Guns and Poses

It was quite disconcerting really .

One moment I’m looking at a samba band on stage: all wearing hats made out of banana leaves , leaping around like idiots and generally having a great time

Then I glance to my immediate right and there are three armed cops monitoring the increasingly sweaty and boisterous crowd

And when I say armed , I mean armed. Not those little sidearm pistols but bloody great automatic rifles

Crime and security are a big issue here though I have to say that in a little under 2 months I’ve not personally witnessed anything bad

But the TV bulletins are full of it.

The other night I saw coverage of a hapless motorist who was pulled from his car after committing some unspecified crime (unspecified cos I couldn’t undetstand the commentary)

He was unceremoniously bundled under the parcel shelf of a police car no bigger than a Renault Clio

Whatever it was he’d done, he won’t be doing it again any time soon

Largely because – if I understood the captions – he seems to have disappeared

There was an interview with a senior policeman in which he probably said there would be a full independent inquiry.

Shame I won’t be here to find out what happened to him

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Africa in Brazil

I’ve flown 1500 miles to reach Salvador

Exciting. Vibrant. And bloody edgy

Its the centre of African Brazilian culture and music
It’s also the third biggest city in Brazil.
We tourists head mainly for the beautiful Pelourinho district. It has faded colonial architecture and squares all blasting out Brazilian rhythms.
If you are lucky you’ll see Caporeia dancers going through their moves in that curious mixture of martial arts and gymnastic dancing

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Women wearing brightly coloured costumes with huge underskirts
But try to take a pic without paying and you’ll know about it.

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But what glossy travel mags like National Geographic Traveller (a magazine I’m slowly beginning to loathe) dont tell you is that there is a dark side

I went to two music events last night and was propositioned by hookers at both

The first was pretty unsubtle. Claiming in broken English she “liked me” before grabbing me.

I tried to explain I was married but she wouldn’t leave me alone. Mindful of a huge Brazilian dude who was either her pimp or spurned customer ,I pretended I was going to the Bar before exiting stage left

At the second bar it was a woman who’d lived in Hull of all places

She began a normal conversation til I asked what she did for a living

“I am a night lady”

Cue another hasty exit

I have never seen so many cops in one tiny place. They are all armed and stand on every street corner

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Tourism is the life blood of this place. And the police are here to add reassurance.

But there’s quite a bit of street crime. The hotel manager told .me three guys were robbed of their necklaces right under the noses of the military police

A TV reporter I met told me the problem here is crack cocaine. The kids rob tourists to pay for their habit

I’ve got just one more day to stay safe

Getting cross at the Crossing

I’d like to think it was just coincidence that the only passenger left stranded at the Argentinian border crossing just happened to be English

I’d gone to see those spectacular Iguazu waterfalls from the Argentinian side of the border, a journey which involved the bureaucratic crossing of the frontier

When you get to the crossing you have to get out and get your passport stamped and if you are an idiot – like me – you also take the opportunity to change Brazilian Real to Argentinian Peso

In theory the bus should wait for you if you are quick.

I was the first to get my passport stamped and thought I had time to change currency

I did have time to change currency

But I hadn’t reckoned with the Slowest Money Changer In The World

He licked the end of his pencil. Sighed and then began the tortuous process of getting his Amstrad style computer to do the maths

I swear he must have tapped the keys a thousand times as I grew increasingly fidgety and impatient. Then, just as I thought the labyrinthine process was completed,he tapped out another complicated sequence of strokes that could have harboured the code to the United States’ nuclear first strike capability

He asked for my passport. Then I swear he smiled

I heard the bus rev up and move on just as he was making me sign my signature for the fourth time.

I walked out just in time to see the bus disappear into the distance. Leaving me to wait an hour for the next one

Thank you, Jeremy Clarkson