The Cathedral of Brasilia, designed by Oscar Niemeyer
Made up of 16 columns and 16 stained glass-like windows, it looks more like a monument than a building. The inside is just as captivating, with large angle statues suspended from the ceiling and a crypt with a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin that is stained with human blood.
I had to ask the bartender about the hundreds of bottles, mostly Red Label, next to the regular bar. He explained that along with serving alcohol by the drink, they also sell the bottles. Usually, the patrons don’t finish the bottle, so they label it and place it on the shelf so they can finish it when they come back another day.
As you can see, this bar has a lot of regulars.
While sitting in on a curb in Salvador drinking a beer I met a pretty interesting guy. His name was Reinaldo and he spoke Portuguese and Spanish and knew more about old school hip-hop than most Americans. He pulled out a pencil and on the wall next to us showed me the differences between Sao Paulo and Rio handstyles. When I asked him how he learned Spanish he told me that he lived in the Madrid Airport for a while.
Over the next couple of days we bumped into each other often. He worked as a street artist, walking up and down the bar filled streets offering to draw portraits of patrons. When he saw us, he’d usually sit down for a beer with us before going back to work. One day, he freestyled effortlessly in Portuguese. Another day, he played a guitar.
On our last day there, when we told him we were leaving he pulled out his sketchpad and started drawing. When I asked him what he was drawing, he said “un regalo”, Spanish for “a present”. A few minutes later he handed me the drawing you see above.
Overheard in a Moroccan hostel
- American: Does anybody want to smoke hash?
- Australian: Do you have some?
- American: No, I'm going to go find some.
- Australian: How are you going to find hash here? You don't even speak the language.
- American: Im only good at 2 things and one of them is driving a boat.
For the first time in months, I cut my hair and trimmed down my beard.
This is because my journey is almost over. After 2 months of growing out my hair and beard in an attempt blend in, I am going back home. Hard to say whether or not it worked, but I wasn’t robbed and was pretty sure I paid the same prices as locals when I purchased things.
The Portuguese lessons paid off as well. I have some trouble when I speak it because my brain involuntarily switches over to Spanish, but I still understand 90% of what I hear. That’s ok, I’m a man of few words.
In a period of 48 hours I have to:
- Take a bus from Itacare to Bom Despacho (6 hours)
- Take a boat to Salvador (1 hour)
- Take a bus from Pelorinho, Salvador to the Salvador Airport (1.5 hours)
- Fly to Guarulhos-Sao Paulo (2 hours)
- Fly to JFK (10 hours)
- Enjoy the ride back to the Bronx in NYC rush hour traffic
Then on Monday I will put on suit and go back to work.
That same night while looking for food, I encountered a capoeira roda. I went to watch it, thinking I was going to see a local capoeira school performing for tips, but quickly realized this wasn’t the case. The majority of the performers weren’t performers at all, just locals in the crowd that would join in trying to outdo each other.
Walking down the streets in Salvador I stumbled onto a street samba performance. I asked who was performing and no one seemed to know. Some guys just set up shop in the middle of the street and turned that block into the best party in town.