Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ebb and flow

Life in Salvador is never dull or boring. I have a tendency to get into the rhythm of my life here and start to feel more comfortable, almost relaxed, and then something happens to shake things up. Generally not in a good way.

This morning I was walking to the bus stop and ran into my across the hall neighbor. She informed me that she was robbed on August 7 at about 6:15PM. At gunpoint. And at the bottom of the hill where I walk every single day, generally several times per day. I was just starting to feel more relaxed about being out and about on the street and now I feel like I am back to being totally paranoid and scared about walking around, which I have to do every day since I have no car and no plans to buy one. This sucks.

One of the problems is that I live just over the border between an upper-middle class neighborhood and a favela (slum). To get to my house you have to walk along the "border" (check out my "Scary Hill" post from a couple months ago) and very close to the entrance of the favela. A lot of robbers hang out around the entrance, rob people, and then run into the favela to escape. I was talking with one of the security guards who works at an apartment building close to where my neighbor was robbed and he said that the robbers will go on a little spree, then take a break so as not to raise too much suspicion with the cops. Not that the police do a whole lot to take care of this situation, but this is the rationale. And he said that more assaults happen on the weekends, but they do happen at all times of the day when folks are coming and going to work, morning and late afternoon/early evening. Just when I am walking up and down that hill.

So what to do? Well, Vilma does meet me at the bus stop to walk with me when she is home. I think that this is a deterrant to have more than one person walking together. And I do carry pepper spray, although if faced with someone who has a gun, I will certainly not be using it! I try not to carry anything of real value, but I do have to carry my cell phone because of my work. I guess there is no real answer, I just have to try thinking positive that nothing will happen to me.

A few other odds and ends:
-Vilma and I have been feeding the micos (squirrel monkeys). They are often in this tree near our building in the afternoons, and the other day one even ate a piece of banana from Vilma´s hand!
-"My" adopted dog, O Chefe, has appeared to have disappeared. Vilma said that sometimes people will call a guy who acts as a dog catcher and who takes the dogs away to some unknown fate (I don´t think that this fate involves living). It has been almost a week since I have seen him. It makes me sad to think that he might be dead.
-This picture was taken from the online newspaper "A Tarde" and is a bullet hole in a building in the favela next to where I live. There was some shoot out about a month ago that killed 4 innocent people. Drug traffickers were fighting over turf and decided to show up at this bar and open fire on innocent people. Bastards.

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