We arrived early around 6am then took a cab to Hotel Estrela in Pelourinho, the historic district of town. Pelourinho means whipping post in Portuguese and the location was a major slave auction port outlawed in 1835. When we arrived we were greeted by an incredibly nice receptionist who had been working at the Hotel for over 14yrs and learned English by watching movies!!
Due to the dreary rain I took a 3-4hr nap and John drew a beautiful church dome (Igereja da Misenicordia) that was just outside our bedroom window. The view from our hotel was incredible. From the terrace we could see Praca de Se with Catheral Basilica, Praca tome de Souza, Terreiro de Jesus, and Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco. Around 11am we ventured out into the city where we were immediately approached by street people of all ages asking for money, food etc. Due to the heavy rain we quickly made it to a nice restaurant called MamaBahia where live music was
being played by a musician whose guitar arm was inside the body of the guitar. Very interesting.
MORE interesting than that was what happened on our way back to the hotel. As we were making our way along the sidewalk there was a man walking toward us. He was around 50 and was wearing nothing but a man's bikini bathing suit. No shoes, no hat and the rain was freezing. It was obvious he was a bit off his rocker. Instead of walking across the street to the other side we continued to walk towards him not thinking he'd notice two gringos in bright red raincoats. John walked past him with no problem, but as I looked up the crazy man and I made eye contact! Oh shoot! Immediately he threw up his arms, screamed and started running at me. I made it across the street but not in enough time to avoid the heavy punch that the crazy grape smuggler threw at me. I was terrified!! After the punch the crazy man continued running down the street. The punch apparently relieved him of whatever pissed him off. Thank goodness!!! I thought I was going to have to wrestle
with a half naked crazy man for my life!! (John: It all happened so fast in the pouring rain. I heard a man scream, which startled me but I honestly didn't think much of it and only a second later heard Chrissy yell! I turned around to find her running in one direction with her arms shielding her head and the crazy man running away in the other. My first thought was he had only scared her but after catching up with her and realizing what had happened the man was long gone. The incident definitely was a wake up call, we were really lucky, things could have been much worse. We are continually approached by street people and have become quite used to it, but since then our guard has been up and we are more cautious of the crazies that we keep crossing paths with.)
After that nonsense for the remainder of the day we stayed close to our hotel. We spent the evening enjoying a few drinks at the neighboring restaurant, where the owner fed the local street people to keep them at bay. As if the day events weren't enough, we watched drug exchanges, prostitutes,
homeless people, and wild cats and dogs take over the streets. We quickly realized that although Pelourinho's cobbled streets and colorful houses are the safer areas of the city, it's not a place to be explored at night. Lucky for us we didn't have to walk far and were relieved once we were inside our guarded hotel. Fun stuff.
We also encountered a young boy of about 12-13yrs who lived on the street. He spoke excellent English and every time he saw us, asked for food. We tried to give him money for food, but later found out that he was so addicted to drugs he knew that he would only spend money on the addiction. So after a day of meeting him we bought him a giant hot dog but he made a scene when we didn't buy him a drink as well! Crazy huh?
The next few days we really enjoyed Salvador. We visited Igreja e Convento Sao Francisco a GORGEOUS golden church, Moderna Meracado a fun market, and did various shopping throughout. Awesome jewelry, art stores, Capoeira dancing everywhere, and lovely decorated ladies!! So much artistic talent to see. One evening we went to Museu
de Art Moderna to see a Jazz Jam. (Recommended by folks at Cafe Zuma... great place as well). Various artists from around the city got together and just jammed! Most interesting was random artists who broke out with flute tunes and freestyle rap with the famous jazz tunes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and much more. Also there was a local drunk with a giant umbrella dancing for the band and audience.
The original plan was to head north to the Amazon River and do a boat/river float. After talking with various people and after serious evaluation of time we decided to skip the float. From what we learned you spend 5 days floating on a giant boat with hundreds of other people and you do not see the wildlife you would expect. Sooo... we decided to fly to Bogota, Columbia.
At 4:00am the next morning, we grabbed a taxi to the airport and were delighted by the roller skating security guy, whistling a tune as he gracefully whizzed past! haha