According to an incredibly loud American I overheard in an internet cafe. I have no idea what that means, but fortunately I don't think he does either.
He was also doing some telephone banking that day - his Bank of America account number is 52017941 and his mother's maiden name is Rogers*.
* these details have been changed to protect the f*ckwitted, but some people seriously deserve to be robbed.
Anyway, even in low season Salvador seems a vibrant and friendly city, with random dancers and drummers in the streets every evening, along with the legions of beggars, trinket sellers, drug dealers and prostitutes. They're pleasant enough, but persistent. Despite their strong and unwavering convictions, I find that I really don't want to buy a bead necklace or a cowboy hat with the Brazilian flag on the front, and I'm pretty confident I shall never develop an interest in peacock feather earrings. Sometimes no really does mean no, in English or Portuguese, and the guy that offered us coc@ine seven times in one day ("What, you *still* don't want any!? You guys are loco!") should come to terms with that.
We're staying in the old quarter of town, which is all cobbled streets, colonial buildings and steep hills, and stands in stark contrast to the new town of skyscrapers and flat concrete down at the harbour. The other night we ended up at an evening mass for a few minutes, and I was able to admire the interior of one of the grand and stately churches for the first time. It was very nice if you like that sort of thing, a series of obscenely large walls with gold on.
I didn't understand much of what was said in the service, but the gist seemed to be that we were all thanking God for his tireless work in the past and very much wishing him well for the future, which gave the whole thing something of the tone of a retirement presentation. I was expecting any minute for someone to appear with a gold watch in a presentation case, but fortunately we left the church before my heathen thoughts brought down His pipe and slippered wrath on our heads.
At some ungodly hour in the early morning / middle of the night we fly to Rio. Gulp. I'm told that today is a public holiday and everything kicks off, so we'll probably leave Salvador just as the party starts and touch down in Rio, exhausted and bedraggled, as it really gets going.
I think it could be much, much worse.