Thursday, July 03, 2014

Salvador Dali must be from Recife

I say this because Recife is to become responsible for some of the most surreal days of my life.
As I write this I am on a bus from Recife to Salvador. We will drive south for the next 12 hours, through the night and arrive at approximately 8am. Hopefully.


When Brett and I left Manaus we were the final 2 of our group to do so. German and Kieran left on a 2 am flight. Clint and Ashley on a 5am flight. Ours left Manaus at 3pm and landed in Recife at 10 via Brasilia. We met up with Andy and Evan who arrived at the same time after a 3 flight journey. We meet up at baggage claim, accepted our complimentary ciapirinha's (stay classy Recife) and walked directly past the 50 or so yard line of people waiting to order taxi's. We walk out to the taxi pick-up line and play stupid. We are immediately spotted by a woman who asks us if we have a ticket for a taxi. We respond with something along the lines of, "ticket? What ticket? You need a ticket for a taxi here?". She asks us to follow her back into the airport. Just as I am sure she is going to direct us towards the end of the lemming line she grabs a guy and tells us to follow him. He leads us back outside through a door further down the terminal, leads us to the far end of the sidewalk and tells us to wait just a moment and then breaks into a run in the direction of the only major roadway in sight.. This end of the sidewalk is dark and deserted. We stand there for a moment and start making light of our failure to conform but it is obvious that our jokes are meant to keep a growing uneasy feeling at bay. We aren't entirely sure what we have just gotten ourselves into when our man comes back in his taxi. Looks like we aren't the only ones breaking the rules.


Day 1-
Upon arriving at our Recife accommodations we are greeted by a locked front gate. We make a bit of noise and a couple of the early crew come out and let us in. Now I am not sure what the AirBnB website gave as a description for this little abode but I would have to think that the advertising was a bit exaggerated. I don't believe for a moment that Brett would have knowingly agreed to what we were about to walk into. To say that this place was "rustic" would be understating the condition of our new home. We walked through the gate which had been locked with an iron clasp and padlock. We walked down what looked like, at one time, was a beautifully ornate courtyard with a railing and dense vegetation along the stone walls. We arrive at a large metal entry door backed by a secondary wooden door, also locked with a large chain and padlock. We entered into a large main room with high ceilings, a desk, a large wooden table with unmatched chairs, an old wooden vanity turned entertainment center framing a small black and white television which aired a program that blurred in and out of reception and let out an almost inaudible buzz of excited Portuguese. To the right the doors to a master bedroom and the entry into a small hallway with a table topped with an old cloth and a large plate of fruit, alive with fruit flies. The kitchen was functional as hostels go, with all the amenities one might expect. The end of the hallway opens up to an open air porch enclosed in metal bars reinforced with a chain link like screen.
To the left of the main room a long hallway with doors on the right. The 1st door was another single bedroom, the next 3 doors opening into a large single room with 5 more single beds, and finally a last doorway which led into a large, open room that served two purposes. First and foremost, it appeared to be intended as a storage room. Secondly, and not as immediately obvious, as a portal to hell. This room was shared by Andy, Johnny and myself.
I make my way back to my new resting space to see 3 thin bed-mat's resting atop small wooden pallet like frames. No pillows or sheets just 3 mats strewn across the floor haphazardly amid busted furniture and unused picture frames. There are no fans in the room and certainly no air conditioning on a hot, humid coastal night.
At least half of our crew has already found their way out into the night to explore the local wildlife. I figure if I am going to get a minute's sleep this evening, I had better soften my senses with a touch of Cachaca.


Cachaca is the national spirit here in Brazil and it can be found in abundance. Similar to rum, it is a spirit made from sugar cane and this evening I am about to learn a startling lesson- Cachaca does not soften the senses. More accurately, it runs them through a juicer and pours them into a cup. 3 shots of this stuff and I slept through the night oblivious to my discomfort. The next couple of nights however were a completely different story. Though I will say that through the kindness of our travel partners, sheets and pillows were found for the 3 poor souls sleeping in Mosquito Alley.

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