Wed 11 Nov 2009 00:38
Weather: Sunny, warm
Salvador is a dirty old city. I have only been out into it to see the necessary officials for clearing into the country and to obtain essential supplies such as paint and food. The marina is probably a good place to be with its iron fence and 24 hour security guards. Salvador perhaps is not as bad as Durban where I also lived behind iron gates, at least I haven't heard any gunfire at night yet. An unusual feature of Salvador is the elevador, a huge elevator that connect the shore with the old city sitting several hundred feet up a cliff. As I sit here writing I can see it through the companionway hatch, the top of it is lit up with an iridescent blue spotlight. I have been here before and I know what is up on that mesa, I don't feel inclined to go sight seeing this time round. It is well worth visiting and depending on how long I am here I may go up there and have another wander around, but daylight only. I have been advised do not use the elevator at night, you will be mugged, not might but will. It is perhaps an exaggeration but I have no desire to prove my advisors right or wrong.
So much of this city is very rundown. I had to go ashore to buy some white paint, a large Catholic church was on the way, the massive green painted wooden doors were open so I went inside for a look. On the outside it was dirty, white many years ago, the masonry is crumbling, but on the inside it is immaculate, a typical catholic church in the overstated Roman style, many columns with gold spirals sinuously sliding vertically up and round, the alter not quite dominating at the far end, busy in rich symbols, including the Brazilian flag which I thought an unusual nationalistic touch, and along the sides the many alcoves of mini chapels, each with their own saint, I guess you can take your pick depending on what is ailing you. The hardware store was a few buildings up, I turned my back on this strange unreal opulence to the rundown reality of the world outside.
I found the hardware store, sniffed the paint to make sure it was oil based, polyurethane was just asking too much, but the price was good and now the coach house is glossy white again with just some detailing to do over the next couple of days.
Other impressions of Salvador, in my wanderings along the waterfront searching for various offices the smell of urine was over powering, and I saw why at one point, the iron stanchions along the warehouse walls make a good place for gentlemen to find some minimal privacy to relieve themselves. A dead rat lay on the footpath. Nearby the marina dug out log canoes lie at moorings next to colourfully painted carvel planked boats and flat bottomed, slab sided plywood dinghies. On a sloping concrete ramp many dilapidated boats are hauled, boards sprung, seams gaping, a white haired handle bar mustached shipwright holds a large stick he whittling it down with a small heavy adze, intriguing to watch, each stroke he makes it closer to the perfect fit he needs to repair the gap in the transom of the brightly painted craft before him. Meanwhile on the steps leading down to the not quite brown but none too clear water another gentleman, fashionable felt hat cocked back upon his brow squatted, a roll of toilet paper in one hand, it will need quite a high tide to flush the steps.
It grows dark. I have given a bunk to a stranger tonight, a young French backpacker, Lisom. She arrived in Salvador this morning with only 50 Reals in her pocket and nowhere to stay. I tell her that she can stay the night. That was earlier today, now she has returned on board and reports that she has already found a job in a nearby youth hostel which includes accommodation. Amazing, and people think I am brave. I am a coward compared to some of these young people I meet travelling the globe.
The marina at night is noisy, somewhere a short distance away there is a night club that plays all night, during the day from somewhere else I also haven't visited there emanates continual repetitious rhythmic drumming and chanting, the same phrase over and over and over and over again. The naval base a few hundred meters away adds to the discordant melody with traditional pipes, shrill whistlings go on night and day, it seems the Brazilians love their ritual and ceremony.
But just now there is a moment of unusual quiet, time for some sleep I think.
All is well.
A strange young woman gave me a pat, that was nice. But as the skipper says, perhaps the most sensible order I have heard him ever give, time for some sleep. Zzzzzzzz.