During our stay in Salvador we were lucky, or unlucky, to experience a very large protest. The police in the city went on strike, they were protesting for higher salaries. Since they went on protest, the city pretty much shut down. We were unable to have class for the week since the building we were using for classes was closed. We moved out of our homestays and into a hostel at the perfect time. The schedule was already set to have us all be in a hostel together for the last week in Salvador (not quite sure why though since I’m pretty sure everyone would have loved another week with their families). It ended up being very beneficial though since then we were all under the same roof during this strike.
At first the strike seemed like it was only for a day or two, but it continued on for about a week. As the week progressed crime rates went up as did murders. We were reading articles to learn more about the situation as well as skyping with parents to calm their nerves. The teachers had our safety as their highest concern and were keeping a close eye on the protest. They set up some new rules for us to follow and told us we had to be in the hostel by sundown. (which wasn’t that bad since our hostel had this awesome outdoor patio, plenty of hammocks, and free capirinahs at 7pm every night). While I felt pretty childish and restricted from enjoying the city, I never felt unsafe. I also later found out the curfew was a statewide rule, not just an Augustana rule.
In the end, the school chose to have us get on planes out of Salvador a few days earlier than planned. Everyone had mixed feelings about it. We missed what would have been an awesome weekend trip to Cachoiera, a nearby town outside of Salvador, where there were some unique activities planned for us to enjoy. On the other hand though, we were getting out of this quarantine and onto Brasilia where we could walk around outside and not have to leave our cameras behind for fear of them being stolen. In the end, I think everyone recognized that there wasn’t anything we could do about it. Whether happy with the decision or not, we were getting out of Salvador within 24 hours from when the teachers told us.
The funny part in this whole situation was that the new departure date came quite abruptly. Everyone had bought food, water, and alcohol for an entire week and didn’t know what to do with it now that we were leaving so soon. That night we had a massive party in the hostel, people “had” to drink all their alcohol and eat all of their food because we are poor college students and the idea of leaving a roll of bread behind is absurd. Ellen went as far as to travel with 5 bananas and 2 liters of water (liquids are allowed on Brazilian airlines.. as was my mace that I found in my purse after we had boarded haha).
In the end, there have been several benefits to leaving early. While I was extremely bummed we missed Cachoiera, we have been able to see more of Brasilia. I can’t believe that the program had only allotted 2 days for us to conquer this very strange and unique capitol.