Salvador: up front and personal

I won’t say it was a rough drive in from the airport, but our introduction to Salvador was a new experience for us. The drive in, along a scenic road alongside the ocean, I thought I’d found my new favorite city. But Salvador had more in store for us.

The poverty here is overwhelming in comparison to our previous stops in Brazil. Speeding through the narrow streets of the neighborhood we were to be staying in, we were guided by a young, shoeless boy running in front of the car and waving us in the correct direction. He bounded down the street as we swerved through the narrow streets following him. The pathways were nearly claustrophobic- packed tightly with people, cars, food stands and tour buses. While relieving to have someone help us find our hostel, it was heartbreaking all the same. The boy seemed unaffected by the burning cobbles on his little feet. Even more disheartening was the strikingly old face atop a body that could not be any older then ten. This is an image that will forever be printed in my mind. My heart went out to him.

Upon arriving safely at our hostel, although feeling turned around and lost, I realized the even weightier dilemma presented. The little boy waited, rather impatiently, at the gate for a payment due for his services. Sorrow filled my viens as I realized my innocent misinterpretation of this whole event. He was working. This was his job. I felt terribly. I felt– well, like we had contributed to, even supported, child labor. The very thought was painful.

The simple act of asking directions will never be the same. And the realization of our surroundings was new and immediate. Welcome to Salvador- a whole new experience.

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