I lived with some absolute nutters on my trip teaching English around the world. The craziest house I stayed at was in Brazil, Salvador. By the time I got to Brazil, I was pretty skint so I had to make do with the best I could find. A Nigerian English teacher, Murphy, who I'd met while job hunting, suggested I live with him. He didn't say anything about the other 15 people until I was on the way though. Here's the next excerpt from my book.
|Not a bad place to live for 4 months. Pelo - Bahia|
Photo by corvojoe
After a couple of days
traipsing round Salvador I realised two things. Firstly, I was probably going to
have to wait until after the Carnival to find a job; most of the directors were
welcoming, but unsure of student numbers so they couldn’t promise me a job.
Secondly, Pelo was probably one of the coolest, but dodgiest parts of Salvador.
I was determined to stay but had to find a flat. The only person I knew was
“Hey man, good to
see you,” he said in his aggressive tone. We met at the bottom of Largo do
Pelourinho. He gave me a sideways high five and whacked his knuckles on mine.
“Yeah, you too, so
- where’s the flat?”
“Up there,” he
said, pointing up a street sloping away from Pelo. I had purposely kept away
from that deserted side of the city.
“So is it your
flat?” I asked as we walked along the quiet cobbled back street. Houses were
even more worn down than the centre of Pelo.
“No man, my flat?”
he said, laughing deeply. “I am staying there, you know, it’s a Brazilian
woman’s. She has fifteen rooms.”
“The flat can be
busy, but it’s safe, you see now,” he said, wiping the sweat off his brow.
Murphy could have been a malicious gringo murderer leading me to his den. I’d
taken a risk, but it paid off. We walked for ten minutes, past a local
supermarket and a small internet cafe, and into a house that stank of spicy
meat. We waited in the square lounge.
“Come, this is the
owner,” said Murphy, introducing a dazzled lady with black frizzy hair.
“Hola, tudo bem?” she said. She was about
forty, plump, and wore a dirty stained apron. Her smile seemed friendly and
trusting. A little skinny naked kid ran through the lounge.
lady shouted. She whacked him on the bum, pushed him into a bedroom, and
slammed the door.
We followed her
past the untidy kitchen and onto the outside patio. On the left were the ten
rooms, or cells, in a prison block, five up and five down. On the right were
the two, stinky, communal bathrooms.
“Here is the room,”
said Murphy. I peered in. Two single beds took up most of the length of the
cell and were separated by a dusty chest of drawers with cobwebs hanging off at
the back and a small pile of ants scurrying around the base. Burgundy metals
bars protected the window, which had no glass.
“She clean before
you come,” said Murphy, trying to sway my decision. “I live here,” he added,
pointing to a similar cell next door. “We can be neighbours for the Carnival.”
He grinned and stuck out his pink tongue.
delighted when I agreed, especially when I told her I had a friend who wanted a
room. Nish was going to kill me.
The next morning,
Murphy escorted me to my clean cell. The view out the bars towards the toilets
was less romantic than the mountains in Quito, but it would do.
The set up of the
house was confusing so I separated everyone into three groups: The Royalty;
those that lived in the house, The Servants; those who helped The Royalty, and
The Prisoners; those that lived in the cells.
The Queen of the
house was Frizzy and her son Fabrizio was the main Prince. The King, at least I
think he was the husband, was a weird middle-aged pasty white man. He looked
European, was constantly mumbling to himself while drunk, and lived in the
I decided the young
muscular Brazilian lad with a completely shaved head was also a Prince, and a
pretty, young, and skinny Brazilian girl was a Princess. I was unsure how, or
if, the Prince and Princess were relations of Frizzy, if they were brother and
sister, or a couple.
servants included a chunky female cook with massive breasts, and a short tubby
bloke who looked like a big friendly Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear was the odd job man
and lived with the Royals, whereas Big Breasts lived somewhere else.
The Prisoners were
Murphy, I, soon to be Nish, two dark Brazilian lads: one with huge buck teeth
who watched too much television, another with a strange small head who never
flushed the toilet, and a short white curly haired girl learning the funny
string Capoeria instrument.
Of the twelve,
Murphy was the only one I understood (at least until Nish arrived). I had to
get cracking with the Portuguese.
Labels: Bahia, book excerpts, living in Brazil, Salvador, teaching English in a foreign land, travel writing