It was Tuesday 10 December at approximately 3am and our alarm went off. We had a taxi picking us up just before 4am, so we slowly got ready. The taxi arrived and left, he didn’t see us waiting outside, so he drove off, what’s the chance we are going to wait outside on the street in Woodstock at 4am. Anyways, he came back, fetched us and took is to the Cape Town International Airport.
Our flight was only at 6am, so we arrived with plenty of time. The SAA check-in counters were not even open yet, so we queued with all the rest of the people. The first leg of our flight was to OL Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, from there we checked our luggage through to Sao Paulo and waited for our flight to start board.
Barbara and I have a tradition of buying some goodies at duty free, we bought our usual 2 liter bottles of hard tack, 2 bottles of perfume and some M&Ms. This always signifies the start of one of our epic overseas trips, this would be a special trip as it was our first trip to Brazil and our first Universo Parralello festival.
Our flight to Sao Paulo went without a hitch, we landed and got our bags, then we headed to the domestic part of the airport to check-in for our last flight to Salvador. While we waited, we tried our first Brazilian beer and I bought some Havaianas. We had a fairly long wait before our Salvador flight and it was slightly delayed, which after a long journey felt like an eternity.
We eventually boarded the plane, it was a 2 hour flight to Salvador. The day really felt like it was lagging, but it was probably because we were tired. We had arranged for somebody to fetch us, we were concerned because our flight was late and when we walked out nobody was waiting for us… It turned out that our driver was waiting at the wrong side of the airport, so once we found him we packed our stuff into the car and headed to our hotel called Bahia Cafe. The drive from the airport was about 50 minutes, so along the way our driver Paulo filled us in about the history of Salvador and some tips on what not to do.
We only checked in around 11:30pm at Bahia Cafe, but that was no problem, we were glad to be settled. We both took a quick shower and hit the town, because Tuesday nights were party night. We took to the streets and bought a famous local drink called Caiparinha made with lime, sugar and Cachasa. We kept walking, the streets were fairly quiet, but we could hear music, so we decided to sniff out the party.
The buildings all looked so old, but had beautiful architecture. Drink number one died quickly, but around about the same time we found where the music was coming from and where to buy another Caiparinha. Feeling festive, we decided head into one of the houses where there was live music, try our hand at dancing to local tunes, at the same time we ordered our last Caiparinha, which was the cheapest and strongest drink of the night.
While tring to dance to the music, I realized I was failing badly when a local guy tried to show me the moves, it was a slow leg shaking movement, either I was too drunk or incapable of moving that way… Anyways, it was fun to watch the local people dance and have a good time. The last drink was however the nail in the coffin, Barbs and I stumbled back to the hotel with little memory of the walk back and passed out solidly.
Afro Brazilian Cultural Capital
After an incredible breakfast at Bahia Cafe and some much needed Brazilian coffee we were picked up by our driver from the night before, Paulo. He took us on a tour by car to see some of the highlights of Salvador. It was hot and humid, so we were great full to be in an air conditioned vehicle.
The tour started at the Lighthouse and the fort of the All Saints Bay, we then headed through the streets towards the market of the Lower City close to the port that brought in boats from Africa. We ascended to the Upper City and stopped at the Lecerda elevator to take in the incredible views of the bay amongst the impressive colonial structures.
Next we headed to the squares and narrow streets lined with the colorful buildings around the Pelourinho, which is considers to be the heart of Salvador and historical centre. This square still contains the whipping post where Africans were sold as slaves. Paulo filled us in with as much of the history as we could absorb. During our walk around Paulo warned us constantly not to walk down certain side alleys, actually most side alleys were a no go…
We spent the afternoon relaxing back at Bahia Cafe, our body clocks were not yet in tune with the time zone and we were extremely hungover from our Caipirinha escapades the night before. In the evening we headed out for a buffet dinner and a Capoeira show, but we faded really early and decided to sleep in preparation for our journey to Lençois the next day.