First Taste of Salvador.

I was excited about visiting Salvador far before arriving, but once I stepped out of the airport the hot sticky weather swallowed me and I was instantly in heaven. I adore tropical climates and most elements that accompany them, the lush rainforest landscape, the sunshine, the slower pace of life, the food, the intense rains and the ocean’s tolerable temperature; basically everything aside from the insects.

A friend of a friend we met in the South picked us up at the airport. He was waiting patiently with a handwritten sign, my name barely distinguishable. “Lindsay” is not a name you find in Brazil, and people here have a really hard time pronouncing it. Most have resulted to calling me “Li” which I actually like, since I have never had a nickname back home. It was comforting riding through the city for the first time with a local, especially in a place as intense as Salvador. The road leaving the airport is lined with a gorgeous canopy of bamboo, you feel as if you are entering the jungle; perhaps in a way you are as the freeway follows surrounded by favelas for miles.

pelourinho salvador brazil

Our hostel was located in the Pelourinho, a UNESCO world heritage site, also the city’s historical center. The neighborhood is known to be rough around the edges despite the heavy presence of tourists who flock here to see the Portuguese colonial architecture and to attempt to get a glimpse of the African culture; I was most interested in the area for all the dance school scattered about. The Pelourinho is the heart of music and dance culture in Bahia, and as we drove around the cobble stoned streets music emanated from every direction. People were hanging out on the streets, cooking, drinking, playing the drums, socializing, living. An intense energy filled the air and my eyes glowed with fervor. I think our new friend noticed as he started warning us about all the dangers of the area just as every other person we met in Florianòpolis had.

All of the advice definitely had me a little on edge, which frustrated me as I didn’t feel free to roam around freely with my camera. I missed countless amazing photo opportunities, but remained safe and aware. For the most part the city wakes up at night, and the couple of times I did try to shoot in the more authentic streets farther away from the slew of tourists, I had concerned locals cautioning me, pointing out robbers and making gun hand signals in my direction. That was enough for me to put the camera away and just enjoy my time there without attempting to capture it all.