Brazil: Salvador da Bahia

Our last stop in Brazil was in the fascinating city of Salvador.

We arrived just in time for the Pelourinho street party that happens every Tuesday night after 6:00pm mass. The streets are lined with stages and one can view various local acts. Dancing in the street is encouraged.

We were slightly worried about the crime in Salvador (not as much as in Rio) but we had no issue since we stayed in the “tourist” zones and never strayed outside those areas at night. We always made sure to know where we were at all times. People are pretty friendly here. We befriended one kid in particular who was helpful with advice. He wanted to continue to do favors for us, of course for some money. But even we really didn’t give him any money he still stuck around and greeted us whenever we ran into him again.

Old Portuguese style buildings.

Capoeira is huge in Salvador and it is a great place for viewing it. We had many opportunities to see it on the streets.

The importance of religion in the cities past is seen in the ornate churches seen around town.

The past of Salvador is evidenced in the architecture of the lavish homes of Portuguese plantation owners. Now some abandoned buildings lost in time between current dwellings. We witnessed quite a bit of activity in rebuilding some of these abandoned buildings.

Candomble is an afro-Brazilian cult. While in Salvador we were able to go to one of their ceremonies. They usually start in the evening and consist of song and dancing rituals to bring on a trance induced state where some are possessed by one of the many gods or goddesses of the religion. While in the trance, the person changes into costume and takes on the characteristics of that god. During the ceremony there was a break where afro-Brazilian food was shared with all. Due to the intimate nature of the event, we were unable to take photos. I recommend anyone with an open mind to go to one of these events as long as you respect their rituals.

Foz Iguazu

During our trip to Brazil we made a stop to the amazing Iguazú Falls. The water from the falls flows into the Iguazu river which at some point touches Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay in the same place.

We stayed at the economical and clean Paudimar Hostel that had private rooms. The hostel was able to arrange a tour for us that included a raft ride into the river to get a great view of the falls. Additionally we got to view the falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides.

While viewing the falls we met up with a cool group of fellow travelers and spent most of the day viewing with our new friends.

The falls are contained within a park and we were able to view some local wildlife as well.


And some very brave butterflies.

The best part is when the sun hit the falls just right and produced some beautiful rainbows.

The falls were a sight to remember. If you get a chance, you must visit.

Rio de Janeiro

When we visited Rio in 2006 it was notorious for violent robberies. While traveling we usually wander around towns with ease. In Rio we decided to play it safe and do all our sightseeing with tour guides. The two memorable trips we took were to Rochina (a favela) and a day tour called a “Carioca Tour” around Rio.

Our day started with pickup from our hostel and we first stopped at the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Yes it is as cool as it looks in photos and you can get some great views from up there.

We then stopped at a national park and got a glimpse of a nice little water fall.

Another highlight of the tour is that we got to see the famous Selaron tiles in Rio.

He happened to be working that day and we were able to snap a photo with him. We were supposed send him tiles from Florida to help with his art but we never did. It makes me sad to discover he died in January 2013.

Finally we went to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain) to watch the sunset.

At some point in the tour we stopped a beach. It was July and winter there. A few are playing sports but the beaches are pretty much a ghost town. However if I remember correctly it probably was at least in the 70’s Fahrenheit. Cariocas have low tolerance for cool weather.

We had a safe and memorable visit to Rio.
The hostel we stayed at was Rio Backpackers.


In July of 2006 we were those tourists. We had seen favelas on tv and knew that they were dangerous but still we were intrigued. While visiting Rio de Janeiro we happened upon a favela tour of Rocinha. So for the day, we treated other’s lifestyle as a tourist attraction. I am glad we went; it was eye opening. Our tour guide was very informative and we eased our guilt by learning that profits from the tour are used to help develop schools in the favela.
Our tour starts at the bottom of the hill. The tour guide hires numerous men on motorbikes to take us up to the top of the hill of the town. From the top we begin our descent down.
The first thing we notice is the power wires. This cluster is a result of generations of power “borrowing” from the utilities.

As you walk down through the favela you will notice normal people, with most of life’s luxuries. They all had tvs. They all had phones. They just lived in much smaller and more rundown houses than us.


 It wasn’t until later on that I notice the awkardness of this photo. We are capturing the intimate moment of a family on their back porch. They have a great view but there isn’t much privacy here.


  Further down the hill conditions deteriorate. The sewage flows down the hill. It is less clean. There is noticeably more trash lying around.


 I asked these ladies if they would mind if I took their picture and they were more than happy to pose for me.

Something striking about favelas in 2006 is that they are secured by the gangs that run them. Young men with guns (even teen boys) patrol the favela and keep the peace. The goal is to keep the police out so business is good. At first is was a bit intimidating but in realty I felt the safest there in all of Rio.

Sao Paulo

We are in town for my friend’s wedding. Great couple of days so far in Sao Paulo. We had no problems on our flight here. Although many of our companions had issues due to the brazilian airline Varig going out of business. When we arrived at the hotel we were to call our friend Fe’s mom. When we called the phone we would keep getting some standard Portuguese message and then ended up “obrigado” and hung up. After many tries, we just decided to eat dinner around the block from the hotel. We ordered a recommended dish off the menu. It was a greasy chicken with cheese on the top. Not a memorable meal so far…
The day before the wedding a group of us americanos decided to take a van tour around Sao Paulo. It was set up by Fe’s relatives. The guide requested was an English speaking guide. A few minutes into the tour we realize that the guide barely knew any english and our brazilian portugese was very poor. He referred to things as the “big church” and called the market “big mac”. It actually became quite funny with the group. He kept trying to speak spanish to me and kept telling my friend Kevin that he spoke good portugese.

Futbol on everywhere

That evening we attended the bridal shower for Fe. It was at a family members condo (if I remember correctly). The condos were nice and highly secure (I guess they have to be in Sao Paulo). We were buzzed into a secure holding area and after the doors shut firmly behind us, we were let into the grounds of the condos. Note: At the time there was high crime in Sao Paulo – Fe, Fe’s mother, and cousin were robbed of their cell phones and purses at a traffic light prior to our arrival – thus explaining why were were unable to contact them.
The shower was co-ed and attended by all of the family and friends (grandparents and kids alike). After attending the shower we attended a bar together.

Secure gate

The next day the wedding did not begin until 8 or 9 in the evening so Carlos and I did some wandering around alone. At some point in the trip we ended up at a typewriter museum??? Our attempts to speak Portuguese were useless. No one could understand a word we said. Even pointing to pictures on a menu wouldn’t work because there were always more questions to be answered after we pointed.

The ceremony was in a beautiful church. The pictures I took did not do it justice.

Following the ceremony was an all night reception with a samba band and dancers. It was loads of fun. Unfortunately we booked and early morning flight to Rio so we only stayed until 4 am.

Note some of the wedding pics provided were actually taken by Kevin’s friend Chris, another guest at the wedding.