For the previous two nights, I’ve hopped off the bus closest to where I’m staying then bolted home like a runaway slave.
Ready Set Go! Run KalaLea Run! Don’t look, just run!
See after 9 o’clock or so, the area becomes a nesting ground for the homeless and addicted. I don’t know from where they come but the vibe is sketchy at best. Emaciated men and women covered in last week’s soot lay on the streets, mangy dogs on the prowl, a prostitute here, a dealer over there, a regurgitation from the another disappointing day of hustling on the cobble-stoned streets of Salvador.
With the exception of Red Fern, Sydney Australia, I’ve never seen anything like it. Salvador has loads of well-to-do people (many have a greater concentration of European blood). Most of the population, Afro-Brazilians, are living near or at the poverty line. Hand to mouth action, stacking debts, getting by just like most of middle class America. But my neighborhood at night is something all together different. When the shops close, Dos de Juhlo, morphs into the underbelly of darkness and desolation.
Tonight, I chose to return home two hours earlier to avoid the 400 meter race for my life. I consider it the challenging part of my day, the four minute run home. I don’t know what it is about this place but it doesn’t change the way I feel about being here. Four minutes isn’t so bad; the other 1, 436 minutes of the day are BELEZA (Beautiful)!
From sunrise to sunset, Bahia is pure magic. Every day is a gift, a stroke of luck. Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the universe gives you a wink or a smile. Here are just a few examples of the many reasons why I am still here and smiling on a daily basis:
The best part about where I stay is that it’s a ten minute walk to my favorite health food restaurant, Health Valley near Largo da Piedade. If I’m in the Centro, I’m here every day during lunch time. All you can eat vegetarian food for R$12.00 including juice and dessert — approximately seven US dollars. I must eat right for the mad dash home, remember? They also have a small store in the front where I buy brown rice, almonds, raisins, granola and other healthy snacks.
Thursday day and night. Rio Vermelho, an artsy neighborhood full of cool bars, boutiques, and restaurants. In the afternoon, I finally got to meet the superstar fashion designer and college professor, Carol Barreto along with her assistant, Sista Katia, a graffiti artist plus the first vegan I’ve met in Bahia this time around. She and I will cook together soon.
After my visit with Carol, I met Fola for dinner. The evening began with a drop-dead gorgeous sunset and ended with dancing with Fola and friends.
Friday night, Pituba. We met Reto, his namorada (girlfriend) and two other friends at Coco Bahia, an over-priced pizzeria staged in a jungle. I can’t seem to escape cheese. Since my last visit, the number of pizzerias in Salvador have tripled. And unlike New York City, it’s not cheap. I’ve yet to see a pizza by the slice spot. Maybe I should open one near the beach ..? Hhhmm.
Saturday, the meninas (girls) and I drove to Imbassai beach. Well, Milena did all the driving. In 2009, I could count the number of restaurants and pousadas on one hand, today there are twenty or more. I hardly recognized the place. It’s the new Praia do Forte, an ultra-popular beach spot. Even still, the natural beauty remains.
Sunday afternoon, Ondina. Another evening with the sexy ladies. We met at 4:30 for the Magary Lord concert. My jaw aches from smiling. My feet burn like fire. we danced the whole night. AMAZING SHOW and ENERGY!!
The show concluded with a dance off … Unbelievable. I shot video and maybe one day you’ll see it.
My emotions run the gamut, extreme highs, frustrating lows and lots of time in between to think about what’s next. All I know is I’M ALIVE!!
This Friday is yet another travel day. Please send positive vibes and know that I’m doing the same. We are all one. There is no such thing as time or space only energy. Giving thanks for each day and every moment — even the scary ones.
My love to you and you and you!