Little bit of Culture Shock

Salvador da Bahia Travel Blog

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I have arrived safely in Brazil after a very long trip. I did not get into Salvador until 7pm on Thursday with a bit of uncomfortable sleep on a plan or in the airport. I did not find the person I was supposed to meet at the airport and ended up taking a Taxi to the city. The airport is pretty far away, but I lucked out with a nice driver who was very patient with me and helped me to find my place, also while pointing out major attractions of the city and teaching me a bit of Portuguese along the way. So far, everyone has been very nice!
My family consists of Angela, the Senhora, a bigger woman who wears a baby blue moo moo around the house and talks a LOT! It did not take me long to realize that I know even less Portuguese than I thought. There is also a 7 year old black girl named Vittoria. I believe that Maria has adopted her since she is quite fond of the girl, as she is absolutely adorable and so very sweet! She grabbed my hand right away to show me around the house and talked my ear off in a language I don't understand. There is also another black girl  who looks to be about 15 years old.  I am under the impression that this girl is kind of a maid. Angela does not treat her like a daughter, and she is always doing all the work. Angela did not even introduce us and the girl seemed shocked when I asked her name and offered to help her. I believe she lives with us. This morning she was crying and I felt really bad that I could not do anything to comfort her with the language barrier. There is also Petrusca who is Angela´s actual daughter, she looks to be about my age but not live with us because she is at school studying nursing. Angela talks a lot about her beautiful daughter (who turned out to be not so beautiful after all ).  She was there when I awoke this morning, along with some guy,  who could be her boyfriend? I don't know, Angela talks fast and a lot so its hard to take everything in. All I know is he sat across from me shirtless, covered by immense black fur while I drank my coffee. I hope that I don´t have to wake up to that again!
I have already experienced quite a lot of culture shock. Brazil is not so much like Europe. First of all, they have no hot water. And being that it was `cold´ they had the girl (i think her name is Serinha) warm up a bucket of hot water for me to bathe with. I am just going to have to get used to taking cold showers. My room is small, and seeing my closet, I quickly realized that I definitely over packed, that, and seeing the state that most everyone else is in, I´d feel like an idiot walking around in my heels dresses. The city is HUGE! about 3 million people, and we are right in the center. I live in an apartment on the 10th floor. The place is small, but enough. My bed is tiny and squeaky. They don't sleep with blankets since its hotter than hell here. It´s still winter and I already know that I will  be hot sticky for about 4 months. I cannot imagine what October and November will be like!  The sun sets early here by 6pm.
I have been walking around a lot on my own today (Maria thought I was crazy for wanting to venture out without a guide on my first day.) But I feel a lot more comfortable than I did yesterday. I have a map and found my way to the school, where I really got a lot of relief. I met the staff and they showed me all the places I needed to go to on the map. Ive even already bought a phone! :) When people are patient enough with me, I can understand as long as they're willing to listen to my broken half Spanish half Portuguese speech. Here is my new number:
Dial  011 (to get out of the US)  55 (country code) 71 91 16 95 47
This is my new cellphone. I don't expect much calls, as I´m sure its expensive, but I do receive calls for free.
Right now I am sitting in an Internet cafe across from the beach. It´s beautiful! There is not much sand right now, as the tide is high, but the waves are pretty intense... I might be reconsidering my plans of surfing. Well see, my school offers scuba diving which I think I will take advantage of as well. Tomorrow I am going to the Islands in the bay with my school for the day. Everything here is really cheap. It has been raining off and on, but that really doesn't make it that much cooler. I met a girl at the school while i was visiting who invited me to dinner tonight so I get to meet a few more people. Her last day was today though, she´s off to travel the amazon alone for a month (so it IS possible!) My Senhora only feeds me breakfast, so the rest of the day I have to fend for myself. I guess I'm going to have to get rid of that fear of eating alone.
The city is an odd mixture of poor and not-so poor. The sidewalks vary from hand placed stones that look like mosaics and dirt. All along the beach, people sell drinks out of actual coconuts (none of this club med stuff  - actual fresh green coconuts). There are coconuts everywhere, they've fallen all along the beach and the streets. All along the streets are fresh fruit vendors with some of the biggest papaya´s Ive ever seen! Right between two high buildings will be a rundown and overgrown building. There are a lot of afro-brazilians and I do believe I saw a hooker on the beach today. However, the general feeling is good and people seem to be quite content. There is always music playing and people are always smiling.
Please do plan a visit, everything is cheap, the beach is gorgeous and the weather always warm! Time to go, I´ve got a dance class to attend! 
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