Salvador is stunning

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 11 Feb 2011 18:13

Monday morning we caught a bus from near the marina and went to La Barra shopping mall. We bought a local SIM card and looked around the supermarket. It was more of a reconnaissance visit than to do much in the way of shopping but I did buy some fruit and vegetables to keep us going for a few days until I know what provisioning I need to do prior to the 15th, when we go on a 5 day trip to the interior.
The bus drivers seem to be wannabe racing drivers and the bus stops are more like pit stops. You have to get on the bus by the rear door, where you hand the fare to a conductor who then lets you pass through a turnstile into the bus. You exit the bus via the door at the front, next to the driver. However, if you are a pensioner, you can get on via the front door as you donât have to pay to travel on the bus. Also, if you are a street vendor, you may get on by the front door, attempt to ply your wares and get off at the next stop or perhaps the one after the next stop having completed your business.
We passed a lot of very interesting, ornate buildings but which were sorely in need of a bit more than just tender loving care. The journey took about twenty minutes and cost a total of around 5GBP return, which covered the cost of both our journeys.
The produce in the supermarkets seemed quite expensive, particularly after the inexpensive prices of items in South Africa. One wonders how the local people manage afford to purchase the goods. Apparently the local currency has doubled in value against the â, US$ and GBP, during the last couple of years.
We went into a travel agents to change US$ to the local currency and the door was opened by an armed guard. The guards at the marina also wear a firearm,
I managed to de-rust the fiberglass on about half of the boat during the morning before it started to get too hot. Moe and Bev subsequently washed the boat but used water from our own tanks. The pressure on the water supplied from the pontoon is so poor it is inadequate for trying to wash the boat. Usually we connect up to the water on the pontoon but we are using the water from our own tanks while we are here.
Bev went to a local acupuncturist for treatment on her arm. After the first session, she said that her arm felt slightly better but the pain was now different. After the second session, her entire arm felt as if it was a raw nerve end. Following the third and final session, she found out that there was a chiropractor on the boat berthed opposite us who was willing to treat Bevâs arm. However, she decided to leave things as they were for a few days before spending more money on treatment.
During the afternoon we attended the skippers briefing and then at 6pm went along to the reception and prize giving at the marina building. Various local government departments hosted the party which was great fun, as usual. A group of children entertained us. They are part of a Government scheme for young people, aged between ten and fifteen, from very deprived backgrounds. The scheme currently caters for 3000 children.
Tuesday morning I continued with de-rusting the boat but it rained on my parade, thus reducing the time I was able to do the job unless I wanted to get wet. I shall have to finish off the work another day.
Dick spent Tuesday morning filling in forms for the HSBC fraud department, entering details of 39 fraudulent withdrawals.
Five cruise ships spent the day here.
In the evening we joined John and Jenny from Tzigany, along with their daughter Lela and her partner Chris, and David and Susan from Voyageur, for a simply splendid meal on the seafront, to celebrate Jennyâs birthday. The evening started with drinks on board Tzigany.
As we walked to the restaurant, we passed a beach where there appeared to be some upturned, dinghy style, wooden boats. Looking more closely, it seemed that these were actually peopleâs homes and we watched as one guy made up his bed underneath the boat, got inside and let the boat settle again on the ground. Returning later that evening, we passed a couple of other people on the beach, where they seemed to live. One had a wood fire going with a pot on top of the fire and a bowl of what looked like rice, at his side.
Wednesday morning at 9am, we were waiting outside the marina gates for our tourist bus, along with 8 other WARC participants, for half day historic trip around the old city of Salvador.
The architecture is stunning, albeit a lot of it needs a great deal of TLC. Despite the shabby exteriors, the interiors of these buildings were not only massive but incredibly ornate The streets are cobbled and are uneven, as though they had been this way for ever. A gang of men in green overalls were repairing one section, near to the cookery school where we had lunch. Three guys in red overalls carried brooms to presumably keep the streets clean.
The lunch, a buffet selection of hot traditional food followed by a huge selection of local desserts was available. Although it was a self service buffet, we were also attended by waiters and waitresses who were learning to do the job properly.
Sao Franscisco church had 600Kgs of gold used in the interior; a rich plantation ownerâs passport to heaven.
We passed several groups of men performing what looked like some form of martial arts, although it was definitely not a contact sport, more a type of dance. They performed to the background of local music.
Our tourist guide is also a school teacher and teaches the final year of high school. He spoke very good English but for the most part, although Spanish and English is taught in school, we have met very few local people that do speak English, or another foreign language.
Children here spend 3.5hours a day taking lessons but most apparently leave school being unable to read or write. They cannot see how education could open up so many opportunities for them. However, that said, a person working in a top class hotel earns no extra money, for speaking foreign languages, so that in itself doesnât encourage them to want to bother.
Our guide told us that he should earn 1200R$ per month as a teacher but actually makes 700R$. During the summer he cannot afford to teach as he can earn 4000R$ a month as a guide.
There seem to be a lot of different types of armed police and/or security guards around. I havenât seen such an armed presence since we were in Beiruit in 2008.
To travel between sea level and the old town of Salvador, there is a lift which costs 0.15R$ per person, each way. .
At the time of our visit 2.2R$ was equal to 1â.
The electricity supply from the pontoon is 60Hz which caused the clock on the microwave to lose time. It also means that the washing machine which needs 50Hz, doesnât function properly so, when it is time to do a washing load, it is better to either switch on the generator or run off the batteries.
It seems to rain at some juncture most nights but Thursday morning it started to rain and continued on and off all day. The forecast for the next few days is more rain..