I took a surprisingly sleep inducing overnight bus from Recife to Salvador, got a bus to the old town, left my luggage at a hostel, had a look around and brunch in a serve yourself cafe (these places are great for vegetarians – so many salads!) and then got myself mugged.
I’d managed to walk one street off the busy tourist square into an area I didn’t know was advised against. I made it worse by forgetting the first rule of mugging and fighting back when the guy tried to pull my cross-body shoulder bag off me. So he punched me in the face, ripped the bag off its strap and ran off whilst I picked myself off the ground and wondered at the river of blood running down my front.
I must say that from the point I wandered slightly dazed back into the square, people were very nice to me. I was taken into a restaurant to clean myself up and a Brazilian lady, who lives in Canada and was visiting with her mother, came to the police station with me to translate, staying with me until the formalities were done. The police walked me to the hostel where the staff kindly took my shirt and skirt to get the blood laundered out and let me use the phone to call my credit and debit card providers.
The next day I went shopping for a new camera, diary notebook, MP3 player etc but had to make do with a big heavy paperback as a replacement for my Kindle. At least my passport, my main credit card and most of my cash were elsewhere on my person.
And so on day three I finally got to have a proper look at the centre of Salvador, a Renaissance city that was the capital of Brazil for over two centuries and which contains a high density of Baroque churches and monasteries, many of them fabulously decorated.
My favourite had tile panels all around the cloister illustrating various morals and saying from the Roman poet Horace.
The associated church is very ornate, smothered in gilt wood carvings and paintings:
Another church has a late eighteenth century wooden effigy of a bloody post-crucifixion Jesus, set with thousands of tiny rubies, representing blood drops. Unfortunately they blend in with the surround paint so well that I had to ask which sculpture I was supposed to be looking at; I’m afraid I found myself wondering why the artist bothered.
Alongside the churches, the old town has many attractive and brightly painted houses along its hilly cobbled streets. I blame those cobbles for my bruised coccyx – I went down like a sack of potatoes when the mugger hit me.
After a couple of false starts on other churches, I finally settled on the one with the bejewelled Christ for the Lego model:
It came out a bit top heavy I think, but I was feeling weary so settled for it like that:
My visit to Salvador also included watching a bit of capoeira in the main square and a young drumming and dance group rehearsing for carnival in the street next to the hostel.