We flew here. It's not like we got sick of buses, I actually almost miss the crippling pain in my back and the smell of the portable lavatory, but it was simply cheaper to fly then to take the bus. The whole plane thing, though, actually threw us off. In a night we went back to being wide eyed tourists who fall for all those little tricks the local come up with to get their money. In Salvador, it's these colorful ribbons. I think in actuality they are supposed to be worn by believers of a religious strain, but the local beggars use them as conversation starters. "A gift. For you," they say, and go on to explain how this is very spiritual and unique to their culture. How life here is difficult and for us might be dangerous so we should not walk down that street over there and he himself, by the way, is living on the street and has a baby, and the baby has AIDS, so could he please have some money to buy some milk for the baby. Now, what do you say to that? "I gave money to a foundation that helps kids with AIDS." I actually just did, not even two days ago and have the pin to prove it, but my comment was met with a bank stare. Like this is going to help him even if he has the baby. I gave him the change in my pocket, and he simply turned around and left. You're welcome. After a few incidents like this, Shurik and I decided we spoke no other language than Russian. Communicating only meant being asked for money, and it's a shame – Salvador is very rich with African culture that we so wanted to explore and now were reluctant to. Keeping to ourselves, we still managed to see a lot. The local Capoeira artists swinging and jumping around each other in circles of clapping to the beat onlookers; the Berimbau – a musical instrument I'd never seen before; and the Baianas - women in their traditional enormous skirts.
Here, in Salavador, we also witnessed a whole nation's devastation. We watched the Franco-Brazilian game unable to stop pondering the repercussions. If Brazil wins, there's going to be a happy, out of control riot. If they don't, there's no way to know what will they do. I remember how on Ilha Grande we were watching a game against Japan and the first goal was scored by the opponent. We expected an outrage, booing, and profanities, but all we heard was silence. For a minute or two the place became a ghost town. It was down right scary. Brazil did eventually win that game though. Not this time. Brazil's heroes have let it down, and we retreated into the safety of our hostel. Just in case.
To say the least, we have underestimated the Brazilian spirit and its ability to dust off and keep the party going. That very night there were sounds of celebration on the street, and when we came out, this is what we saw (among other things). Three men, accompanied by a slew of drums, were leading a procession of mainly tourists who were performing aborigine like dance moves to the example of the men and the beat of drums. Shirts were off, and people were drenched in sweat trying to keep up. The whole thing looked like a deranged aerobics class that we would have probably joined if only we had a few more drinks in us. Instead, we watched from the sidelines taking pictures and shooing away beggars and kids selling cheap necklaces to the crowd.
The festivities didn't end there. It happened to be that the next day was the Bahian Independence Day, and the town erupted in a colorful parade.