samba rhythms in Salvador


It was hard to leave Rio, and the group of people I’d been hanging out with although two of them, Charlie and Eileen have now arrived in Salvador which is cool. But time, my liver and my wallet were urging me from the city so I caught a late night flight to Salvador in Bahia, North East Brazil. I arrived at the hostel at 2am in the morning, climbed what seemed like a mountain into my third level bunk and fell asleep. I was woken up in the morning to the sound of percussion and drum beats and after breakfast went outside to discover myself in a maze of cobbled streets, brightly coloured colonial buildings, cafes, capoeira schools and music playing just about everywhere. It is as if the city itself has some kind of internal musical pulse that you cannot escape.

During my first day I managed to make friends with two lovely American girls who had somehow wangled seven weeks of research interviewing women on Ipanema beach about their body image, and a girl from Taiwan. We ended up in a cinema cafe on one of the plazas, watching a really bizarre, but good, moderately incestous Brazilian film called Tieta of Agreste. In the afternoon I ended up going for a percussion lesson, it was just myself and another French lady, it was so much fun. We did two different kinds of samba rhythms, samba reggae and I got to play the big bongo drums and the huge drums which you pound away on with large padded sticks. After an hour and a half though my arms were so sore! In the evening I went with the girls to drink shots of different flavour cachaca in a bar on one of the plazas before ending up sitting on the cobbled streets outside a bar with a huge contigent of English guys drinking until 2am.

Yesterday Eileen and Charlie had arrived and since Charlie doesn’t really ever appear out of bed before the early afternoon Eileen and I went around the shops and explored the historic part of town ending up looking round one of the beautiful opulent old churches. The architecture here is beautiful but it’s not like any colonial city I’ve seen before, it’s so much more colourful and everywhere there are guys selling multicoloured beads and bracelets, women in huge lacy dresses that billow out from their waists with bright red lips encouraging you into their shops or cafes, guys practising capoeira in the squares and random drum beats errupting from anywhere and everywhere at all times of day.

Samba class We wandered down to the local beach in the afternoon and went for a quick swim and then lay watching the tanned old locals in their tiny retro trunks playing ping pong on the beach. We got back just in time for the four of us girls to have a samba lesson. Now I had imagined learning some steps, doing a little light dancing. No chance, and a very good thing I didn’t bother to shower before hand as by the end the sweat was running down my temples. We had a crazy warm up to the bongo drums before we even started and then in two lines started following the samba steps, forwards, backwards, winding your hips around in a circle and just when you begin to think this is actually pretty tiring the drummer doubles the speed! A lot of fun but I haven’t done that much exercise in months! Afterwards I managed to get out between breaths, preciso um caiparinha, and we all came back to the hostel bar, glistening with sweat for a little refreshment.

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