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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visiting the true tropics


Yesterday I walked for two hours along the beach here in Salvador, I managed to get a good burn all across my forehead and around the edge of my shirt at the neck and the shoulders - it was my own fault, and yes I still love this city.

It seems more moderate in temperature than both Houston and Rio de Janeiro. The city is on the tip of a promontory so it is surrounded (on three sides) by the sea and a breeze blows constantly.  Because of the prevailing winds and because it sets very close to the equator - the temperatures do not vary during the year.  The sky is a bright clear blue, and combined with the slow friendly smiles of the Bahians, Salvador definitely feels tropical.


DSC08600In a way that is surprising to me - because I have fought the process - I have come to love Brasil. And because of this feeling of affection, I really despair at the look of rot that permeates the cities here. Camillo and I argue constantly about this.  He thinks I am just criticizing the country, but I really don't understand. If I say anything to anyone here their response is that there just isn't money..... ho hum..... the government is corrupt.... ho hum.... it is a poor country.... ho hum...
It does not take money to be clean. (now Camillo reading this will say.... "yes, we know but its not the same") My upbringing in the 50s and 60s was poor. Seven children, one parent working as a policeman in a small town, one pair of shoes a year in September, hand-me-down dresses andDSC_6688 donation boxes for Christmas from our church, yes we were poor.             
But never would we have dumped our garbage on the street, on
the side of the road, on the beach for the non existent government trash-pick-up to  clean up for us. Our mother would have taken a broom stick to our backside if she caught us dropping trash anywhere inside or outside of our home.
I just really don't understand the expensive hotel with the high fence, that doesn't keep the street in front clean, and its sidewalk in good repair.... this is not about being poor this is some other self image that is just wrong ......... A national low self esteem?
Anyone here will say 'it is our government' but is it the government that lets the outside of private property begin to crumble and die..... I just can't understand. 


  1. Neither do I.
    But I do think that poverty and the sad state of public areas really do go together in a vicious cycle. What you can do personally is so small, and so unappreciated, and so stomped on by those around you, that you give up. All your efforts lead to nothing, which feeds into the loss of hope and lack of ambition that keep so many people poor.

    "The government" is an easy excuse all around the world. People have to wake up and realize that -they- make their government, even the worst of governments. Stop complaining about the mayor and run for office if you've got better ideas!

    Anyway. Well said! & Thank you for the space to rant.

  2. for me it is also about being American - no matter what I say I am an RICH american so what do I know - it is just another excuse for I had two sick babies that needed food and medical care and had to struggle daily - only luck and time brought me Camillo and a higher standard of living -
    thanks for your response to MY ranting!

  3. Beautiful photos. I could almost feel the warm breezes.
    I have often thought the same things about Mexico. Yes, a corrupt government, a poor existence, but why would you just throw garbage on the ground? Don't you WANT your life within your own walls to be better? I don't have any answers either. Maybe if you've grown up seeing that, you don't see it anymore.

  4. Such a contrast between the beautiful sea shore and the man made building.

    I guess it's always easier to blame someone else; but in reality we can all make a difference if we really want to.

    Excellent post Ginger.

  5. É uma questão de não ter uma educação básica.
    A maioria do povo brasileiro sofre de analfabetismo funcional.
    O que é um analfabeto funcional?
    Ao contrário do analfabeto, que é a pessoa que não sabe ler, o analfabeto funcional consegue reconhecer as letras.
    O problema é que o analfabeto funcional, um conceito difundido pela UNESCO, não consegue entender o que lê e nem elaborar um enunciado, por mais curto que seja, sobre um assunto genérico.
    O termo(analfabeto funciona) revela distorções existentes na educação das sociedades que antes não eram conhecidas, pois os estudos se limitavam a distinguir quem sabe de quem não sabe ler.
    O Instituto Paulo Montenegro, ligado ao Ibope, faz, desde 2001, um levantamento chamado Indicador de Alfabetismo Funcional (Inaf), que apontou em 2005 que apenas 26% da população brasileira consegue ler e escrever plenamente. Ou seja, três em cada quatro brasileiros têm algum nível de analfabetismo ou analfabetismo funcional.
    Como cobrar de um povo que não têm educação o conceito e a pratica da limpeza pública ?

    Roberto Simon


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  6. I don't understand why people want to litter the streets, fields, and oceans either. It is disheartening to see that people have so little respect for their own surroundings.

    Anyhow, this is a great post. Love your photos.

    I don't get the connection between being poor and havving lots of money have to do with anything. We're all people, no matter how much money we make. We should take pride no matter what our circumstance. That's just my opinion. I think too many people play the victim and use the government as an excuse.

    Sorry. I could go on a rant too.

    Have a wonderful day Ginger.

  7. part of the connection is that I hear 'the poor do not have the money to keep their streets clean' the government doesn't get enough in taxes ' to keep the streets of the poor clean' I don't think being poor is a valid reason for your home (neighborhood) to be dirty....

  8. Alexandre Macedo - RJWed Aug 26, 01:22:00 PM 2009

    Você está cobertíssima de razão. A pobreza é uma condição muito presente MAS jamais deveria ser aceita como razão da falta de senso, da ausência de virtudes como a limpeza, o zêlo pelas coisas e lugares comuns. Sou uma pessoa simples, de hábitos simples e origem humilde, porém isso nunca foi motivo para que a educação e os ensinamentos me fossem negados. Os pais "da antiga" eram mais responsáveis. Transmitiam esses valores de maneira sistemática. Hoje há uma complacência, uma tolerância aos erros antes repudiados, produzindo (talvez por conta da preguiça e do descaso) indivíduos sem esses valores tão necessários e os efeitos que você relatou.
    É realmente lamentável. Parabéns pelo Blog.

  9. I'm so sorry to hear that Salvador is so dirty now. I was there 40 years ago and I remember it being very clean. It was my favorite Brazilian city .

    The town where I lived had people who constantly swept the streets and workers who pulled weeds from between cobblestones on the roads. I think the difference might be that then, the country was SOOOO very poor, that labor was dirt cheap and even small towns could afford to pay people (almost nothing) to do dirty, labor-intensive jobs and the people who needed a few centavos to live were willing to do them. I plan to visit Aracajú next year ---and I hear it is still one of the safest and most unspoiled cities left in the country. I hope so. I'd like to visit Salvador again, too. Is it worth it? Or am I better off remembering it as t was?