Friday, February 6, 2015

Days #39 & 40. Salvador & Imbassai, Brazil.

After all that capoeira and dancing, I needed a day to recover. So I chilled with my friend Steph that I met back in Floripa. Again, so random. We went to a restaurant recommended by JoyAnn, a lovely girl born in Trinidad and raised in England who works at the hostel. She said they have a really good fish muqueca which I’ve been dying to try. So we ordered it. It was huge. A bubbly, steamy fish and coconut milk stew served in a hot pot. We devoured it! Except for one little piece of fish that neither of us could muster the willpower to finish. It came with rice and that awful thick gooey seafood mash that I still haven’t acquired a taste for.

Then we got pedicures. I couldn’t believe how cheap they were – only $R16 which is about $7. But once she got started, I saw why they were so cheap. I’m used to the pedicures where they soak your feet in hot water, trim your cuticles, buff your soles, massage your legs, and all that amazing stuff. But she literally plopped my foot in her lap, removed my old polish, filed just a teeny bit, and slapped new polish on really sloppily. I looked down at the nail polish smeared all over the place and fervently hoped she was not going to leave it that way. And she didn’t. At least she cleaned up the edges with an acetone-soaked cotton swab wrapped around a pointy stick. The only good thing about this pedicure, is that it would have cost me the same amount to buy the remover and polish to do it myself. I guess I’m a bit spoiled back in the states!

Around 4 pm, JoyAnn, a Canadian girl at the hostel named Angela, and myself boarded a bus for Imbassai, a 2-hr ride from Pelourinho. We had decided the prior day to check out an eco hostel by the beach whose flyer promised tranquility, yoga classes, a pool, and being one with nature. There were only a few people on board so we each grabbed our own row of seats. Until a man boarded at the next town and, out of all the empty seats, he picked the one next to me!! :( I was not happy about this at all because I planned on stretching out and sleeping. Seriously, there were FIVE PEOPLE on the bus and he decides to crowd me out. Not cool. The bus took us a few stops too far before dumping us off, and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with our backpacks, and absolutely no clue which way to go. So we did what anyone in their right mind would do. We walked. The full moon cast an eery light on the dirt road. JoyAnn said it reminded her of a scene out of a horror film and I told her to shut her mouth and stop freaking me out!!! We finally came upon a small restaurant/bar with a really sweet owner, who offered to drive us to our hostel for around $10. “Should we do it?” JoyAnn asked, and I replied, “Are you crazzzyyy? Yes!” Our other option was to keep walking in an unknown direction to God knows where. We piled into the teeny tiny little car, but not before the restaurant owner cleared a carseat out from the back. Within 10 minutes we were at our eco hostel, having scraped every speed bump on the entire drive there, despite going over them at around 2 mph.

The hostel definitely had a nice jungle vibe going for it. There was a pool. Slightly larger then my bathtub. Haha, no, it was bigger than that. But only slightly. Lots and lots of palm trees dotted the sandy grounds, and hammocks swayed in the breeze. There was an outdoor grill and pizza oven, which was being enjoyed by some local Brazilian travelers. They were BBQ’ing and playing guitars, singing “All My Loving” by The Beatles at the top of their lungs. The coolest thing about this hostel is the humongous gazebo type structure sitting in the center of the grounds. On the bottom is the dining area, and on the top is the yoga room. It’s all open-air, the floors colorfully painted with murals. I love it! Can’t wait to do yoga!!!

We were too tired to even eat and went straight to bed. In the morning, we enjoyed a beautiful breakfast spread – including all the usual stuff but also several freshly baked cakes and tapiocas. It was already getting swelteringly hot out, so as soon as the last crumb of cake was gone, we high-tailed it to the beach. Such a pretty beach too, stretching as long as the eye could see! We bootlegged some beach chairs at a swanky resort spot and managed to hang out there for a few hours without getting caught. There was a 5x5 volleyball game going, but it was so hot out I couldn’t even muster the energy to go play. Angela was getting sunburned, so we headed into town for lunch. We found a cute little place off the main road and ordered more fish muqueca. Can’t get enough of it!! Theirs was even better then the one in Pelourinho. Much more flavorful! You can see the palm oil floating on the surface of this dish… it’s incredibly rich. JoyAnn also ordered a crab appetizer served in a fake crab shell. It was ok but every bite was crunchy because of the crab shells. For dessert, they brought us a cold scoop of freshly grated coconut cooked in condensed milk, kind of like a pudding. It… was… heaven in a bowl.

Back at the hostel, a kind Spanish lady led us in a yoga class. I haven’t done yoga in over 5 weeks! I’ve missed it terribly!! It felt soooo good to stretch. The other girls didn’t like it nearly as much as me, especially the “childbearing pose”, as the English girl called it. That’s the one where you grab your big toes and stretch your legs out in a V.

After yoga, Angela and I went to the market to see what we could buy for dinner. I looked around and immediately spotted some gorgeous eggplants, ripe tomatoes, and fresh herbs. So I was inspired with an idea – eggplant parmesan!! Angela said she’d never had it before. Amazingly, they had all the ingredients I needed. Except for breadcrumbs. But I thought I’d try the falafel powder Brazilians put on everything as a substitute. It has the consistency of panko except finer.

Eggplant parm. What a pain in the butt. I forgot how much work it is to bread and fry stuff! Especially a plate full of eggplant slices! But the falafel powder worked out great. I was pretty happy with it. In the meantime, I had a pot of fresh marinara simmering made from the ripe chopped tomatoes, onions, tons of garlic, parsley, oregano, a pinch of sugar, a squirt of lime, and some seasoned salt from a tub that the Brazilians lent me. When all the eggplant had been breaded and fried, I laid them in a beat-up metal pan that had seen better days, topped them with the marinara and loads of mozzarella/parmesan cheese, and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes. Out came a bubbling heap of cheesy deliciousness. We ate nearly the entire pan. Us and a girl from England who arrived today. JoyAnn made passion fruit caipirinha’s, which were so good, even a Brazilian man at the hostel said they were the best he’s ever had!

After dinner, JoyAnn and the English girl crashed. But Angela and I weren’t tired at all! So we walked with some others from the hostel to the town square. A crowd had already gathered to hear the local bands play. We heard 4 different bands, all with their own unique sound, from rock to reggae to traditional Brazilian. A toothless fossil of a man dressed in white twirled me all around the cobblestone square. Couldn't believe he could still move that way!!! I nearly broke another pair of Havaianas.

We went to bed around midnight. It was SO HOT in the room, and the fan kept turning off intermittently. Of course the fan is nailed into the wall in a position that is shooting straight down the center of the room and pointing at NO ONE. None of us really slept that night. Not even JoyAnn and the English girl who had gone to bed hours before us. In the morning, when we all grumpily descended our bunks, they lamented that they hadn’t gone out with us seeing as how they got no sleep anyway. Not even cake could console us. JoyAnn wanted to do a waterfall hike today but everyone is too exhausted. I guess we’ll stagger to the beach for the afternoon. I love being in nature, but I am definitely looking forward to being back in Acai Hostel tomorrow with my AC and private mini fan clamped onto the bedpost!

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