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  • Marilyn Saltzman

Big City Blues

After a wonderful week in Cotacachi learning about the Runa people, we took an overnight flight to Salvador, Brazil. We arrived at rush hour and couldn’t believe the traffic, bumper-to-bumper cars and daring motorcyclists darting in between.

The city is an interesting contrast of old neighborhoods and modern high rises. Some of the fancy new buildings are up on a hill and have a cable car to take residents down to the beachfront!

We walked to the Wal-Mart Supercenter for groceries and learned that the Brazilians really like their sweets. There seemed to be cookies and candy in most aisles throughout the store. We bought fresh pineapple, bananas and mangos from fruit stands outside.

The second day, we went to the old city of Pelourinho, where eager street vendors painted our arms, blessed us and presented us with beads, then asked for donations. We visited several old churches and walked around the cobblestone streets, stopping in lots of souvenir shops and a buffet restaurant for lunch. We met one lovely street vendor who made wire sculptures for the kids. The energy was intense and the heat tiring, so we left before seeing all the sites and went back to the apartment to rest.

The last day before our flight to the island of Fernando de Noronha, the kids wanted to just relax at the pool. We spent most of the day there before going to visit the famous lighthouse, Farol de Barra. The views were spectacular, and the history museum, which had replicas of the slave ships, was both educational and disturbing.

I thought my Spanish would be more transferable to Portuguese than it was, and very few people spoke English. Experiencing a country where we didn’t speak the language made us think about the plight of immigrants in our nation. As affluent American tourists simply having difficulty figuring out menus and directions, we gained an appreciation of non-English speaking immigrants fighting for their survival in the United States.  Once again we recognized how privileged we are.

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