People said:  Salvador has a heavy
Afro-Brazilian influence.

I heard:  Salvador is full of hot
black dudes.

I went through for my accommodations in Salvador and stayed
with a very cool woman named Liliana who lives in a sweet little apartment in a
residential neighborhood near the beach. 
Lili retired from her advertising career at 50, and spends her time with
her friends, exercising, relaxing, and being an extremely kind host.  

The first thing to do upon arrival in Salvador, I was told, is to go to
the beach and eat street food.   The beach was perfect: a warm breeze, calm
water, top rate people watching, and delicious street food.   I watched the sun set behind men bouncing
soccer balls off their heads and reflecting golden diminishing light off their
genetic perfection.


On my walk home along the beach a man in his late 50s jogged by me, then
turned around and stopped right in front of my face. He was speaking
enthusiastically in Portuguese, then in Spanish.  

This is what he said:

“What you’re seeing here on this coast is beautiful, sure, but it’s even
more beautiful further down the coast near my house.  I live in a beautiful home on the coast.  I have a car here and I could show you.  Would you like to go in my car to see the
beautiful view from my house?”


I was walking down
the street amongst hundreds of people.

He was jogging.

We’re strangers.


With a grin I said no thank you and he jogged on unaffected. 

I laughed the whole way home talking to myself, ‘Do I wanna get in your
car to see the view from your house? Ya, dude. 
That sounds gorgeous.  Where’d ya


That night Lili and her friends and I went next door for dinner: a delicious
outdoor café strewn along the parking lot of a Shell gas station.  I ate meat and cheese on sticks, drank some
beers, and sat knee to bumper with people filling their tanks.


The next morning I was in no hurry to see Salvador and took my time
getting out of the house.  Rio is a tough
act to follow. 

Lili and I were walking to lunch when a man hung out of his car window to
his waist and aggressively cat called me while he was driving.

I asked Lili what the fuck was going on with the dudes in this town and
the mystery was solved.

Apparently men chasing women is the
sport in Salvador.   It’s a game everyone participates in and
enjoys whether you’re the hunted or the hunter.  

I was told to get into it.


After a delicious lunch with Lili and her wonderfully smart friends, I
parted ways and headed to the oldest part of the city called Pelhorino: the
beautiful, old, cobblestoned, colorful, colonial, really touristy part of the

I walked up on a group of guys doing capoireta, the Brazilian martial
art, and the drummer caught my eye immediately.   We exchanged a smile, he stopped drumming
and approached me.

Robinson is a 6’2″ black, tattooed, lean, strong, drummer, surfer, capoireta
guy.  (!!!)  He spoke as much English as I spoke Portuguese
and we somehow communicated all day in Spanish.


Robinson showed me around the old city, eventually holding my hand, then
kissing me, then literally parading me around the town like I was his new white
fleshy toy.  We had drinks, then some
food, then smoked a little pot.  This
combination turned Robinson into an extremely annoying man-gone-octopus.  I made the most of it, listened to a bunch of
live music, and eventually told him I was heading home and needed a taxi. 

No problem, he assured me, he’d bring me to a taxi.  

One dark alley after another soon had us not at a taxi stand, but standing
under a neon sign advertising in three different languages: Love Motel by the Hour.

He held my hand and walked me into the lobby.

I pulled away.

He insisted. 

We exchanged words.  J

I eventually found my own cab, which he immediately jumped in with me,
but soon  got the message and I drove
away without him.  It’s important to note
that he was never aggressive and I never felt in danger.

On my way home, I remembered something I asked him earlier that day and laughed
at myself for spending the day with him. 
When I met him I pointed to the ring on his left ring finger, ‘Married?”
I asked him.  No, he assured me, he wore
that ring–the undisputed sign of marriage in every corner of the world– to
give him strength while drumming.



I spent sunrise during my last full day in Salvador doing yoga on the
beach, swimming in the warm ocean water, and sucking water through a straw from
a coconut.   I was ready to leave.

I napped, I wrote, I packed my bags early, I went to lunch at the mall with
Lili and her friend.  Later, she
graciously took me to the local fruit and vegetable market so we could take
some photographs.  Lili truly did
everything she could to make me feel comfortable and welcome and I deeply
appreciated everything she did for me.

That evening we smoked a joint and washed delicious African food down
with two large beers.   She’s a gem.

On our way home we walked by a hostel on the beach crowded with travelers
from all over the world having a great time, making friends, and speaking many
languages.  My heart sank.  I obviously enjoyed staying with Lili and I
loved living the life of a regular Salvadorian woman for a few days, but I
wondered if I made the right decision by not staying in a hotel.  Maybe I would have enjoyed Salvador more if I
met some people doing the same things I was doing. 

Who’s to know, I guess.  I do know
that Lili was incredibly gracious and her attitude and lifestyle has deeply
inspired me.

I’m happy to call her a friend.