New York City vs. Salvador

5 ways NYC beats Salvador

1. The public transportation system. The subway can take you practically anywhere, AND we have buses and taxis as well. It’s unusual to wait more than 15 minutes for a train, whereas in Salvador it’s a miracle to wait less than 15 minutes for a bus. I’ve had bad luck here lately… my waits have been on the order of 40-60 minutes.

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2. The ability to walk the streets in peace – without anyone harassing me, commenting on my body, following me and trying to sell me something, or attempting to give me a Senhor do Bonfim ribbon as a “present.” In NYC the rule is to mind your own business… in fact, it can be rude to even make eye contact. In Salvador, the constant onslaught can be exhausting (though this is probably made worse by the fact that I live in the historical center).

3. The streets are cleaner. I know most people wouldn’t describe NYC streets as “clean” – but at least you are less likely to see people spitting, urinating, blowing their nose, spilling out old beer, or using the street as a trash can – all common in Salvador. I mean – New Yorkers actually pick up their dog’s poop and take it with them! (I know it’s a law… but it amazes me that people actually follow it.)

4. The efficiency. NYC generally has a culture of getting things done and doing them right – and quickly. After all, competition in the city is ruthless and the cost of living is high… so you have to perform, and well, or else you won’t make it. In Salvador, by contrast, there’s always some delay, excuse, or screw-up… the post office is on strike. The bus didn’t come. The store claims to open at 9 AM, but it’s really more like 10:30. The documents are missing. It was a holiday, so the work didn’t get finished. It was a holiday on Tuesday, so no one worked on Monday. Et cetera.

5. There is actually stuff to watch on TV. You can usually find something interesting to watch at pretty much any hour of the day, between the travel and food channels, comedy central, various news networks, movie channels, etc. Brazil’s TV programming seems to consist of:
– Soap operas
– News
– Soccer
– Crummy movies

5 ways Salvador beats NYC

1. The view. My apartment window in NYC faced a brick wall. My apartment window in Salvador faces the ocean. There have been times when I’e come home – particularly if it’s around the hour of sunset or moon-set – and just spent 15 minutes staring, unable to do anything but take in the beauty.

2. The capoeira. Although NYC has what’s probably one of the best capoeira and Brazilian culture scenes in the U.S., Salvador blows it away. I can go to 5 capoeira angola rodas in one weekend… and that pretty much says it all! Add to that the high concentration of mestres who live here, and you essentially have all a capoeirista could want.

3. The dollar goes farther. None of this paying $1000/month for an apartment the size of a closet crap…

4. Days seem to last longer here. I’m not sure if it’s Salvador’s more relaxed atmosphere, or the lack of a 35-minute subway commute… but the hours seem to stretch on forever, even though I’m working full time and training MORE than I was in NY.

5. Year-round warmth. We are entering winter in the southern hemisphere… which means the temperature sometimes dips below 75 degrees and Bahians start complaining about the “cold.” How can I explain that NY winters involve entire weeks when the temperature doesn’t make it above freezing? And don’t get me started on the snow/sleet/ice… I’ll take sun any day!

5 ways they are similar

1. Good food. Salvador has açaí, água de coco, acarajé, moqueca, feijoada… New York has bagels, food from every ethnicity imaginable, good cheese and good wine.

2. Speaking of food… in NYC I couldn’t leave a speck of food in the kitchen because of the cockroaches. In Salvador I can’t leave a speck of food in the kitchen because of the ants. Unfortunately, this is another similarity.

3. People drive like maniacs… and the pedestrians are equally daring! In NYC people drive aggressively… in Salvador people drive, shall we say, creatively. In NY, pedestrians can bring traffic to a halt by their sheer numbers… in Salvador, people cross the street pretty much whenever and wherever.

4. There is never a boring day. Pretty much all you have to do is step outside your door and you’re bound to come across something interesting – whether a spontaneous samba jam or a guy walking down 8th Avenue in a rhinocerous costume.

5. FICA-NY and FICA-Bahia both have a really wonderful energy, each in their own way. FICA-NY’s strong points are its tight community, its involvement in youth work, its participatory model of group administration, and its great music. FICA-Bahia’s strong points are its more intense training/playing, its strong leadership by mestre and the advanced students, its diversity of people from around the world, and its great music. (What can I say… FICA has great music worldwide!) Both are awesome groups to be a part of.


It looks like a tie…What do you think? Which city wins?