The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


Picture Time! Hooray!
October 3, 2008, 11:47 am
Filed under: Brazil

Alright, here are the highlights of Brazil, in pure photographic picture form without all the verbs, nouns, and other hoohah that I always put in my blog posts.

http://picasaweb.google.com/jeffwheeland/Brasil?authkey=53-FItV9-S0#

Enjoy.

 

 

Hello, I'm Jeff Wheeland.  Nice to meet you.

Hello, I am Jeff Wheeland. Nice to meet you.



Brazilian Conclusions
September 29, 2008, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Brazil

Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

Sniff…sniff.  I left Brasil.

It’s not you, Brasil.  It’s me.

I had to do it.  After seven glorious weeks, it was time to go.

As I drove across the border, overlooking the Paraguai River that divides Brasil and Argentina, I nearly opened the door of the car, flung myself overboard, and swam back into the waiting arms of a friendly Brasileira, who would, undoubtedly, nurse me back to health.  Maybe, even “naughty” nurse me back to health, if you know what I mean…wink, wink.

Alas, I stayed in the car.  It was time to give Argentina a chance.  So, upon arrival in this non-Brazilian country, I wandered off into the wilderness to think about my experiences in the tremendous Eden that is Brasil.

As I started to ruminate about Megafox and the water buffaloes of Ihla do Marajó, I began to softly weep.

When I thought of frolicking on the sand dunes and crystal-clear lagoons of Parque Lençois Maranhense, the trickle of weeping quickly turned to sobs, and a stream of tears began to form on the nearby ground.

As I pondered the refreshing, ice-cold beer and Caipirinha-induced hangovers with whom I frequently found company, the stream of sobs turned to a small river.  And the river runs through it…not totally sure what “it” is, but the river definitely runs through it.

Upon musing about Salvador’s crazed African Candomblé religious ceremonies that we enchantedly watched while church members were put into a deity-induced trance and I was cleansed of my sins by a cigar-smoking, cachaca-drinking priest, the river of tears began to flood the plains.

While reflecting upon the magical Happiest Farm on Earth, its tiny houses, and delightfully obese dog, the tears began to flood Argentina’s lands, and form a giant flowing mass of water.

Finally, upon thinking about the friendliness of Brazilian females and their love of Samba, Skol beer, and foreign blond-haired men, I had enough.  The sobs were continuing unabated from my eyes, and little did I know, that downstream, a great event was occurring from the river of tears — one that would be my final homage to this great, great land, known as Brasil.

The local indigenous people have come to name this phenomenon Las Cataratas de Iguaçu, or Iguaçu Falls. These sob-induced falls now cross the borders of both Argentina and Brasil.  I have even heard that there are now full national parks, complete with tourist facilities, in both countries as a monument to a gringo’s seven breathtaking weeks in Brasil.

So, that is it.

Goodbye Brasil.  You’ve taught me to dominate the sport of Paddleball, to inhale Caipirinhas, to be a frenzied futébol lunatic, to run-in-place or “dance” the Samba, to unconditionally love Megafox, to ride water buffalo, to clandestinely snap photos of bikini-clad, beach bunny Brasileiras in Ipanema, to speak Portugunol, to never, ever, ever swim in the alligator- and piranha-saturated waters of the Pantanal, and, most importantly, you’ve taught me that you are a phenomenal country that should have its secondary national anthem be:

“And Iiiiiiiiiiiii eeeee iiiiiiiii, will alwaaaaaays looooooove yooouuuuuuuuuuuu…”

Thumbs up, Brasil.  Thumbs up.

You’re up Argentina, but you’ve got a lot of work to do.  I’d suggest starting straight off with…oh, I don’t know…maybe a foursome to get you set in the right direction.

I’ll be waiting.



The Pantanal
September 25, 2008, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Brazil

After leaving behind the giant beavers of Rio and Sao Paolo (and the women they are attached to), I headed out West in search of the Giant Beaver of the Pantanal.

Toucans...or TWOcans. Pun intended. Holy shit that's funny.

Toucans...or TWOcans. Pun intended. Holy shit that's funny!

For those not in the know, the Pantanal is the world’s largest marshland, 262,000 square kilometers, over 20 times larger than the Everglades in the US.  This area is very well preserved by the Brazilian government, and is one of the best places on Earth to see abundant wildlife: anteaters, jaguars, armadillos, alligators, piranhas, toucans, Giant River Otters, Giant Anacondas, Giant Rodents, and, with any luck, the Giant Beaver.

Alligators and the Pantanal -- more common than Stank on a Frenchman.

Alligators and the Pantanal -- more common than Stank on a Frenchman.

After taking a 20 hour bus across the country far into Nowheresville, I started seeing animals everywhere.  Colorful toucans flying overhead, emus charging around weirdly, capybaras (giant hampsters) standing there looking stupid, alligators menacingly eyeballing the stupid capybaras, um…what else…kangaroos bouncing gleefully, polar bears nursing their young, eh…teradactyls playing poker…

Ok, so I made up those last few.  But, I saw tons of animals, and this was still on the bus.  The next morning, myself, two Australian girls, and a bunch of French clowns took a jeep down the wilderness road to search for more animals.  After 15 minutes of driving, our guide jumped out of the car and spotted fresh jaguar tracks on the ground.  It is very, very rare to spot jaguars in the wild, so we looked around for awhile, but it was gone.  I suggested we use one of the French people as bait, but after a couple of hours of waiting, not even this plan could entice a jaguar out of hiding.  I guess even the mighty jaguar of the Pantanal is no match for the mighty stink that emanates from a Frenchman’s armpits.

Macaws -- Um...nothing really funny to say about them.

Macaws. Um...nothing really funny to say about them.

As we moved on, we spotted an incredible assortment of animals just lying around, without a care in the world.  Monkeys, macaws, snakes, lizards, alligators, birds, and more birds, not to mention even more of the animals I spotted from the bus.  My favorite animal is henceforth the Giant Hampster, because it is so stupid looking, and makes amusing noises when it becomes terrified as a gringo chases after it.

Piranhas -- Who's eating who now, lil' fishy?

Piranhas -- Who's Eating Who Now, Lil' Fishy?

The next day we tried our hand at piranha fishing.  I guess technically, “tried” isn’t quite the appropriate word, because all it took was putting beef on your hook, lowering it in the water, and lifting within 3 seconds with a piranha on the hook.  These little bastards are terrifyingly aggressive.  Our guide told us a story about a tourist who was boating at night, crashed, gashed his head, and fell in the water.  Within one minute, he was completely eaten by piranhas.  Yikes.  There will be no swimming for yours truly, Lord only knows what they’d do to this sweet, sweet man flesh.

Yowza.  Anywho, these dumb little fish were so nuts for meat that we even chopped up a piranha we had caught, baited the hook with it, and, within 3 seconds, caught another piranha.  Filthy cannibals.  As we got more and more bored, we invented a game enjoyed by man and alligator alike: man catches a piranha, smashes it against the boat, then carefully hurls it to a nearby alligator to catch.  I call it “Ultimate Piranha.”  After tiring of this lovely game, we had caught our share of piranhas for a the night’s meal of fried piranha and piranha soup (which our guide creepily called “Brazilian Viagra”).  A meal suited for a erectile-disfuctional King.

Them Gators is Good Eatin'

Them Gators is Good Eatin'

After our fishing adventure, we took a boat trip up river in search of more animals.  Again, this was not very difficult.  There are alligators lining the shores up and down the river, and other animals flying, jumping, and frolicking about everywhere you look.  We hiked up a small mountain in the middle of the marshes, and looked out on complete and total wilderness, without a sight of human settlement.

Alas, the elusive Giant Beaver was nowhere to be found.

Monkeys gearing up to throw some feces at us.

Monkeys gearing up to throw some feces at us.

That night we went out on a nighttime boat tour, and as our guide flashed a spotlight around, we saw hundreds of alligator eyes staring back at us.  These little creepers were sneaking around everywhere, mainly because they are protected by the government so that the locals can’t eat them, or make them into leather boots, leather hats, leather sunglasses, or leather chaps, Brokeback Pantanal-style.  Unfortunately, we did not see any other animals that night, and another boat driver came back and told us we missed a jaguar by about 15 minutes.  Drat.

Thus, while we missed the opportunity to see any anacondas (and I was unable to yell “There’s snakes out der dis big?!”), saw no jaguars, and confirmed that the only Giant Beavers in Brazil were fueled by Samba music and Skol beer, the Pantanal gets a giant A+ in my book.  This place is amazing, full of wildlife, untouched nature, and man-eating animals just itching to play a game of “Ultimate Piranha.”

Capybaras -- Giant Hampsters

Capybaras -- Giant Hampsters



I Love You, Rio de Janeiro
September 22, 2008, 8:26 am
Filed under: Brazil
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. One the most marvelous cities on Earth.

Sure, it’s horribly dangerous. Sure, there are terrible slums that are stacked right on top of all parts of the city, rich and poor. Sure, the inequality is astounding and disturbing.

But, holy shit, is it still a beautiful city.

Lush rolling mountains dot the hillsides, and drop right into the clear blue Atlantic Ocean. The Pao de Azucar — a huge, cliff-sided, granite rock — sits right in the middle of the bay. A giant Jesus statue on top of one of the mountains overlooks the city saying “Hey Brazilians, I can see you sinning. But it’s cool, I couldn’t be mad at you lovable rascals.” And of course, there are beaches that stretch for miles and miles, full of scantily clad Brasileiras that don’t really mind a blond-haired, blue eyed foreigner is pretending to take pictures of the ocean, but really snapping photos of their hindquarters.

Pao de Açucar -- A Big Ass Rock

Pao de Açucar -- A Big Ass Rock

Now, however, for the first time in two months, I am traveling alone. My travel buddy, Pat, left. I am alone. So alone, so cold. Darkness seems to envelop everything. I lost a solid wingman, a good translator, and a technically-sound drinking partner. He was “Goose” and I, of course, was “Maverick” (although he seemed to attract the more handsome ladies an unnervingly disproportionate amount of the time)…but fuck that, this is my story, so I’m Maverick. In fact, he’s not even Goose, he’s just some air traffic controller at the fighter jet school. Yeah. That’s it. If there’s ever a “Top Gun 7: Out of Control Love Traffic” maybe Pat can be the star and win all the female air traffic controllesses…but I’m not bitter.

Anywho, now, as a solo traveler in Rio, I did what anyone else would do. Find some people to go out with, and meet some Cariocas (women from Rio). And this I did. I headed out with some Germans that I met in Salvador a week earlier, and hit up Rio’s crazy party part of town, Lapa. This place is right next to a favela, but the danger of the area only adds to the excitement of the giant clubs. Upon entering, the place was full of a 15 member band, and one thousand Brazilians, whose body parts were swinging wildly about in what they call “Samba.”

The Beach in Ipanema...Wait, what's that on the left?

The Beach in Ipanema...Wait, what's that on the left?

Now, as far as I can tell, Samba dancing is physically impossible for non-Brazilians. The first time I attempted it, I dislocated both of my hips, ruptured my spleen, exploded both of my kneecaps, and somehow managed to burn off one of my eyebrows. After a couple weeks in the hospital, this night in Lapa was my chance to try again. I realized now that Samba is not my most fluent dance step (clearly, for me, this is the “Smiling Slow Roger Running Man,” a combination of the Roger Rabbit and Running Man, all performed in slow motion with a big shit-eating grin on my face) but in order to meet the locals, I had to do something. So I just started running in place, then managed to blend in a couple of steps from the “Funky Chicken,” all the while whistling a song I thought could pass as Brazilian Samba.

Jesus and I -- The Gruesome Twosome

Jesus and I -- The Gruesome Twosome

Surprisingly, this was sufficient; I think not so much for being mistaken as a Samba dance move, but mainly because it drew the attention of local Cariocas who wandered over to see: 1) why there was a dying antelope flopping around on the dance floor; and 2) why it was whistling “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

Alas, one Carioca got close enough to get tangled in my flailing limbs and was forced to dance with me until the Jaws of Life were found to release her from my flesh trap. But, as time went on, she took a liking to this simple-minded foreigner, and started teaching me slow-mo Samba.

Unfortunately, teaching me Mandarin Chinese in 45 minutes would have been simpler than teaching me Samba, but this little vixen stuck around through constant toe crushings, until we ending up doing routine dental checkups on each other with our tongues.

Oh, to be in love with a 21 year old Brazilian woman. While solo travel can be difficult for some, Rio de Janeiro can much it much, much easier on a man, as it’s one of the coolest places on Earth. Although, in reality, hanging out with a 21 year old Brazilian could almost even make Caracas into one of the coolest places on Earth.

Almost.



Oh. My. God.
September 8, 2008, 10:46 am
Filed under: Brazil
Brazilians like futébol.  Not soccer, not football, but futébol.  Technically, they are all the same sport, but futébol does something strange to Brazilians.  Like a crackhead on PCP, futébol induces lunacy, shrieking, singing, dancing, and pure, unbridled mania in a Brazilian spectator.
 
It is awesome.
 
Last Sunday, I went with my three Germans friends to a game at the venerable Maracaná stadium in Rio de Janeiro.  Take the history of Lambeau Field and Yankee Stadium, combine it with the insanity of the Oakland Coliseum when Raiders fans are really, really wound up on “Free Knife and Booze Day,” multiply that by fourteen, and you have Maracaná.  This place is the Mecca of futébol for Brazilians.  Every child in this country grows up dreaming of playing here; or if they suck at futébol, at the very least pummeling a rival fan here. 
 
Luckily for us, the game that Sunday involved a showdown of epic proportions.  We got to witness two teams from Rio playing each other.  Fluminense, the generally poorer team with heavy support from the favela communities, was playing Flamengo, the rich, snobby team with the majority of fans throughout Rio.  Normally, I’d jump on the bandwagon for Fluminense in a heartbeat, but being a foreigner and fearing being de-limbed by rabid fans, whom would then use my legs for bats, my torso as a stand, and my head as a whiffle ball, we held off choosing a team until we got an idea where we were sitting.
 
Before the game, as we were herded in with another group of frightened foreigners, we watched as two horse-riding police slapped a fan, then pulled out their beat sticks to teach him a lesson.  I’m not totally sure what that lesson was, probably something to do with not barbecueing and consuming tourists, when the guy yelled something from his group of friends and the cops said “Okay, okay, we’re leaving.”  This made me slightly nervous.
 
However, upon entering the game, we found out that we were Flamengo fans, as most of the 60,000 people sitting near us were wearing the red and black of my newly adopted team.  Wearing any other color would invite a quick death.  Mercifully, we sat down in the upper levels of Maracaná, as fans enjoy throwing things at the fans in the lower section, such as lit flares, fireworks, smoke bombs, and cups full of urine. 
 
Before the game even started, the fans got pretty fired up.  First, the drums started.  Not just one drum, but probably at least 25, and they didn’t stop until the game ended.  Tens of thousands of fans were jumping up and down in unison, singing the songs of Flamengo, which generally included poetic hymns describing the rape and murder of Fluminense fans.  Next, about 100 giant Flamengo flags started moving their way around the stands swaying to and fro, celebrating what would be a crushing defeat of their rivals, or at least a massacre of their families and children if Flamengo was to lose.  Next, small plastic bags of cut up newspaper were thrown around to all fans from section to section, to be chucked into the air when Flamengo took the field.  Finally, the coup-de-gras, the flares started up.  Not just a few of them, but literally hundreds of flares and fireworks around the stadium.
 
Then, suddenly, the place exploded.  I quickly pooped my pants in surprise, and upon being covered in shredded newspaper, I fired my newspaper into the air, and my team, Flamengo, was taking the field.  I was instantaneously a Flamengo fan, and I suddenly realized that all of my life, I had hated Fluminense and all of their wretched, scoundrel fans. 
 
Again, the place was saturated in deafening songs, horns, drums, fireworks, and the two dudes sitting in front of me started cursing like 14th-century Portuguese pirates.  While I do not speak Portuguese very well at all, my virgin ears were accosted by well over 4,784 curse words such as “puta” and “porra de caralho” which I’m pretty sure mean “jerkhole” and “crud factory”.
 
And, with all of this, the game hadn’t even started yet.
 
When it did start, both the Flamengo fans and the Fluminense were going berserker.  But, there were a whole lot more of us Flamengans, so we drowned out those trecherous buggers from Fluminense.  That is, until Fluminense scored.  The place went eerily quiet, except the taunts from Fluminense.  I expected a tactical nuke to be launched from our stands over at them, but instead the Flamengans just started cheering even louder than before, until a nice pass into the box turned into a…
 
…GOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
I’ve never seen anything like the reaction to this goal at any sporting event in my life. 
 
I quickly did what I generally do in surprising situations, and pooped my pants again.  Then, we all started jumping, dancing, screaming, drumming, lighting flares, shooting fireworks, swinging flags, and taunting those fools from Fluminense for their pitiful performance as soccer fans.  The place was bumping and grooving for at least 20 minutes after the goal, until Fluminense had the nerve to score again.  Those bastards.
 
At this point, a couple of our Flamengo fans started booing our own goalie, and the dude in front of me was not too impressed.  He addressed these people gently, but firmly, (and I directly quote) “I wish you were sitting in my row, because I would murder you.”  This did not seem like an idle threat.
 
As the game went on, it looked more and more likely that we would lose, and a complete riot would ensue outside, until the last two minutes when a quick cross reached a Flamengo head, and it was planted in the corner of the net…
 
…GOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Mercifully, the game ended with a riot-stalling 2-2 tie.  This day, no one would be killed, and no tourist would be drawn and quartered.
 
But, holy God in heaven, did Brazilians prove to me they are the undefeated, heavyweight champion of Craziest Futébol Fans on Earth. 


Rogelio and the Paddleball
September 3, 2008, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Brazil
Rogelio and I Battling it Out for Paddleball Glory

Rogelio and I Battling it Out for Paddleball Glory

Venturing out from the tourist inundation of the Pelourinho, Pat and I decided to take a trip to outer Salvador, for one last day at the beach.  After hopping a bus to what seemed to be one of many very nice beaches, we arrived at a smallish sand pile with some monstrous waves and lifeguards who did not like people entering the water, mainly because they didn’t feel like recovering a bloated gringo from the sea.  This combination of lack of nice beach and death-defying surf led to one simple conclusion:

PADDLEBALL!!!!

Now, one of the best purchases we made in Venezuela (other than the bulletproof suit of armor) was two wooden paddles, bearing two names: “Sports” on one side, and “Champion” on the other.  Along with these paddles, which were clearly named after the Sports Champion Jeff Wheeland, came a small blue ball, which was obviously intended for paddling.  For those that have never heard of this delightful game, have never been to a beach, or are terrorists, this game is played by using the “paddles” to “paddle” the “ball” back and forth to the other player.  Hence the name, Paddleball.  Creative, no?

So, after playing with these marvelous toys for almost two months, Pat and I pretty much became two of the greatest players in the grand history of the sport.  Our best record was 54 (!) paddled balls in a row…wow, that sounded kinda gay.  However, in a completely ungay amazing feat of amazingness, this day was one for the record books.  Now, I could thrill all of you with the details of each ball paddled back and forth, but instead I will just tell you our new records, in chronological order: 55, 71, 149, 202.  Feel free to be amazed and/or dumbfounded.  If this feeling of dumbfounded amazement is insufficient, you can send me an envelope with $50 in it, and I will return it with 14 business days with a signed topless photo of yours truly.

So, after destroying the all-time Paddleball record, a 14 year old Brazilian kid had wandered over to watch.  After signing his shirt, and letting him bask in the glory that is “Team Wonderball” (which is our traveling group name), this kid asked if he could play.  For the next hour and a half, Pat, me, and our new buddy Rogelio (pronounced Ho-jay-lio) rotated in and out, and would have wowed legions of adoring she-fans with our incredible skills.  Rogelio was not quite as talented as we (but, in reality, only Jesus himself probably is), and he continually apologized for missing the ball, or hitting it away.  After assuring this kind little rascal it was not a problem, we played and played and played.  His thirst for Paddleball was akin to my thirst for ice-cold Brazilian beers, and sun-hot Brazilian women.
Pat and Rogelio in a Paddleball Deathmatch

Pat and Rogelio in a Paddleball Deathmatch

During a lull in action, Rogelio began to explain to us what he does in Salvador and why he was at the beach that day.  It seems that Rogelio hops on the bus every morning in Salvador, rides it all day long all over the city, and plays a plastic flute for change.  It was pretty clear that he lives in the favelas, and he told us he was at the beach that day to bathe.  It was an incredibly sad story, especially coming from such a nice, young kid.

At the end of the games, Pat and I discussed that this being our last day of beach time on the trip, we should give the Paddleball set to Rogelio.  After a few times of explaining to him in broken Portuguese that we were giving it to him as a gift, his eyes lit up, he drew a ear to ear grin, and said “Woooow, obrigado!”  I am fairly convinced this was the one of the few gifts he ever received.

He then invited us to listen to him play his flute, and we of course obliged.  While we walked across the beach to where he stashed his flute, he continuously thanked us for the Paddleball set, and couldn’t stop smiling.  When we finally reached the lifeguard stand where he hid his flute, Rogelio regaled us with a fun little song that sounded vaguely familiar, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it.  But when he hit the chorus, it became oh-so-clear:

“Near, faaaaaar, wherEVER you aaaaaaare…”

You guessed it, Celine Dion’s masterpiece “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic.  After inducing a passion-inspired euphoria, we belting out the entire song along with Rogelio’s flute accompaniment. When he stopped playing, the passion overcame me, and I wept.  I just get so emotional when I hear Celine Dion.

It’s my one weakness.

Then the lifeguards had him play a few more songs, and we all chatted, and when they asked Rogelio how he met us, he replied “These are my amigos!” with a huge smile on his face.  This poor little kid’s gratitude was so incredible, especially just for a simple thing as a Paddleball set.  It was such a great feeling giving it to him, and seeing how much it meant to him.  I only wish it were possible to give him something more; something that could help him out of his current social situation and give him the chance of a better life.  The saddest part is that Brazil has an innumerable amount of these stories and has such a long way to go to solve its terribly complicated problems of inequality and poverty.

But, it gives me some comfort knowing that, with something as simple as a Paddleball set, we were able to bring some happiness into the life of one of these unfortunate kids.

And now, rest assured, when Paddleball becomes an Olympic sport, and I see Rogelio standing on the gold medal platform, I will be there, passionately shrieking “Near, faaaaaar, wherEVER you aaaaaaare…”


The Dark Side of Brazil
September 3, 2008, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Brazil
 
The Pelourinho in Salvador
The Pelourinho in Salvador

While Brazil is most likely the greatest country on this giant rock spinning uncontrollably through space, there are some things that aren’t quite as wonderful as one would hope.

 
For the first time on this trip, we encountered some of these issue when we arrived to Salvador, the third largest city in Brazil.  While Salvador is a beautiful colonial city with amazing architecture, and a strong African cultural vibe, there is an eerie aura that hovers over the town.  Stemming from Salvador’s dark past when it was the main port for the Portuguese slave trade, the legacy of these horrific centuries still lingers today.  The main tourist, cultural, and governmental center of the city, the Pelourinho, literally means “Whipping Post”.  Many stories abound in this area of hauntings of old buildings all around town.  However, the more disturbing legacy is that of the favelas, or a shanty towns, and the awful disparity between the huge majority of their inhabitants, unimaginably poor blacks, and the rest of the city.  There is no doubt that slavery over 400 years ago has led to this poverty and subsequent palpable danger within Salvador.
 
Upon arrival, we got our posada room in the Pelourinho, in the heart of the most touristy section of this colonial city.  However, while the sights were really beautiful, the area was located directly next to a favela, built haphazardly in the hills.  For the first time in Brazil, we were confronted with the serious inequality that is horribly apparent in this country.  Young children begging in the street with no shoes, homeless women with babies sleeping on streetcorners, people rummaging through every open garbage can, and obvious crack addicts (that wouldn’t share their crack) harrassing passersby for money were the norm in this area. 
 
Now, I understand that Latin America is rife with terrible poverty and inequality.  But, I’ve never seen such a direct contrast between the haves and have-nots like Brazil.  Directly next to this extreme poverty are massive, intricate governmental buildings, expensive tourist hotels, and luxurious homes.  And, while the situatino in the Pelournihno is definitely exacerbated by the fact that it is full of tourists and located right next to a favela, it is pretty shocking to see the dark side of Brazil.
The Elevator from the Lower Cidade to the Pelourinho

The Elevator from the Lower Cidade to the Pelourinho

 
And, while this was sad and disturbing to see, what was almost worse was the street vendors in the Pelourinho.  While walking down the street, it was impossible to avoid people handing out flyers for restaurants, stopping you to ask “Where you from? Come take this tour!” or trying to sell you some shitty trinkets such as a plastic statue of Jesus or a T-shirt emblazoned with “Brazil is neato” or some other crap.  The most irritating people, however, were the restaurant hawks.  These sons-of-bitches would get in your face as you walked by and say “Come to this restaurant.”  One time, and one time only, did we make the mistake of speaking to one of these fuckers.  It was a major lapse in judgment.
 
This dude walked us to one restaurant after another, until we finally said “We don’t really know what we want to eat, so we’ll just figure it out on our own, thanks.”  He didn’t get it, and continued following us around.  Finally, we said kindly “Go fire yourself off a cliff, or we shall do it for you.”  When we finally got to a restaurant, this shithead saw us, and had the nerve to yell at us for not letting him take us to this restaurant.  At this point I snapped, and picked him up like Darth Vader picking up the Emperor in “Return of the Jedi” and kept my promise and fired him off a cliff.
 
Eerie Salvador at Night

Eerie Salvador at Night

After a couple of days of dealing with this nightmare, we finally went to a bar with the crazy German guys we met, way outside of the Pelourinho.  This place was clean, full of Brazilians, no tourists, and had no sign of the plague of flyer-hander-outers anywhere.  It was nice, but was clearly a wealthy neighborhood that does a sadly efficient job of burying the unwanted side of Brazil.

 
So, although this city was really rough and sketchy, Salvador did a good job of showing that while Brazil is really far advanced of most developing countries in environmental protection, economy, and gorgeous women, it still has a lot of work to do to elimate some very serious problems.  And, it also brings to the present the horrible past of slavery and European conquest of the world.
Fucking Euros.
 
And, if Brazil wants help, I would be more than happy to throw multiple flyer people off cliffs for them.  Free of charge.  And, on the bright side, the beer in Salvador is still really, really cold.