Journal entry: (02-07-13) One month ago…
“I feel very overstimulated right now. Even just existing here in Salvador is overstimulating. As I walked back home from Suco 24h (heaven is a bowl of açai at any hour), I couldn’t even pray or think. It was all I could do to just be aware of my surroundings, as I was walking alone, and just take it all in. Salvador is a big city. A huge city. Think New York City, but Latin American-style. But there are all apartments instead of houses, mountains of favelas in place of ghettos, and Dr. Seuss trees with vines reaching down toward winding highways. Long-tailed, whiskered monkeys are the squirrels of Salvador.”
I’m used to Detroit, where the streets are straight, the corners are sharp, and the biggest hill is the gentle incline of the highway ramp. A map of Salvador, on the other hand, consists of a series of loops, where one winds the ondulating layout of the city by way of nearly ninety-degree-angled “ladeiras”, or steep roads, that link like ladders “Cidade Alta” and “Cidade Baixa” and the jumble of favelas in between.
When asking for directions, instead of hearing responses such as “take a left, then a right, and then another left”, the answer almost every time to any destination is simply “direto”, or “straight”. You can only fully appreciate the irony of this word in Salvador after you have followed the bending road “direto”, and eventually, around several twists later, found yourself precisely at your desired destination. Then you will know that in Salvador, no matter how many highways and by-ways there may be, choose almost any road, and it will be a “direto” route to your home.
(This post inspired another blog post in Portuguese for my class at the university. Check it out here.)