Since we were strongly advised by pretty much everyone NOT to go out at night, we figured when in Salvador we’d head out early to check out the sights – aka the giant elevator you have to take to get to the market because if you walk through the neighborhood you will get robbed. or killed. or something. IDK – wikitravel advised very strongly against walking through there. And then there was Ivan’s warning about being out after midnight. And my cousin’s girlfriend’s story about someone stealing her entire purse off her arm during Carnival.
When we got to the market after paying the exorbitant 15 cent fee to take the elevator, we got to check out some cool souvenir type things; lots of trinkets, traditional dresses and capoeira uniforms, t-shirts etc etc. Typical souvenir stuff…but prettier and more interesting because we were in Bahia and I really liked the culture and everything of the area.
On the walk back I tried to get a better feel for the neighborhood, but I can’t lie, I was a little afraid of walking around. While I’m sure I’m just being a paranoid western tourist, there is a great disparity between the tourists and the many homeless people roaming the streets begging for change or food, which does make me wear my fanny pack a little tighter. (yes, I did cave and buy a fanny pack for the trip – but it’s Topshop, does that make it a little better?) There’s also the huge disparity of the scenery which adds to the contrasting beauty of Bahia. Its like staring at Adrian Brody, there’s something a little ugly about pieces of the scenery but it adds to the character and is an overall very attractive picture.
Another tip I had received from a Brazilian once it was found out that I was in Bahia was that I needed to try acaraje. When I asked what it was all I was told was
Ask for it!! U Have to try! U will find on the streets! probably will be served by a baiana (a woman with a cloth tied into the head and long dress all white! lol just ask for ACARAJE!
And who am I to tell a Brazilian no? As we were crossing the square to get back to our hostel I saw a baiana and hesitantly peeked over her table to see what she was selling. There were two Brazilian chicks there eating something so I knew I had found the jackpot…except I couldn’t remember the damn name of the food. So I did what any logical hungry person who doesn’t speak a language should do, I pointed at their hands, held up 1 finger and pointed to myself. A few minutes later, I was blessed with this sandwich from heaven.
While I could look it up and tell you what exactly what was in it, I think it’s equally as effective to say, nom nom nom nom. Okay fine, it was some kind of bread that was deep fried on the outside and al dente on the inside. The hot “biscuit” was then removed from the oil, sliced to make a pocket and filled with some kind of hot sauce containing okra, a salsa of cucumber and onion and small head on fried shrimp. If you don’t like head on your shrimp, you’re missing out. This is by far my favorite local dish ever. And I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to have it again. Acaraje – you are the vacation romance I will never forget.
After we got back we spoke to the front desk people and were able to check another thing off my shit I want to do in Brazil list. We headed out across town to see a local soccer match which to be honest was okay. I did get awesome street meat and cheap beer walking up to the stadium but once inside they only sold non-alcoholic beer. I mean seriously? And also the match sucked, when we left with 15 minutes to go in the second half it was 3-0. Yawn. On the other hand, I will give credit to the home team for their enthusiasm of cheering, drum beating, flag waving and eventually ref cursing.
Afterwards it was internet time, which retrospectively as I’m writing this about a month late, I probably could’ve been more productive in my use of the wifi. However, sitting in the common room of a hostel is also a great way to make friends with awesome German guys, so ultimately not blogging was a good decision. Zee Germans, who were from Munich and very proud of it, and I ended up making plans to meet back after dinner time to head out together to a bar in Rio Vermelho to celebrate one of their birthday’s. While we did mention to them that we were advised that Bahia was like a gremlin – not to be fed after midnight for fear of dire consequences, we said fuck it. We’re 7 people…and they’re German, so who’s going to fuck with us?
The group of us headed out and caught a cab in the square up the block from our hostel. We had a few beers, but since it was a Sunday night, there wasn’t much going on so we stayed drinking extra cold beers (gotta love the chiller cases in Brazil) and drinking shit whiskey until they closed and then headed back around what I’m guessing was 1:30 am.
The cabs dropped us back off at the square which was only about 100 meters from our front door and we tried to drunkenly settle up the bill. Wisely, one of the German guys took care of it and told us that we should figure it out among ourselves when we got back to the hostel. Way to apply EU principles to every day life – no wonder you’re running Europe. Upon better recognition of our surroundings I also realized there were quite a few bums and crackheads milling around since the police were no longer present at that time of night.
One hustler came up to us and asked us if we were having a good time and if we liked to party – which in case you’re my mom reading this, is code for do you like drugs. And in case Mark didn’t realize that, the guy followed his question with the very subtle “Do you want marijuana?” Not really interested, we started walking back to the hostel and the guy kept chatting up Mark. Not really paying attention I was just about at the hostel door when I heard a yell and saw one of the Germans running my way. There was a frantic dash to open the door, herd everyone in and someone slammed the gate behind us.
Ummm….what did I miss?
Apparently, I was too much of a ditz to notice what was going on behind me. I had figured safety in numbers – especially with a number of dudes – which apparently doesn’t work with crackheads. One of the guys who had been bringing up the rear suddenly felt a prick in his back. No homo. One of the crackheads had pulled a knife on him and poked him in his shoulder demanding his money. And he did what any good German would do, screamed and ran away. As that was happening, Chatty McChattypants who had been with Mark, reached into Mark’s pocket just as the German guy screamed. Fortunately, Mark has some kind of idiot savant reflexes and grabbed the guys arm before he could take anything and just pointed back towards the square and said “Go!” And fortunately crackheads are good at following instructions. All of this had gone unnoticed by me until after we had walked into the hostel, sat down and opened beers while the story was retold. I suck.
After that, there was nothing to do but drink off the stress so we sat around and played kings, using one of the cards to create a compiled “cheers” whenever we got to a waterfall.
HERE’S TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL, NOT GETTING ROBBED AND AMERICAN SOCCER GAMES.
I’ll drink to that.