Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem!

I've done some investigating into these mosquito bites. The problem is, I rarely get bitten, so when I'm in a place with mosquitoes and they discover the sweet, sweet nectar of my California type O+ blood, I get devoured the first day and then they start to tire of me. It seems. But what really happens is that you develop immunities to the allergic reaction a bite gives you, and if you haven't been bitten for a while, then you just need to re-develop them and then you won't look as nasty when they get you next time. Which is encouraging, because despite the addition of bug repellent, I'm still getting new bites. Not as many, but there are some fresh ones.

And if you think I'm just complaining - well, you're right. But I have 44 bites on one leg now, and 37 on the other. And this doesn't count my back, arms or hands. I have bites on fingers and toes, fer chrissakes.

Yesterday I took my polka dot self out on a walk. A nice, long walk along the Atlantic coast. I was wearing absolutely the wrong shoes, so my feet regretted it at the end of the day, but I didn't!

I wandered to the coast via some Barra side streets and saw some cute boutiques for shopping later, and restaurants Kitaytay had recommended. The street I was on dumped me out at Jesus, still waving those boats ashore. The next neighborhood you hit is Ondina, of which I knew nothing except that it is the end of the line when the Carnaval parades are happening. There were lots of expensive looking hotels in this part of town that were bogarting prime beach space for their guests. I also noticed laundry hanging on lines in some of the guest rooms, which contrasted nicely with the sense of money in this town.

There was also a fantastic swimming pool area on the cliff overlooking the ocean with three pools in all. The first was the adult pool, closest to the bar. The second was maybe for teens who didn't want the embarrassment of being near their families? I couldn't tell, so that's my guess. The third was absolutely the best - it was the shallow kids pool, filled with giant fountains of cartoonish pelicans, whales, flowers, etc, that the kids were jumping in and out of. One day, when I have millions and millions of dollars, I'm going to construct something like that in my backyard for me to play in. All I'm sayin'.

Continuing on, I passed a lot of small local beaches. One was filled with teenage boys, who all started yelling and calling at me when I went by. It was cute. They were maybe 14, and I'm like, 100. Talk about the MILF thing! If they'd seen my measley legs, I'm sure they would have cut it out. (Although the last time I'd had bites this bad - worse even - was in Hawaii many years ago. A guy hit on me by looking at my legs and saying, "So you like the outdoors - so do I. Alriiiiiight...") I passed a small beach later on and there was a samba reggae band playing (samba reggae is the really pounding percussion style) and a crowd of people dancing around it. I stood to watch for a while and a woman next to me pointed at my legs and said something to her friend. Since I caught her doing it, she gave me a sympathetic look which made me laugh, at least.

The goal of this walk was Rio Vermelho, which is where the annual Festa da Yemenja (goddess of the sea) happens. I got a picture of a statue that I assume is her - a hearty mermaid with a big ass and big boobs. Go Brasil! This part of town is also home to Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa (who bought her place from Caetano Veloso). Not like I'd recognize any of these people if they were sitting next to me having an espresso. (Well, I'd recognize Caetano because he's a sexy bastard. Ahem.) I know their music, not so much their faces.

The first thing I noticed about the beach here were the fishermen. There is a small river that ends at this beach, and around this area were a lot of boats on the shore and not so many in the water. And there were plenty of scrawny dogs, and some chickens. Chickens on the beach! I love that.

Most places were closed, it being God's day and all. The Mercado Rio Vermelho consisted of a lot of places to eat, which were closed. But I went to an open one and had some açai. You know, that wonderful diet berry that is constantly being advertised in the sidebar of Facebook pages as Rachel Ray's diet berry of choice? Or some shit like that. Well, here, açai is a blend of the berry (which comes from a type of Amazonian palm tree) with ice and guarana. It's kind of like a sherbet. It's pretty yummy, and was hella refreshing.

The main vibe I got from Rio VeVermelho was that it was funky and bohemian, and you know I like funky and bohemian! Seemed like a good mix of people, money, etc... Well, kinda like Berkeley. A little of everything balances out. There were some modern buildings, some colonial ones, interesting architecture and parks, the river, the beaches, the chickens... My favorite spot in Salvador so far.

And then the walk home. There were a lot of people walking home, since I think just about everybody was at the beach (nothing else is open!). Everyone walking around in their bathing suits, flip flops if any shoes at all... I can't remember the last time I saw so many bare feet slapping the pavement. And were any of these men wearing shirts? Nope. Unless they happened to be one of the few people stuck working at a gas station or restaurant, they were shirtless. And the places that were open had music - usually live tropicalia being performed - that was right at street level. How relaxing, right? I grew up in a beach town, and you do get used to seeing people wearing their swimwear as everyday wear, but it had been a while and was kinda nice. Especially since it's true that the "hot" to "not hot" ratio in Brazil seems to be very high in the "hot" favor.

My long walk ended just about sunset back at Porto da Barra. The next thing on the agenda? Putting my sore feet up and getting spray happy with the bug repellent. Ah, Sundays!