After getting mugged in Rio, Laura and I were much more hesitant to go out and do things. It was interesting because I think that fear became a big part of my (or, our) experience of walking around the city streets. Everyone became a potential enemy and I found myself wanting to stay in comfortable safe places all the time. I’ll probably have more to say about this later, but it was interesting because I’ve never really felt that way in a foreign setting. Still, it’s all part of the adventure I suppose and we’re determined. Not to spend our trip cowering.
Also, luckily, Rio has plenty of safe places. We spent our last few days there going to a few more sites and visiting the beach. One day we went to Pao de Acucar (that famous mountain on Rio’s coast). It costs R$44 to ride a Alps-style gondola up to the top (in two legs from the beach below). However, we walked up the first mountain and only took the second gondola to the very top, and it only cost us R$ 22. Even better, the hike was through a beautiful rainforest, so really we saved money by doing something more rewarding.
At the top of Pao de Acucar there is a kind of park (which is somewhat bigger than I would have guessed it would be from looking at it from below). It’s pleasant, if touristy, and the park is filled with tiny monkeys.
Amoung the other things we did in Rio was visit the beaches again. We swam at Ipanema beach, sat on the rocks between Copacabana and Ipanema, and visited sites in that area.
Then, Wednesday morning we left for Salvador. We flew, because we were told by numerous people that the bus ride would have taken about two days. (Actually, we got TAM airpasses to make many of our longer connections. We did this because we didn’t want to spent a lot of time in transit and because we were able to sell enough of our old stuff on Craigslist before we left to afford them.).
So far, after an afternoon in the Pelorinho neighborhood, Salvador seems great. We arrived at the airport and met another American, who had come to spend the summer working on something for her college. We also took the bus into town (R$3). When we got here we found the Hotel Arthemis, which was recommended by Lonely Planet. We decided to stay there, mostly because the guys at the front desk we extremely helpful and nice and because our room overlooks the bay (R$70 w/breakfast).
We spent our afternoon and evening exploring the The Pelorinho, which is an historic sector that was built in the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s also a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s all old architecture, cobbled streets, and breathtaking views of the bay. We ate acaraje (a kind fried bean and sea food sandwhich-Google it to get a better idea) from a street vender. The Pelorinho is filled with churches and while we were walking around we happened upon an evening mass, which we decided to attend. The mass was held in the Church of Sao Fransisco, which is the most ornated, guilded catholic church I’ve ever seen. It’s really incredible.
Afterward we got icecream cones. Then we came back to our hotel and washed a bunch of clothes.