Moon Over Salvador

January 1, 2010 - 7:45 pm No Comments

When I first told people about this trip down to Brazil, people who had been here recommended that we go to Salvador (pronounced sal-vah-DOR). Even Tati and other locals in Brazil say it’s amazing. Now we’re on our way, and I’m pretty excited about it.

But my research suggests that the poverty of Salvador makes it even more dangerous than Rio, and that the local government isn’t doing anything to help:

The city has become a huge and ugly slum, with a homicide rate that has more than tripled in the last 3 years, mainly due to corrupt local politicians and an almost useless civil police force.

The local police will never release any statistics showing how many foreign tourists are victimized; moreover, they claim that their role is NOT to fight crime nor to provide you with safety. Forget about seeking help from the local police, unless you have the bad luck to get involved in a homicide (although only 1 out of 10 homicides get investigated/solved), or need a police report for insurance purposes; you will waste hours waiting in line and they will either mock at you, or make you feel guilty for being a victim and won’t take any action. For instance, a teenager girl who was raped in Barra neighborhood by 5 men during carnival was told by the police that she was guilty for her rape incident because she was urinating in the grass.

As you may have already guessed, even if there’s a police officer standing less than 3 meters away from a thief who is caught in the act, the officer will do nothing to arrest him, let alone to discourage a beggar from begging.

Even the supposedly honest and objective Lonely Planet claims crime is worse than in Rio, and Tati and the other locals we’ve met have been saying the same thing. We’ll be careful.

On this flight, I have a window seat next to two older but youthful Brazilian woman who talk loudly, laugh loudly, cough loudly, listen to their iPod loudly, and dance in their seats loudly. We just started our descent into Salvador. It’s dark out, and a huge full (or almost full) moon is hovering over the city lights.

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