Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Unofficial Mayor of Salvador

It always happens that right in the moment I can never remember how to say something appropriate. Seems very Dana. But here, in Brasil, it's more that I remember just after I mumble some nonsensical blur of engfraportugelish the actual way to express that which I'm trying to impart on the generally innocent brazilian bystander. No one seems to mind, and for the most part it works. Et ca c'est la vie ici. Easy, tranquilo. A place where you can point at the empty seat on the bus, temporarily forgetting the term for seat is "lugar", say "Esta personne?" and the person shakes their head (maybe thinking, "uau, gringa doida") and the seat is mine. 

This kind of kakimame communication and buzzing about is the charm of Bahia e Salvador. And the unofficial mayor of Salvador? His name is Glazer (though it flashes Antonio when he calls me on the portable he secured for me). Glazer, met me on the corner up the street from Rogerio e Flavia's to take me for some sopa and give me more medical supplies to bring to Frances e Diego--he is a trusted and beloved friend of theirs for many years. 

Aspirator? Check. Heart monitor? Check. Rubber gloves? Check check check.

I quickly learned that Glazer knows everyone in the Barra (lower neighborhood) and we basically say hi to them--being everyone--as we squirrel our way through the streets picking up imosec (immodium for those not so fresh moments), ibiprofeno, 3 crazy tshirts to wear on New Year's Eve (though they seem highly flammable, so don't wear near an open flame or even if you are very warm potentially), e os otras coisas. We say 'tudo bem?' to the butcher, the baker, the sopa maker and his mother, all the ladies 'ola querida!', some friend at the department of information (we stopped for "information" on what, je ne sais pas), oh, and even his pilates teacher. He has lived in the neighborhood for thirty years. I get the distinct feeling that he has networks in high and low places, possibly a higher-up in the Salvador gay mafia, and could manifest most anything desired. All of this in the package of a short, roundish man with stylish thick glasses, snazzy sneakers and an engaging, rapid fire chatter.

Glazer asks, Where would I like to go? I respond, Can we see the sea? He says, Of course, and off we go, winding through the piles of bottles, sugar cane remains, trash, cobblestones and the streets teeming with afterwork holiday shoppers. I follow him into a building and up to the fifth floor. I ask where we are going, he says, my pilates class. Glazer seems to always have a plan so you just have to trust. We knock on the door, he explains something to his smiling, welcoming teacher, and she leads me through the confused class in mid-posture to the window, pulls aside the taut white curtain and points. Et voila. If you lean in, tilt your head at the right angle there it was. The sea. Or, the Atlantic, rather. She then lovingly guides me over to the other window for what I can only assume is another view, and yes, there it was again. We giggle (oh, there's a whole other post coming on how Bahian women embrace their eternal girlish playfulness), I spend a few moments embracing the waves and the setting sun and then we are on the move again. God, what I wouldn't have given to stay in that class and do some pilates--my sciatics are killing me.

We kavetch about our aching hips like old women and take a soup together. He tells me that he has to warn off sweets, but then we order um bolo (the cake). We split it and we tell his liver to just relax and enjoy. To get the medical supplies we head up to his place, a tiny brightly painted apartment with a disproportionately large flatscreen and his proudly displayed collections of buddhas. He is an ardent buddhist. Very matter-of-factly, he says that my bus ride that evening to Palmeiras (near Capao) will be hell with my aching sciatic nerves so he lays down a little mat, a sheet, and pulls out a big automatic massager. He says its helped him, So lie down. So far he hasn't lead me astray. For the next fifteen minutes he leans into me with that massager and my hip pain is temporarily relieved. 

I tell him its a first to have a man buy me dinner and massage me and not expect something more. Pretty much I'd have to be darker and with penis to do it for him anyway, so we are a great match.

Oh and in the elevator he says, you know you'd have trouble if you stayed her in Salvador. Why, I ask. Because you have a huge ass. Ha. Maybe the smallest at Porta da Barra beach, but big enough for the unofficial mayor of Salvador to note. 

Next stop, Capao, the hippie kingdom of Bahia, where Frances e Diego are nesting and getting ready for the newest member of their family. 

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