Today I had the good fortune to receive an invitation from one of my wealthy students to go out on the Bay of All Saints on his yacht. I have been on his boat a couple of times in the past, and each time it is pretty mind blowing for the pure fact of actually riding on an expensive yacht, but also for the views of the city and the island that are only visible by private boat.
Something unusual happened on this ride...we saw 2 dead penguins! I saw on the news about 2 weeks ago that people have been finding penguins, alive and dead, on the coast in and around Salvador. Apparently there is some kind of El Nina happening, and the tides in this part of the Atlantic are getting all turned around. These penguins are from the southern part of South America, but somehow have ended up here in the tropical waters of northern Brazil. The live ones are being stabilized and will be returned to Argentina (I think that is what they said on the news!) when they are back to their normal state. Here is a picture of one of the bodies. Sorry if it is kind of gruesome, but I thought it was interesting.
Another fact that is hard to ignore when cruising around off the coast of the city is the vast divide between the rich and poor. Someone told me that the gap between rich and poor here is the second greatest in the world, after Sierra Leone. I´m not sure how true this is, but it is certainly evident when you see a favela (slum) situated right next to one of the most expensive apartment buildings in Salvador. Apartments in this building go for R$2.5 million and up, which in US currency is about $1,560,000. Wow- imagine that for one apartment?!
It also is pretty strange to be cruising around on this expensive yacht and to pass fisherman on their little boats trying to eek out a living catching fish. A lot of fisherman live in the favela in this picture, which is right next to the building where my student lives. In the morning when we are having our English classes on his veranda, I sometimes look out to see the guys getting their boats all prepared to head out and try to get the days catch. Then I think too about how polluted the water is and the fact that they eat the fish and seafood that they catch, and how unhealthy it is for them, but that it is their only option. If only there was some way to spread things around a little more evenly!
All in all, it was a nice morning/early afternoon. The ocean was a bit rough, but it was fun to be out and in the sun. Being winter and pretty rainy as of late, I don´t even remember the last time I wore my bathing suit out in the sun! After our cruise we went back to his apartment, had a great traditional Bahian lunch and now I am back in my apartment chilling out. Ahh, Sunday.