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Day 10: Salvador

I made it to Salvador.


When booking the bus tickets the day before the journey, by my crude estimations, I thought it would 'only' take seventeen or so hours to make it up from Rio.

How wrong I was.

It took thirty hours.  When we reached the twenty hour mark, and seemed to be nowhere near a city that I could maybe identify as being Salvador, I began to despair and genuinely thought I had accidentally clambered on board a bus destined for Mexico.

To make it worse, in an act of monumental stupidity, I had packed my trusty pocket-sized English/Portuguese translation guide in my backpack, which was in the luggage hold underneath us.  So I couldn't even tap a fellow passenger on the shoulder to ask how long we had left (and also, to check that I was on the right bus to begin with).

We finally arrived at around three in the afternoon, and I was full of relief that I had made it to the correct destination.  My next mission was working out how to transport myself from the city's main bus station to area my hostel was situated.

Grasping my translation guide as if it were the Holy Bible, I purposefully strode up to the information desk where, in slow yet determined Portuguese, I enquired how to make my way to the Historical Centre.

The lady behind the counter stared at me in silence, absolutely bewildered.

"Historical Centre?" I asked again in Portuguese.  I repeated the words several times, each time with more and more uncertainty, hoping she might clue in to what I was asking for.

She still looked completely mystified.  Spotting a pen on the counter top, I grabbed it and jotted down the name of the area I was after on a piece of scrap paper.  Comprehension suddenly dawned on her, and a torrent of words flew out of her mouth as she began describing the directions in rapid fire Portuguese.

Pausing mid sentence, no doubt when registering the blank look on my face, she then grabbed the pen from my hand and wrote down a number on the slip of paper.  From what I could gather, I was to take the bus bearing this number to where I wanted to go, and my hostel (hopefully) wouldn't be too far from the stop.

I got on the bus, which rumbled along the road towards the central area of the city.  Yet I had absolutely no idea where I was going, and no idea what I was supposed to be looking for.  So I hopped off and jumped into a taxi, giving the driver the street address of my hostel.  The sun would be setting in another hour and I wasn't keen on wandering around Salvador in the dead of night, hopelessly lost and confused.

The taxi dropped me outside a busy road, and I couldn't spot anything that looked remotely like a hostel.  The driver vaguely pointed to a narrow, dirty pathway in between two shops leading upwards to a hill.  It looked deserted and pretty unappealing, but seeing as I had no clue where I was anyway, I decided to just go for it, and prayed this wasn't a setup where hapless backpackers are set upon all at once.

At the top of this narrow pathway, I emerged into a scene that completely took me by surprise.  Cobblestone streets, small houses and buildings painted in an array of colours, and tourists milling about, taking photos and exploring the area.

I made it to the Historical Centre after all, and found my hostel shortly after.

Rio feels like another world away and I miss the buzz. This small, well-thought out hostel, voted best in the world in 2008 (apparently) comes with free Internet, a noticeboard updated daily highlighting interesting events in the area, and a small swimming pool.  It is deadly quiet and I have only seen one or two people who I am assuming are guests. Apart from my backpack lying across the floor, my dorm room was completely empty.  A huge contrast to the five-floor, fully booked party hostel in Rio that was essentially my home for a week.

After dinner in a restaurant nearby, I called it an early night and collapsed onto my bed with exhaustion.


Ms Beauty Soul said...

Cant wait to here the rest. Im sure that is Albuerge de Laranjeiros in Pelourinho you found yourself at... I suppose it shall be revealed later!

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