Archive for the ‘Salvador’ Category

get on the good foot

In Braaaazil, Salvador, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on November 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm

There are some Californian girls in the hostel and on their last night in Salvador they organise a night out to a club in rio vermelho, which is the modern party side of Salvador, lots of open air bars and clubs, all within a tightly packed strip of roads.

We all drink caiphrinha’s in the hostel and then load ourselves into cabs and head in the opposite direction to pelourinho, ending up in a wonderfully makeshift bar, which looks as if it’s made out of things the owners found lying around, the roof is open to the sky and when we arrive it’s pretty empty, but people keep coming and coming and coming until the place is packed.

Salvador is really humid and it’s soon a sweatbox and I’m glad i’ve nabbed a position in front of a big fan which cools me and dries my soaked shirt.

The female dj is playing lots of stuff, pretty much most of which I like, I’ve made up my mind I like her as a dj when she drops signed sealed delivered and the night gets better musically from there, she’s weaving old soul and funk tracks in with Brazilian stuff, which most of the crowd knows and sings along to and I dig it, I dance I sweat I enjoy myself and when the time comes to leave I don’t want to go.

salvador street party

In Braaaazil, Salvador, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on November 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Every Tuesday down in pelourinho they have a street party, and we as a hostel massive head down there.

I’m not sure what to expect but I’m sure it’ll be good, Salvador is a place where music is all around. I went out on a boat trip earlier in the day to itaparica and on board the boat was a little three piece, drum, tambourine and  banjo, who sang all the way along on our journey, covering all the Brazilian classics, which a group of bods in the back knew all the words to and sang along with. When your sitting in a bar/restaurant if the big screen isn’t showing football it’s showing a DVD of some live musical performance. It I’d wondrous how music is such an integrated part of life here.

So on entering the old town and walking down the cobbled streets I wasn’t surprised to see the samba band drumming away, I was surprised to see that they were all women of differing ages, banging on the drums, dancing as they maintained their rhythms and generaly just having a gay ol time. He beats were strong and we stayed and watched the crowds gather, the drum troop took up the whole width of the narrow street so people had to edge round along the very small pavement.

It felt like they would drum forever but we had more to see, further along, down one street and up another a concert was ongoing. A stage had been set up at the base of a massive set of stairs, which was filled to overflowing with people dancing and drinking as guest performers came on and played a few songs, mostly reggae, covers and originals, but it changes as one singer band was replaced by another, but the music went on and on.

I bought beers off a man working the crowd with cold tins in his rucksack, and downed them quickly as I discovered I’d got a thirst on me. Stepping from side to side, looking round constantly at the beautiful people around me. There is something very alluring and comforting to me in that mélange of colours and skin tones that brazil throws up, dark with light eyes, light with dark eyes and a whole range inbetween.

Left the concert as it was still going strong and headed back upto see the last of the drummers. But the female band had been replaced by another band with half naked men behind them exhorting the crowd to dance, changing steps and arm movements and getting the packed street behind to follow suit, soon everyone else was as sweaty as the dance leaders themselves.  As the people stepped from side to side, bumped into one of the guy who’d been on the boat tour, he’d been filming the whole thing on a hand held camera and he took us on to another club round the corner, equally packed, with a stage set up and a band playing to the dancing samba masses.


In Braaaazil, Salvador, Sud America, travelling on November 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

There is a feeling of lawlessness here in Salvador, much more than I felt in Argentina. Whether it’s the taxi drivers treating red lights as optional, or the persistent questioning of the down and out jewellery sellers, or the impassioned pleas of the little kids, it feels – not dangerous, just not as orderly I think.

The town itself, like my brief glimpse of brazil in foz da iguazcu, hints at a country more prosperous than Argentina, the roads are wider, better tarmaced, the buildings are bigger, the landscaping greener, the cars newer. The Brazilians despite the same sort of dictatorships and coups have managed to keep cleaning their house, to keep the infrastructure ticking over.

But I spent four days shuttling between the hostel and various doctors, and hospitals so I don’t have the widest view.

Last night went out to a capoeira performance and dance at a theatre down in pelourinho, the old town where your warned to take nothing but the money you need, and don’t wander off down the alleyways which line the squares. It’s all cobbled angled streets, with brightly coloured houses, 3/4 stories tall leaning inwards overhead. Music throbs from the shop and restaurant fronts, people in traditional dress try to drag you into their eateries, and I curse the fact I didn’t bring my camera. It is vibrant and loud and people still stare at me even here in brazil but it’s a shorter more appraising look, people also still think I’m American.

Look at some photographs of rio from the 50’s, compare prices on havaianas and try and drink the strongest caiparinha known to man. It’s a nice entre into Salvador and I’m happy to be out and about doing stuff.

Stinging shingles.

In Braaaazil, illness, Salvador, Sud America on August 17, 2010 at 3:35 am

So I arrive in Puerto Iguazu and see the magnificent falls, that roar and rumble all around you. I’m only supposed to be here for two days, but a piss up brewery situation with the Brazilian airline Gol! Means I can’t fly out on Saturday like I want but have to stay two more days and fly out on Monday.

I’m pissed off because it’s cutting into my Brazilian month which I’ve shortened from six weeks as I hear numerous reports of Brazil being hellish expensive, and I don’t want to get into an Australian situation where I spend obscene amounts of money doing nothing more than lounging around, drinking and eating.

I also want to get out of town early because a weeping rash has appeared at the inner part of my right elbow, at first I think it’s a particularly virulent outbreak of eczema which generally makes an appearance in spring and autumn, where there’s a bit of humidity. But I’m wrong. The weeping rash spreads quickly and crusts over in a dirty yellow fashion. I’m at a loss, I go and get some steroid cream and rub that in which seems to work a bit then, for some reason shingles pops into my head. Do a quick google ad hey presto self diagnosis is correct.

By this point the rash is behind my knees, on the outside of my other elbow, the back of my hand, at the bottom of my shins and a particularly inappropriately spot on my stomach where the waistband of my trousers rests.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time I’m traveling to Salvador, which turns out to take two more hours than it should. I’ve just spent a fevered night, wrapped up in blankets shivering, shaking and sweating, or lying on top of the covers drinking water and trying to sleep. The only thing that consoles me is the knowledge that this is my body fighting back, the shivers, the shakes, the temperature. All signs that my immune system is engaged in battle.

The pain as I pack my bags is sharp and tingling, sitting in the crook of my elbow and backs of my knees, I walk slowly as if I’ve got arthritis and carrying bags produces a sting in my elbow. The shins and knees ache constantly sometimes really sharp at others just a dull ache, but it is alway there. As I sit on the first of my three interconnecting flights, I’m glad I’ve got the row of seats to myself as I can oscillate as violently as i like without anyone noticing. I try to sleep but don’t get more than five mins dozing at a time, i am constantly checking my body for new yellow-tipped pustules, they look like mini boils and I yearn to squeeze them but the clear fluid which yellows and thickens to an unsightly crust, just spreads the infection further so I refrain.

I don’t have any urge to scratch the infected areas anymore because the constant ache dissuades me.

I’m fucked off because I know the next couple of days, possibly the next couple of weeks will be a write off, of showering, non scratching and shivering and shaking. Not how I wanted to spend my first few days in Brazil, my only consolation is the fact that the weather is a bit overcast and rainy in Salvador.

After a day of snoozing fitfully, unable to muster the strength to head anywhere apart from the toilet that is a door away. I manage to drag myself downstairs, to have a talk with the hostel owner Russell who advises me to go to the Spanish hospital, where they’ll take 2k Reais, about 700 quid, off my card just for the joy of seeing me and refund me whatever remains after treatment.

I never thought I’d spend my second night in brazil in A&E, but that’s the way the traveling cookie crumbles. So I take a thick book, pray my card works – thankfully it does, they have several different card machines for just such an eventuality, and I settle into my seat for a long night of waiting, along the way I discover I have a resting heart rate of 112bpm, my blood pressure is 130/80 and I have a fever as my temperature is 39 degrees celsius, but its taken from under my armpit which I’m told later always makes it slightly higher than if taken from a mouth reading, or god forbid, the other orifice.

So I sit and I wait and I read a little and my mouth is dry, haven’t drunk anything since breakfast in the morning, but don’t want to move in case I miss the call. I read some more and I doze a bit, then I’m called and I hobble down to the doctor’s room. I spend a frustrating few mins trying to explain its shingles, but from the looks on their faces I don’t believe they think that shingles even exists. After 3 hrs of waiting and wondering I’m given a paracetamol a script for some antibiotics and told to come back the next day to see the infectologista, as they don’t believe that what I have I shingles. So the mystery thickens. Gonna have to speak to my travel insurance people tomorrow and make sure the ball starts rolling on the claims, fees end. Only now am I hoping that the excess isn’t too high…

Wake up and head into the Hospital Espanol A&E the next day, to be told that I’ve got to go to another building across the way where the infectologista is. But lo and behold when I get there, they tell me there isn’t an infectologista in that day and there won’t be anyone in until later in the week. My portuguese isn’t good enough to explain my dismay, and their english isn’t good enough to let me work out any alternatives. I cab back to the hostel and explain the situation to Russell, who gets worked up on my behalf, and we cab back, directly to the Hospital Espanol where his portuguese is put to good effect as we work out a, there isn’t an infectologista in that day, b, I’ve still got to pay for my treatment even though nothing much was done, and c, where an infectologista is that speaks english so I can go and see them. I hand over my card so they can refund the cash they didn’t spend on my treatment, and we go over to the other building where the infectologista was supposed to be, but isn’t to find out where one would be.

Good luck at last. The first infectologista name out of the box, speaks english and can fit us in, within the next two hours. Back to the hostel for a short wait then, over to his offices. Russell stumps up for the money for the initial consultation, and the infectologista gets me to show him my pitted flesh. Turns out I didn’t have shingles, and in fact I was right it was a flare up of my ezcema, except it was exacerbated by some sort of bite/infection, which when I scratched moved bacteria which live happily on the surface of my skin into layers where they shouldn’t be. And starting an infection which was rapidly moving up my arm and legs, which he pointed out as a warm red swelling along the edge of the infection. He looked at the medicine given to me by the other hospital and threw them out, giving me a prescription for a more specific antibiotic, some steroids for my skin and an antibacterial wash that I’d have to get made up to use on my skin to kill off all traces of the malevolent bacteria, to stop me reinfecting myself.

I am greatly relieved that at last someone knows what is wrong with me and I’m on the way to being better…

If you’re squeamish I wouldn’t look at the photo’s below, before and after shots of the infection….