A less stressful day in Salvador

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April 10th 2016
Published: April 10th 2016
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Early 20th century ship's instrument,  Nautical Museum, SalvadorEarly 20th century ship's instrument,  Nautical Museum, SalvadorEarly 20th century ship's instrument, Nautical Museum, Salvador

Used by ship's captain to send instructions to engine room.
Got Rita to give my outfit the once over from a security point of view before I left the flat today. She speaks no English but is much better at miming than me. I was wearing my money belt hidden below my T-shirt and that was it! I put a small amount of money in my pocket for immediate use , no water bottle with me because I had no belt to fasten it to. She approved but after she had seen me struggling to remove her house keys a few times from my money belt suggested I needed a purse with a shoulder strap for these, which of course I have at home but didn't bring with me. I decided to give the 'pelourinho', the historic centred a miss, at least today. A friend of John's had just got back from a cruise which had docked at Salvador. They were only allowed to disembark escorted by the ship's crew, because Salvador was too dangerous for them, otherwise. I know that the people on the cruise would be more decrepit than me (sorry, John) but still!

Decided to start off with the maritime museum and Farol de Barra, the lighthouse and fort, which is within walking distance of the flat - in fact where I was robbed! Today there were a lot of policemen around but all clustered together which didn't strike me as the best use of resources. LP said the museum had lots of interesting exhibits on slave trading and a cafe with lovely sea views. Wrong on both counts! The cafe was closed for 'obras' - repairs. It is becoming increasingly clear that half the museums in Brazil are closed and of those that aren't, only half their facilities are open. There were some interesting exhibits but I got round fairly quickly.

The beach and sea look lovely here - they're about 50 yards from my flat. I am seriously tempted but know I would have to find somebody to look after my towel etc. I have a waterproof case which I asked for as a present specifically to protect valuables when swimming. However it now occurs to me that wearing this would be a very explicit statement that I have something to protect. Would be frightened of being attacked in the water and ending up drowned! Will have to wait for Parati to swim -

Museum of Modern Art, Salvador
what a shame.

Went back to the flat to pick up the credit card I use for withdrawing cash and as Rita was going to Barra Shopping Centre I decided to wait and go with her. Google said it was a 39 minute walk but she said it was very close - she was right and Google was wrong. Oh, the bliss of air conditioning! If I had been able to connect to free Wi-Fi I would have probably spent half the day there. As it was I had a wander round and found a bank. Both before and after withdrawing money I had to fiddle around furtively with my money belt in order to retrieve the card and then replace it with the cash. At one point it almost seemed to be falling down my tummy and I had to beat a hasty retreat to the loo to fix it!

However the shopping centre seems quite safe with plenty of security guards and everybody there looked fairly affluent. Clothes on sale there range from pretty expensive - £100 plus to cheap, less than £5. Lots of very colourful strapless, short dresses which I can't see me in although older Brazilian women seem to wear them - their arms and legs look better with a tan! Discovered the food court and remembered that a Brazilian friend had recommended I eat in them. The rest of Salvador seemed to be eating there as well. Found one with a very good buffet and actually had fish instead of chicken. They have one cafe devoted entirely to prawns and also Thai and Japanese. I will probably be back!

Unfortunately I had to go back to the flat, which is reminiscent of a sauna, to kill a bit of time before going out again.I hailed a taxi in the street with some trepidation and had the nerve to ask why the meter was showing '2' instead of '1'. Turns out it was because it was Saturday. Had decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art because LP said it had a lovely sculpture garden and cafe with great views of the sunset and there were jazz concerts there on a Saturday night. Well they were right about the concert and cafe but wrong about the sculpture garden, which was closed for repairs, and the museum itself only consisted of one large room of exhibits - the other floors were closed. However on the plus side there was a whole load of children there doing art workshops and obviously having a lot of fun.

I whiled away time in the cafe, which did have sea views, and then sat around waiting to buy tickets for the concert. Checked with one of the staff that I would be able to get a taxi back.The cost of the concert was 7.50 reais - £1.50 - because it was subsidised by the Bahia Tourist Authority and several other organisations which I didn't catch. Most of the people attending looked affluent, many of them students wearing the half price admission bands, but the museum is next to a favela. Not sure who the subsidy was intended to benefit. Got my ticket at 5 and went into the area next to the museum where the concert was being held - outside overlooking the sea. i wondered what the two notices, one saying 'masculino', the other 'femenino,' were for. It turned out they were to ensure that the men were patted down by by male security guards and the women by female ones, presumably looking for weapons. In fact they were searching very few women and waved me through.

The sun setting over the sea was pretty but unfortunately not as impressive as it might have been because of the cloudy skies. The concert was a mix of modern jazz and bossa nova and because the musicians were improvising it was called Jam no Mam ('no' means 'in the' and MAM refers to the Museum of Modern Art) . There must have been several hundred people there and some good foodstalls including one selling vegetarian pasties or empanadas made with wholemeal flour - quite good actually. As in Colombia, the food stall attendants use plastic gloves when handling the food which is reassuring. This type of music is not really my cup of tea but the musicians clearly knew their stuff. I left after an hour as my bum was going numb from sitting on a hard plastic stool. As promised, there were taxis waiting. I couldn't remember the name of the street where I am staying but describing it as opposite the little hill with Cristo Redentor on it worked fine. On the other hand, when I had to point out my street I kept saying 'aqui' instead of 'ali' which confused him somewhat. (If you say here in Portuguese this means 'near the speaker. I should have said 'ali' which means 'over there, away from us both. It works the same in Spanish.)


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