Tag Archives: swimming

Exotic British Masochists

Since I’ve been in Salvador I’ve established the habit of having breakfast at one of the many little bars and cafés in Dois de Julho while reading a local paper. It’s a way of getting me through my morning blues, reading some Portuguese and keeping up with what’s going on. There are always some interesting crime stories which I find fascinating because of the human drama behind them.

Today A Tarde carried a section called ‘The New York Times: International  Weekly’ in Portuguese with various stories from around the world. The one that caught my eye was by Katrin Bennhold. It was a story about the apparently growing popularity of winter swimming in unheated outdoor pools in London. Continue reading


I’m quite wary about blogging on this beach visit in Salvador, Brazil. After all I have enough trouble persuading people that I am here working and researching, rather than on holiday. And although I do occasionally go, for a swim and run perhaps at the  end of another sweltering day, it tends to be a bit of a project. Get the bus, or walk, where is safe to walk? Will the beach be too empty (not  safe) or too full (not safe). Once I get there, there is the problem of what to do with my stuff while I swim. You don’t really need to take very much because cold isn’t an issue. It’s more about money really. You’ll probably want some on you, at least for a bus home, but also perhaps for a snack and a drink afterwards. The solution is to ask someone to look after your bag. I’m quite used to doing this and I’ve never had any problems with it, but it does mean scouting the beach for someone who looks friendly and trustworthy. Families are usually a good bet, but I’ve asked all sorts of people and it’s always been fine. The context here is that Salvador is fairly crime-ridden. People get mugged a lot and there are a fair amount of shootings and robberies. This leads to everyone being more or less paranoid about  security.

Today my flatmate went to  the beach and asked me to  join him. I was still doing work but said I might come later – which I did. It turned out to be a little cultural adventure. Continue reading

Sea Shanty and Shooting, Part 1

Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, September 2013

Where to start writing about this afternoon? So many impressions, so powerful, and yet almost from another reality. A film. A novel? No, I really saw it, lived it, I’m so glad I did, and then; I’m really not.

Down towards the sea. Claudio leading the way. Party atmosphere in the streets. Its Sunday, yesterday was independence day followed by protests and a minor riot, somewhere nearby there’s a gay pride parade.

We go down to the dual carriageway and cross over, dodging buses and cars. On the other side, a museum of modern art, which is closed. We take a left turn are beneath the road, following the concrete arches along. Soon they are covered in amazing graffiti. Paintings twenty feet high. Then one arch is occupied by a group of people having a meeting! Twenty sitting on plastic chairs in a circle. Claudio leads further on towards a little favela. One of the first houses we come to is an exhibition space for graffiti artists. A sweet young woman welcomes us and chats. Continue reading