Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
On the way to Itapuã, a beach northeast from the city of Salvador.
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Monday, July 24: 12 a.m.
Our group had to wait a while for the bus that would bring us to Itapuã Beach. I took my seat next to Carla, and aimed my camera outside. I took pictures of objects and scenes of interest. The bus travel to Itapuã Beach was far from boring; the road was following the shoreline, which was flanked some luxurious hotels. Among them the popular Othon Palace Hotel. Not really a hotel for an average Brazilian tourist, or for students like us. This hotel is far too expensive. Along the beach, many stalls were stacked with green coconuts. Fresh coconuts, some stalls had fridges to cool them, and the coconut water. The vendor is normally very experienced to cut the top of the coconut with a large, sharp knife. To create an opening, just big enough for two straws. Cooled coconut water is really refreshing and contains many nutrients. After emptying the coconut, you can request for cutting the nut in half. You can continue to eat the white pulp. Such a coconut is not too expensive, about 2 reais.
The shoreline sometimes is sometimes a white sandy beach, but at certain locations some treacherous coral reefs may be found. It is really dangerous to swim or surf near these reefs. That is why these locations are marked with many warning signs and red warning flags. When you observe such a red flag with the word ‘perigo’ (danger), it is better to move to another location for swimming or surfing activities. Those reefs are interesting to see. Dark grey or brown rocks on which waves are pounding. Sometimes, these rocks are grown with moss or tiny plants, creating a sharp contrast with yellowish white beach sand, the blue green water, the clear blue sky, the white foam of the waves.
It is obvious that the shoreline has many touristic facilities, such as hotels, pousadas, and shopping centers. However, it is not a continuous line of buildings; sometimes, the shoreline is still flanked by small groups of palm trees, and bushes. Probably, these locations are near dangerous currents or reefs, and therefore are not interesting and profitable enough. However, if I have to believe my friends, also these locations will be used for more hotels, pousadas and shopping malls, due to the strongly expanding touristic activities in Salvador and beyond. Along the Bahian shoreline, already many new hotels and pousadas are under construction. My friends quickly added that coconut trees will be planted just behind the shoreline, in order to attract more tourist who love to stay at idyllic locations of white beaches that are flanked by green coconut trees, instead of staying on an urban-style beach that is flanked by huge, ugly buildings.
At the time of our bus travel, there was a lot of activity on the beaches. Many beach goers enjoyed the sun and the warm temperature. The beach soccer fields were all used by fanatic soccer players. One striking difference with the Dutch beaches is that many beach goers do not use beach towels to lie on. And no one carried beach furniture. And almost no one was using beach chairs for prolonged roasting of the white skin. Here in Brazil, it is more common to use plastic tables and plastic chairs. A large umbrella protects the beach goers from the intense sun rays. The table is suitable for storage of clothes, the umbrella ribs are ideal for storing wet clothes. Beach goers also use these tables for their cold drinks, such as ice-cold beers, caipirinhas, snacks, and churrasco (barbecue).
Brazilians strongly prefer to travel by car. Therefore, many Brazilian beaches have parking lots very close to the shoreline. You do not have to cross dunes, or unpaved roads, but you only need to cross some boulevard to arrive on the beach. One really can imagine that these beaches are really crowded in summer, and during Carnival. During our stay in Salvador, in winter, it was very quiet. The parking lots were not completely full, and also the buses were not overcrowded. There was more than enough space for all of us on the beach.
On the way to Itapuã Beach, we passed along the training complex of the local soccer club: Esporte Clube Bahia. In the past, Bahia became Brazilian champion twice, in 1959, and in 1988. Already very long time a ago… In 2006, Bahia was one of the opponents of Atlético from Belo Horizonte in Série B, the Brazilian second division.
Walking on old tires
The bus travel to Itapuã Beach took more than thirty minutes. We got out of the bus at a small shopping center. We bought some bottled water at a local drug store. It is always recommended to carry water with you. You might need it for your medication, or when you feel thirsty, or even for cleaning your contact lenses when necessary. On the boulevard, a piece of art made of used tires showed that such tires have another destination: flip flops! These rubber flip flops have the tire prints on the sole. Also the name of the brand is clearly readable. These flip flops are a cheaper and environment-friendly alternative.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator