March 13, 2007
I got to Salvador early this morning after being on a bus all night. Once again, there was a helpful information booth right at the bus station. I got myself oriented with the city, left my backpack at the bus station, and headed out for the day.
I was going to stay at Daniel, a guy from Couchsurfing's place, but he was at work, so I went into the center of the city for the day. It took over an hour for the bus to take me there. As usual, the bus station in Salvador was on the outskirts of the city. I saw some nice plazas in the center of the city, but I had to leave almost right away because the bus took so long. I went back to the bus station, grabbed my backpack, then took another bus to Daniel's neighborhood. In all I spent over three hours of my day riding on buses within the city. Salvador is big, but the sheer volume of traffic is the bigger problem. Traffic jams are everywhere.
I met Daniel at his apartment, a single-bedroom in a high-rise that's blocked off to the outside world by a guard station at the entrance, a common setting in Brazilian cities. He grew up in Natal and now works for a petroleum company outside the city. We had a lot of conversations about Brazilian economics. The basic story was the same as I had been hearing throughout Brazil: The rich live right next to the poor, the public education system is non-existent, anyone with enough money sends their kids to private schools, and everyone else gets left behind. Brazil is a country of contrasts, as any guidebook will tell you.