Monday, April 4, 2016

I'll Take One Trip To The Happiness Capital of Brazil for $100, Please.

Let me clarify things for a second. I did not spend my four day weekend in  El Salvador, the Central American country. I did spend my four day weekend in Salvador, the city in the Northeastern state of Bahia. 

Melissa arrived on Wednesday morning and because I didn't pay attention when booking the plane tickets I'm a really good friend who wanted her to be able to see as much of Brazil as possible, we were back at the airport less than eight hours later to board our flight to Salvador. 

We arrived at our hostel in Pelourinho late Wednesday evening and pretty much straight to bed. I mean, we had to be well-rested for the 8 hour tour that we had signed up for for Thursday. 

While in Salvador, we stayed at the Açai Hostel which was a pretty great place to call home for a couple of days. Much like Six Star Hostel that I stayed at in Taipei, Açai Hostel had bunk beds built into the walls and black out curtains for each bed. Each bed also had outlets, a small little locker, and a bedside lamp in each bed as well as a rolling locker for each guest. And they provided the keys for said lockers, which is a huge bonus. The only downside was that the hostel only turned the AC on from 10pm-9am, which is really unfortunate when there's 90% humidity each day.

On Thursday, we took one of the worst tours of my entire life. It was 8 hours of transportation. I'm not kidding. We basically sprinted through Pelourinho, jogged around Dique do Tororó (which is a small lake in Salvador that has statues of Orixás in the middle), caught a bus that took us to the sketchiest train ever, rode a baby boat across the bay where we did eat at the best ice cream in Salvador, hiked up to Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim and stayed a total of five minutes, crammed ourselves into a tiny car that drove us to the beach, laid on the beach for a total of 30 minutes, got back into the crammed car and drove back to the hostel.

Seriously. It was a huge disappointment. The only high points were the ice cream and the church. I'll admit, the ice cream was pretty bangin'. And even though we were only at the church for about five minutes, we were able to buy some of the famous ribbons, make our wishes, and tie them on the fence. Which is really all that we were going to do there anyways, we just had to do it a little bit faster than I would have liked.

Since we breezed through Salvador so quickly on Thursday, we wanted to devote Friday to exploring Pelourinho and spending some quality beach time. Before leaving Rio, a bunch of people had warned us to be safe in Salvador because it wasn't like Rio. You know, be aware of your surroundings, don't go down dark streets at night. (Which is good travel advice period.) Pelourinho didn't feel unsafe during the day, but I could see how it could get a little sketchy at night. During the day, it was filled with tourists and more shops than I knew what to do with. my favorite part is that a TON of the shops were selling paintings for R$10. Which is a whopping $2.75USD. For a handmade painting. It was pretty awesome. Not as awesome as when we stopped to watch a guy paint and he painted us into the painting, because that was pretty great.

We also stopped for a street performance of Olodum. It was like marching band, but better. I'm also a horrible dancer, but you know, YOLO and all that good stuff. I can say with a solid 98% certainly that I will never hear an Olodum performance on the cobblestone streets of Pelourinho again, so I was definitely going to carpe that diem.

After a morning of shopping and sweating, we were ready to go to the beach. We took a taxi to Praia do Farol da Barra (basically, Barra Lighthouse Beach) and it was definitely one of our best decisions while in Salvador. The water was divine and the waves were calm. Neither of which is true of the beaches in Rio. Seriously, I've been swimming less than ten times the entire time I have lived here. So we swam around, climbed on rocks, dug for shells, and basically played mermaid until the sun set. And let me tell you, it was awesome.

What wasn't awesome was the taxi driver on the way home who greeted us by saying "I'm sad." and then proceeded to talk about his broken heart for the entire 30 minute taxi ride. Seriously. I'm like Chandler Bing in these situations. I'm not good at advice, but I can offer you a sarcastic comment. Which, in my limited Portuguese, was basically "It's over."

And because my life goal is to make everything way more challenging than it should be, I got all of the way to security at the airport before someone told me that one of the souvenirs that I had purchased had to be checked and couldn't be carried on. And even a nice smile and batting my eyelashes couldn't convince them otherwise. Le sigh.

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