After returning from Uruguay and enjoying a last few days in Buenos Aires, I boarded a flight with Salvador, Brazil as my destination. The idea for the following few weeks was to slowly travel up the northeastern coast of Brazil all the way to Belem, and from there take a boat up the Amazon River to Manaus.
There were crazy winds and rain in Buenos Aires all day on the day of my departure. I though for a while that my flight might get cancelled. When the plane started to pick up speed to take off, it was swinging left and right because of the winds. For a few seconds I thought we were going to crash.
I had a crappy overnight stopover at the airport in Sao Paulo, the same one I stayed in the night before I arrived at Rio for the the World Cup Final. It brought back memories of how full of excitement and hope I was the last time I was there.
It was in Salvador where I got my first Couchsurfing experience during this trip. I was very active in the CS community back home in Los Angeles, but because of my aversion to planning too much ahead, I hadn’t had a chance until now to properly send couch request in the 3+ months of travel so far. I was hosted by a wonderful local girl named Lua, who had just returned from living almost one year in Europe.
I don’t really couchsurf to save money, since the presents I bring to hosts probably cost more than staying in hostels. I do it to get a better understanding of local culture and their way of life. Lua lives with her aunt and both of them were exceptional hosts. I had the honor of being her first CS guest ever. She was extremely generous with her time, and even gave me her bedroom to sleep in while she shared a bed with her aunt. She spent all of her time outside work taking me to places and showing me around. Explaining to me the local history and customs. While I had already spent three weeks visiting the south of Brazil on this trip, I had felt that staying in hostels and visiting the usual tourist sites in each city didn’t really allow me to get to know the real Brazil very well. By staying and living with a local, I had the chance to dig deeper into the culture and see things I haven’t been able to thus far.
After 3 days of being hosted by Lua, I went to amazing Chapada Diamantina.. I then returned to Salvador and spent one night in the great Açai Hostel before heading to Morro de Sao Paulo and Boipeba (blog post coming soon). I then returned once again to Salvador and Açai Hostel and for 6 more days, where I made great friends with both travelers and the staff that worked there. I enjoyed the hostel so much that I ended up staying way longer than I originally intended. I will write later on what makes a great hostel. Almost no sightseeing done during this third visit. I simply needed a few days of relaxation to recharge my batteries and plot my next move.
I found Salvador to be really beautiful and full of energy. The old and somewhat rundown buildings really give it a lot of character. The weather is almost always hot and very humid. It can go from sunny to rainy many times in the same day. There are a lot of people and cars on the streets. There’s also a lot of hassling, especially for tourists. While staying in the Pelorinho neighborhood, you can listing to drum bands practicing on rooftops at random times during the day. All of the above make you feel like you are in a buzzing place with a lot of energy.