Dancing and face licking!!
09.03.2012 - 11.03.2012
We arrived in salvador mid afternoon in the blazing sunshine to find that we couldn't park the truck near to the pousada where we'd be staying. We unloaded the truck and made our way on foot, being mindful of our stuff as we had all heard of salvadors reputation for muggings. As we turned onto the street where our pousada was we were faced with the steepest hill and cobbled street. It was not fun walking up there all loaded up and I arrived at the top to find that I had forgotten something so had to run back to the truck before it was driven off to a truck park for the next few days. I was literally dripping with sweat when I got back to the hotel, it was pretty disgusting. That's when I found out that we had a pool - yay! The pousada was actually really lovely with nice air conditioned rooms a good space to sit outside and eat breakfast and a cool pool area. There were also turtles and rabbits.
I was in desperate need for clean clothes, so whilst most did the sensible thing and got straight in the pool in search of a laundrette. The hotel guy pointed us in the direction of the only one in the city which was pretty far away from the pousada and required us to skirt around the outside of one of the forbidden areas. We later found out that there was only a very small area of the city that we were "allowed" in as there are some really dodgy parts with some pretty bad drug problems. I'm not sure what would happen if you ventured outside of what we called the inner circle, none of us were brave enough to find out.
Anyway we got totally lost on our search for the laundrette and by the time we arrived back at the pousada we had pretty much seen everything that we would see in the city. We'd been totally freaked out by the out of bounds speach, so at this point we didn't really like it. There were beggars everywhere with some pretty nasty cuts and bruises that they'd show you in an attempt to get money from you, we stepped over the biggest bag of drugs lying on the floor and the police presence told us everything we needed to know about the crime level there, they were literally on every street corner.
That said, it's a very pretty town, very hilly, with cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings. There are groups of people dancing capoeira everywhere, hair braiding and music pumping out onto the streets from peoples apartments. Once we got over the initial thoughts you saw past it and had a brilliant time.
Having sorted the laundry and hit the pool and showers, we headed out for a group dinner. We ate at a restaurant on the edge of the inner circle. All of the restaurants have staff in typical African dress (the town has a huge African population which stems from the African slaves which were once brought here), and they also have live music. Our live music was a guy on what looked like a homemade guitar - seasick Steve stylee.
Once we finished our meal and were enjoying a little post dinner drink, a group of musicians and dancers entered the square where we were sat and made their way around it. They were playing all of the instruments that you see in the capoeira bands, mainly drums, tambourines and those shaky things with beads around them, but they also had another instrument, which looked a little like a bow from a bow and arrow with a coconut in the end. The player would position a piece of stone against the wire on the bow and hit the wire with a stick and the sound would echo through the coconut. It sounds pretty cool. They were excellent and had a trail of people who'd joined them on the walk through the city, dancing along to the music they were playing.
Unfortunately, a lady on one of the other outside tables at the restaurant saw them and got up to take a picture and in an instant had her bag stolen. All of the staff chased after whoever stole it and police were there instantly but it was gone. A little reminder for all of us of how protective we needed to be over our belongings.
We went off on a search for a little bar to drink at and came across a bit of a party. It was at a crossroads outside a bar that had live music playing in it. A strange set up as people were dancing in the bar but buying drinks from the street vendors and chatting outside. The music was really nice so we stayed there drinking. We managed a short dance with some of the locals, but mainly stood about outside in our group drinking and chatting.
The following day we had a bit of a lazy morning, a lie in and a catch up for most people on the internet, checking in with family and friends. We eventually headed out to visit the local market that we'd heard was good. We shopped in there for a couple hours, looking through the hundreds of art stalls which all sold some pretty cool artwork of the city and the dancing. There were lots of musical instrument and jewellery stalls too. We got the lift back up from the port to city level and headed back to the pousada to drop off our shopping, stopping on the way to get a few braids put in Sarah's hair. Whilst she walks having it done I managed to befriend fabiano, who was waiting to get his hair done into corn rows. It was nice to chat to one of the locals, as so far we had tried to avoid them in fear of being mugged.
After dropping of our shopping we headed straight back out to go find the golden church but it was closed so instead found ourselves in a cool little cafe on one of the side streets where we sat and ate quiche and drank juice. We explored the city a little more before finding somewhere to buy acai and then going back to the pousada to get ready for our trip to the music theatre that night.
We had our pre departure meeting that evening to get the details of the final leg of my trip. We had five new passengers joining us for this leg, a couple of German girls and three Aussie gay guys. All really nice, this was going to be a good leg.
After the meeting we headed off for our dance show at the music theatre close to our pousada. It was incredible, there were 6 dances all traditional Brazilian dances. There was one with a guy with a bowl of fire on his head and hands. He ate the fire, rubbed it in his chest, danced with it on his head and walked through it. It looked like e set one of his feet on fire at one point - ouchy!!
Another involved machetes and Sarah and I both got struck by flying bits of knife at one point, that must have broken off when they were smashing them together.
There was one with a load of guys in loin cloths dancing about, one with a great big straw covered man and a couple others too.
The best was the capoeira though, they were obviously really enjoying it and it's pretty nice to see. It's basically a martial art that was banned years ago so they turned it into a non contact dance. It still looks like the are fighting together but it's all coordinated so that they never touch. It's all performed to music ad is quite acrobatic. These guys have muscles where you wouldnt expect muscles to be. Amazing.
We headed back to base for a take out Chinese before heading back or to the same bar that we'd been to the night before. There was another live bar and before long Sarah, rudi and I were throwing some shapes on the dance floor. Before we knew it the place was full of people dancing, such a lovely atmosphere. We danced with loads of the locals, many of whom declared their undying love for us, one wanted to take us to his music studio to "show us something" and another licked my face when I refused to kiss him. It's hard work being an English woman in this town!! Just as we were pretty much all danced out we joined the others outside who had met an older guy who wanted to take us to another club, so off we went feeling tired and ready for bed. As soon as we got in the club (after much negotiation and refusal to pay to get in), we all got a second wind and got our dancing shoes back on. This time we were listening to the usual dance music instead of a samba band, but still lots of fun. More unwanted attention and general face licking from the locals but all harmless enough and actually quite funny. We headed back to the pousada at 3am where most of the group got straight in the pool but I took to bed, way too much dancing!
The next day we had booked to go on a boat trip to a couple of the islands around the area. We boarded the boat at 9am which is roughly when all of the locals started on the caiprinhas. It was absolutely pissing down with rain when we got on and it showered a fair bit throughout the morning, but we had shelter on our schooner, so all good. Whilst we were on the boat we had a really
Lovely little samba band playing. Just a banjo, a couple of drums and a tambourine but enough to get every dancing and having fun. It was a really lovely chilled out day. Sarah and I had positioned ourselves conveniently by the bar and the barman seemed happy to keep giving us free drinks which was nice.
The islands themselves were pretty remote so on the first one we just sat on the beach and played in the sea whilst little Sarah built and huge sandcastle. On the second island we had buffet lunch which was followed up by another capoeira display and then some more beach time.
Back on the mainland, we headed out for a quick spot of dinner before heading back to the pousada. Sarah and I wanted to go out but it was still early so we went back to our room for a little bedroom disco before sneaking out past the others a little later. It was Sunday night so there was very little going on. Our regular bar was open but there was no live music and only a few people hanging around there so we walked about a little more.
Eventually we heard some music coming from down an alley way. We could see that there was a samba "club" down there but we weren't sure if this was inside the allowed area or not. We waited outside for a little while umming and ahing about whether it was a stupid idea to go there or not. Eventually we decided to go take a look. What we found at the end was a little courtyard with a live samba band and lots of locals dancing and watching, drinking. It looked cool but we felt out of place so we scarpered back up the alleyway. Then we realised we were being stupid, this was just what we were looking for and there was nothing else happening tonight so we went back in.
We ordered ourselves a couple of drinks and when I got back outside Sarah had befriended a couple of local guys, one of whom could speak English and they were inviting us to go sit with them. As the only other tables were at a lower level at the back of the courtyard, we decided we'd go for it. They seemed harmless enough.
Bad decision. It was actually very funny sitting with them but these guys were full on! They had paired us up before we even sat down and they were all over us. I kept moving away from them as one of them was practically sitting in my lap. It was funny because the other guy didn't speak English and they were arguing because he needed a translator to speak to Sarah but he didn't want to because he was busy trying to sit on my lap whist I'm desperately trying to escape. Anyway, it all got a little too much and despite my attempts to tell him to chill the hell out and back off they persisted and as soon as the band came back on Sarah and I scarpered to the dance floor. We were recognised immediately from the previous two nights by one of the ladies in there. She recognised Sarah's stupid leg dancing and took to showing us to samba. Then the locals started cheering us on and before we knew it we were in the thick of it dancing with all the locals. They can dance! It's so good watching them dance, it's so fast but looms amazing.
The band finished at 11 that night and whilst we wanted to carry on we decided to pass on the request for us to go for a drive with the locals to find more music so we decided to call it a night. Just time for one more face lick before heading home for a good kip before we left for the visit to the turtle project the next day.