hostel. I removed my glasses, able to see slightly. I passed many bars and restaurants with the patrons staring and chuckling at me.
That was one of many moments that make me realize that I love to travel. The absurdity of the situation makes it so adventurous and fun, even if in reality I should feel miserable and sorry for myself.
I continued walking with my eyes pointed to the end of the endless street where I was supposed to make a right…I thought. I turned right and it was a dead end, a long one. I continued to the end (another 5 minutes) and did not see another hostel in sight. At the end of the block, I abandoned my belongings under the cover of a tree and darted back down the street and to the left to where I started. That’s when I saw it, a big sign reading “Hostel Brasil.” It seems that the hostel worker has meant it was on the right hand side of the street…not to make a right.
So once again, I ran down to the end of the street to claim my belongings which were now soaked.
I forgot to mention: I was wearing my $2 flip flops I bought at CVS back home the entire time. Also, the straps on my backpack had broken a few weeks back. That basically means that the backpack’s purpose of feeling light by it being strapped around the hips no longer works. Inste
ad, it feels its true weight…over 50 lbs.
With my belongings in tow, I made it to my new hostel with available space. I never felt better. They welcomed me, threw a warm towel over my head, and showed me to my room where I slept exceptionally well.