While I was in Ciudad del Este I had to make some quick decisions about where I would go next, in about two days time. After throwing it out to Facebook for some suggestions, I decided that Salvador would be the next stop. That said, not having a definite plan in advance and buying a last minute flight for New Year's Day is not ideal. Still, it had to be done. I was on a clock now and every day counted.
So I asked the taxi to wait while I got stamped out of Paraguay and then drive me over to Brazil for safety reasons. He was fine with this and there were some dodgy, homeless, drunk-looking people wandering about so this was probably a good idea. On the Brazilian side he gets stopped and isn’t allowed to go any further. Basically all the contraband is coming out of Paraguay so the Brazilian police like to crack down and search vehicles and bags when they feel like it. I can see the bus stop so I decide to get out and walk. Then he tries to tell me the price is in Brazilian money not Paraguayan money (which is worth a lot less).
Oh another day, another taxi driver trying to scam me!
This statue is something to do with slavery. I think Salvador is where the first African slaves were brought in from.
Cool capoeira demonstration.
Salvador is the other city Michael Jackson filmed his video for "They don't care about us". He stood on this balcony overlooking this square.
Mark and I then went looking this vegan restaurant, which is near the Michael Jackson square. I found it, but it was closed for the New Year holidays. Outside I met some Argentinians who were also hoping to go there for lunch. At this point I ditched Mark, who decided to try somewhere else for lunch and started walking around on my own. Although unplanned, I ended up at this place with the Argentinians. They invited me to join them since the dishes are for sharing and this meant there was four of us. Perfect!
Zen serves traditional Bahian food. It was so good. All these people who tell me you can't experience local dishes unless you eat meat are such bullshitters. If I've learnt one thing from eating my way around South America, it's that the local tastes mostly come from the spices used and how the food is cooked. Plus there were some unusual veggies in these pots that must be unique to Brazil cos the others hadn't seen them before. It was really nice meeting some long time Argentinian vegetarians, given how much beef that country consumes. I found them really interesting to talk to. They also gave me some tips on where to eat in Mendoza (their home city).
All the guide books say do not under any circumstances walk down the road even during the day cos gangs will rob you. Down the bottom was not very exciting except for getting some photos of guys jumping into the water. Then you have to line up again to take the lift back up.
Cone of silence?
The next day I decided to explore Barra. The beaches were really crowded, which is to be expected since everyone is on their summer holidays. Barra is definitely the nicest part of Salvador that I visited.
I'm pretty sure I saw this woman in yellow on the left squat behind a rock to take a piss. Um... This is the rich people's part of Brazil. It's not Bolivia.
And you know what me being in Brazil means? Açaí bowls!!! I am so glad that Australia started importing this stuff while I was away and I can now buy it at lunchtime in Brisbane if I want. Yay. Happy days!
There is a massive shopping centre in the middle of Barra with an excellent food court. I highly recommend the Middle Eastern place which has excellent falafels and hummus, among other yummy vegan things.
The super helpful staff in the Barra hostel gave me some ideas of where I should go next. I had to be in Belo Horizonte on the 10th January so I had a good week to make my way down the coast towards there.
Morro de Sao Paulo
First stop was the beautiful island of Morro de Sao Paulo. This is where rich Brazilians go on their holidays. It is just a few hours from Salvador. There are several ways of getting there but I chose the shuttle, which meant I got picked up at the hostel and all shuttles/ ferries were included.
Here is Salvador as I left.
Getting on this first ferry took so long. It literally took about two hours just for someone to pick up our tickets.
Now to set the context, it was a Saturday, in summer, the weekend after New Year's. So accommodation on the island was limited. However, I found a bed on Hostelworld for two nights. Having a booking in peak season is the only reason I went. When I arrived at about 5pm, the guy tells me he's overbooked. So now I have no where to sleep and all the other hostels (which are all in walking distance since there's no cars here) are also booked. I already knew this from Hostelworld. This was the only place showing availability! So then I try some of the more expensive looking pousadas. Most of them were full too. There was a brief period where I thought I would be sleeping on the beach.
But then my luck changed. Outside one of the pousadas I met Anne Laure from France. She didn't have a reservation but said she knew a hostel that had space cos she'd called them twice and they said just turn up. However, she couldn't find it. After asking around we eventually found it. But it was out of the way (as far as being on an island goes) up some massive hill. Not ideal with heavy backpacks and me carrying 5L of water.
On the ferry some Brazilians were asking me why I brought 5L of water with me. I said cos water is usually expensive on islands. They all laughed and said no, it's fine. But I was right. My 5L from a mainland supermarket was the same as a 2L bottle bought there. I was financially satisfied by my decision even though carrying it around looking for accommodation was annoying.
This was the view from our room.
After we'd settled in and had showers we decided to go find dinner. Everything here is really expensive so obviously we went to the cheapest place (which still wasn't that cheap) and turned out to be terrible. The price to quality ratio did not work in our favour this time.
Still, walking around the island at night was really nice. This is Brazil, so there's always a lot going on.
The hostel owner was a bit sleazy. He kept asking us what we like in Brazilian men and if we wanted to meet Brazilian men and that he could help us out with that. Plus he kept talking to us in Portuguese even though most of the time we couldn't understand him and kept telling him we don't speak Portuguese! We also think he was trying to scam more money out of us because one of the ladies at checkin told us breakfast was included but then he said we had to pay extra. So to counter that, we just stole breakfast since he wasn't there. He also made us pay for the internet password. We did share it with each other so we only paid once though.
Anyway, the next day was a beach day.
And what beautiful beaches!
After stealing breakfast again on the second day it was time to leave. Anne Laure was heading up to Salvador and I was going south to Itacare.