Salvador sucks balls and I hate you and hope you die

Sunday, June 19, 2005
Albergue do Peló, Salvador, BA

Filthy barbarians. Galo, next time you get married, do it in a civilized nation, not some backwater southern slum filled with thieving children and leering whores. This whole place is a cesspit and should be carpet-bombed into oblivion.

A country of extremes, one could say. We struggled bravely through the raging depths of the Brazilian winter, enduring light breeze after light breeze as we wandered the powdery, 80 degree beaches. Escaping the hollow, acrid Pelourinho, if only for a few hours, was a breath of fresh air in every sense. Our trustworthy innkeeper told us which beach was cleanest and least touristy (Itapuã), and we spent the day navigating the bus system and playing capoeira in the sand.

Again, it is our blessing and our curse, capoeira. The signal playing capoeira on the beach sends to vendors, with all its associations with poverty, crime, and general misanthropy, is stronger than attraction from our other signals: clean, English t-shirts, baseballs hats, pale skin… And so they avoided us. Such a respite, though admittedly the praia vendors are much classier and more manageable than the street ones. Also, a note for the adventurer: Don’t order arruginhosomethingsomething, a Bahian dish that apparently translates to “Sawdust and Pigeon Crap”.

Crimson and grinning, we returned to our old haunt, rejuvenated and prepared to deal with snarling, desperate street rats.

Last night, a relentless and overtly shady beggar followed us for half an hour, alternately threatening and reassuring us in his raspy Portuguese. Nate eventually bought him off; I wouldn’t even speak to the scum. Tonight, we survived our first attempted mugging. Childish and ill-fated as it was, the threat of violence by three snarling Bahianos was still frightening. We stood our ground, of course. Police, ample lighting, and the invincibility of youth are all strong allies, especially against stupid teenage thugs. Still, we headed back to the hotel, more angry than afraid. Fucking brutes. The nightlife in this hole alternates between adventure and chore, between stress and relaxation. I tire of the bullshit, I tire quickly.

The point being that this is not what we want to deal with on our “vacation”. I am not a bank nor a church, I work for my money and will defend myself from threats. I feel obligated to point out that we are, in almost every respect, anti-tourists. All we have in common with the trundling, camera-laden cattle that spill off various air conditioned buses in search of a souvenir culture and a new chapter for the scrapbook is nationality and skin color. To assault a person who a) is obviously not wealthy, even by Brazilian standards b) has the respect and decency to learn Portuguese and capoeira and c) is friendly to every native is fucking stupid from all points of view. You hurt only yourself, your reputation as a city, and your tourism business you idiot scum.

Put down your knife, learn to read, and leave me the fuck alone.

I can hear you cowards sniveling now, talking shit from the bowels of your soulless Pasadena tract-house about economic disparities and the horrors of white imperialism. Racism and Prejudice and Arrogance, oh my!

Lick my balls hippy.

Common human decency knows no tax bracket. There are asshole street vendors and polite, friendly ones just as there are respectful tourists and awful ones. Five reais from my pocket can’t save you, son. I can offer halting conversation, perhaps a handshake or two, but my money is my own. Life is hard for everyone, regardless. Crime and violence only exacerbate the problem, rapaz. I don’t want to buy drugs or women or tacky jewelry, so fuck off or be nice.

Such contrasts. Grins and clapping from homeless but excessively talented Bahiano children as they watch us play capoeira on the beach. Threats and shouts and hate on the steps of a 400 year old church. Strange days, friends.

I’ve had enough of this town. Tomorrow, we’ll sack up and do some touristy shit, buy a cheap t-shirt and a stack of postcards which I don’t feel like writing, then find the god damn bus station to escape this nightmare slum. A vision haunts my dreams, a toothless Bahiano screaming for my blood and pocket change, with a lasso made of Bonfim bracelets and a black machete, riding atop a cockroach the size of a boar. Good luck, assholes. We Americans are not all afraid of foreigners, despite our Noble President’s best attempts, and you’ll have to pry my silly pink money from my cold, dead fingers you fuckers.

All is not lost. Anger will fade, and a high five or a newly explained Portuguese slang phrase from a waiter or random Brasileiro will help me remember why I like this shirt-hole country so much. At least I’ll get some good images out of it. I’ll end with one, before I head through the thronging Bahianos, across the street to get food. Our hostel’s “lobby”, a dusty, brick-floored room filled with Skol crates and sticky, unbalanced wooden tables faces the street through two wrought iron gates. I’m sitting in a dirty pair of jeans and nothing else, watching the raucous traffic scurry about on late Sunday night. A fat dude across the street is arguing with a little girl about fish, I think. Goddamn kids talk too fast, and never enunciate. The creepy night clerk is milling around the next room nervously, waiting for the strange American to leave so he can get back to whatever creepy shit he does in the lobby throughout the wee hours. Savages.

Trevor’s Brazil Travel Tips For The Day:
1) Never trust a hooker’s food recommendation, you get a bowl full of tooth-shattering Bahian foodtrocity that even the roaches won’t touch.
2) Keep walking. Anyone without a uniform that tells you to stop wants yo shizzle.
3) Cabs don’t stop for shit. You must be quick like fox.

Live, from the Heart of Darkness
-T.

10ish, Sunday
Lobby of Albergue do Pelo
which smells a little like pee.

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