Brazil or Bust
Brazil was everything I hoped for and more. Brazil was a place that I had always wanted to visit. There was something about it that just resonated with me. So in the summer of 2009, my brother Vernon and I decided to go to Brazil. He mainly wanted to go because he’s really into capoeira. So for him, he wanted to go to the source of Capoeira and really hone his skills. I mainly wanted to go to because it was Brazil, end of story.
We decided to go to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Vernon selected Salvador because of its Capoeira roots. We had a long layover in São Paolo so we were able to check the city out which was cool. We put our luggage in storage at the airport and took a bus into the city. We didn’t do much planning so we basically rode the bus to the center of the city and just walked around. Our layover was about 6 hours so we didn’t have loads of time but just enough time to explore. We saw a really cool park, went to a cafe, saw a t.v show being filmed and saw a really pretty church. I would say overall, it was definitely worth leaving the airport. I loved hearing the sound of Portuguese being spoken and it was fairly easy communicating with Spanish since Portuguese and Spanish are very similar. My brother and I did learn a little Portuguese before we left so that was also helpful.When we arrived in Salvador, both of us were pretty tired. We took a cab from the airport to our hostel. We stayed at the Albergue do Porto hostel. We opted for a private room which also had it’s own bathroom. The room was pretty standard so it suited us just fine. It also was across the street from a grocery store and just steps away from the beach. I think we paid maybe 20$ a night if not less. We spent about 7 days in Salvador and it was just the right amount of time.
Capoeira, Beach, Sleep, Repeat
Most days started with Vernon going to one of the capoeira schools. Sometimes I joined him, some days I opted for the beach instead. The beach in Salvador was definitely not like any beach I had been to in the U.S. It was really interesting to see women of all shapes and sizes in thong bikinis. In some ways, i found it to be quite empowering because I saw so many women who were not the status quo size 4 yet they had just as much confidence as anybody else. It made me feel better about myself because at this time in my life, I was definitely obsessed with being thin. So I left with the feeling that it doesn’t really matter what size I am, I can still be confident. I’m sure my brother enjoyed the beach as much as I did but for different reasons lol. He would often go to the beach and do capoeira by himself or with one of the locals. When we weren’t at the beach or not in capoeira class, we took in the sites. We hung out in the Pelourinho area sipping caipirinhas (Brazil’s national cocktail) or just admiring the beauty of the locals.
In the Pelourinho area, there are many capoeira schools as well as restaurants and bars. It is the social hub of the city. If you’re lucky, you might even hear the drums being played by students at one of the many music schools. Salvador is a city that is full of flavor and rhythm. I loved every minute of being there.We also did some shopping for souvenirs at Mercado Modelo One thing that was really cool about the market is that you take this huge elevator to the lower part of the city. Vernon bought some really cool paintings. I bought some jewelry and some small trinkets for friends and family. The vendors were willing to barter so that was fun trying to negotiate the best price. One of the nights we were there, there was a huge street concert. There were people everywhere and you could hear music being played in the streets. It was such a cool experience. It was unlike anything I had experienced before. I especially remember the drums being played in the streets. We ended that night going to a salsa club, which was one of the highlights since I love to salsa dance. We also met some students from the states that were studying abroad in Brazil. That was definitely a night to remember. Salvador is a city that is very vibrant, eclectic, beautiful, etc. I could go on and on.
My trip to Brazil with my brother continues to be one of my more memorable trips. My brother and I travel well together because we’re both very laid back. Everyday we were there we didn’t have a plan for the day but it always worked out like it was supposed to. I knew he wanted to go to Capoeira school everyday and he knew I was fine chilling out by myself at the beach. It’s important to have someone that you can travel with that is able to just go with the flow and not take things too seriously. It’s also important to travel with someone that’s independent and doesn’t feel like you have to do everything together. A lot has changed in my brother’s life (wife and kids) since our 2009 trip so I’m not sure when we’ll have that opportunity again but I believe anything is possible. Maybe a family trip to Brazil is on the horizon.What I loved most about being in Bahia was the fact that I blended in. There was nobody staring at me because I looked different, I looked like I could be Brazilian just like everybody else. That was until I opened my mouth but that’s another story, lol. When you’ve been somewhere and people are constantly staring at you, it feels refreshing to be somewhere far from home yet you blend right in. In a sense, it makes you feel at home. Of all the places I’ve been to, Brazil is some place that I will always have feelings of nostalgia. I could totally see myself living in Brazil. Not sure if that will ever happen but I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity if it presented itself. I wanted to visit Rio while we were there but it didn’t work out. Hopefully, my next trip to Brazil will include Rio.