This is a non-Utah trip comment:
During the last week of May and first week of June 2001, my wife and I took a trip to Brazil to pick up our son who had served a two year L.D.S. church mission
First Stop, the City of Salvador!
Located on the east coast of Brazil, Salvador was the slave trading center during the 16th to 18th centuries. The city is heavy with colonial style buildings from that time period and was once the capital city of Brazil.
Streets in the old part of town are narrow, usually one-way, and chaotic. Vendor shops usually occupy the ground floor facing the streets. Here you can buy tourist trinkets and postcards, prepared foods and drinks from cafes, phone cards (necessary for all public phones), clothes, jewelry, caskets, banking services, music (on CDs, cassette tapes or LP vinyl records), and even internet services.
Street vendors here are aggressive. (We learned to wag a finger in the air, say “No” and walk away. Without the finger wag, the vendors would simply pursue you further.)
Salvador is separated into a lower and upper city. The city is famous for the huge elevator which link the two parts. The cost to ride a crowded elevator car is 5 cents.
The traditions, clothing and foods in Salvador are influenced by the African slave trade and are unique to this area. Watch for delicious spicy foods in the food stalls and Voo-Doo in their religions.
Across the street, at the bottom of the elevator, is the old slave trading building, now home to indoor and outdoor shopping stalls as well as a beer establishment. The basement still contains the slave cells and a tunnel to a fort in the middle of the harbor where slaves were off loaded.
We stayed at the Barra Flats Hotel in Salvador. It was clean, safe, well priced and directly across the street from the beach. While we visited Salvador during the Brazilian ‘winter’ or cool part of the year, the weather was mostly sunny, humid and hot. Since it does not cool down much, even at night, we looked for hotels with working air conditioners.
The area beaches are sandy with some rock hazards. That doesn’t stop the local surfers though. Ask for location of “safe” beaches since sewage is dumped directly into the ocean from most cities.
One of several historic oceanside forts built by the Portuguese to defend against Dutch invaders. Later a lighthouse was added.
Churches are the focal point in the old city. Many churches have only one finished steeple since churches were taxed depending on how many steeples it had. Some plazas host several churches or cathedrals around the open square. These plazas are popular social gathering places for Brazilians especially on Sundays.
We were interested in the typical Brazilian housing. Though some people may consider many areas chaotic ‘slums’, we found the inside of Brazilian homes clean, neat and well kept. For the most part even in the poorer areas, people were well fed, took care of their neighbors, owned a stereo and TV set and promoted a sense of community.
The red/orange color of the houses comes from the wide use of what some Americans called ‘Wonder Brick’. This was a small, hollow clay/cement brick which is used to construct everything; i.e., self-made homes, sheds, shops, fences and even high-rise skyscrapers. Luckily, earthquakes are not a problem in Brazil. (Apparently, neither are building codes.)
Salvador area: Tamar Sea Turtle Refuge
Just outside of the city of Salvador is the Tamar Sea Turtle Refuge. The refuge is located along miles of beautiful white sand beaches and is worth a visit just to leave the crowded city.
Small church just outside of the entrance to the Tamar Sea Turtle Refuge.
Ponds and palms at the ‘Hippie Beach’ near the refuge.
The beach at the refuge. This proves that parts of Brazil are truely Paradise.
More beach…. LOTS more beach. Absolutely beautiful.
Next Stop, the City of Recife
Recife is also called the ‘Venice of Brazil’ because of it’s location on the banks of several rivers.
Recife is home to the Recife Brazil Temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Within the temple compound is a dormatory available at a very low cost for visiting members of the Church. The temple compound also boasts its own water purification system which provides ‘safe’ drinking water for even foriegn visitors.
Next Stop, the City of Olinda
Olinda is located on the hills near Recife and is famous for its many churches built during Brazil’s Colonial era.
Brazil’s Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls — One of the Natural Wonders of the Modern World. The falls are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil as part of the Iguacu National Park. The park has been declared by UNESCO to be a ‘Natural Heritage of Humanity’ region and is the last great reserve of subtropical rain forest.
The falls are the longest in the world at 2,700 meters long with a drop of 65 to 90 meters. (Special thanks to the Brazilian airlines that does a fly-by of the falls, for each side of the airplane, before landing.)
Because the falls are so long, you can’t see all of Iguacu Falls without also also seeing them from the Argentina side. Local tour guides can arrange for a day visit to the Argentina side without visitors needing Argentina visas or papers.
Down steam from Igaucu Falls is the Itaipu Dam and Power Facilities. This is the largest power generating facility in the world, dwarfing even the Three Rivers project in China.
Near the Brazilian town of Foz de Iguacu is the tri-corner borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Local tour guides can also arrange for a quick trip across the border bridge into Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. Bargains abound in the Paraguay street markets where every imaginable product is available. Even Brazilians make this trip when they can.