How to walk in Salvador

For a long time, I would get annoyed at the way people walk on the streets of Salvador:

1) Slowly
2) Illogically – sometimes people seem to change their path just to get in your way
3) With random stoppage, such as to look at a window display or toy with their cell phone, thus causing anyone hot on their heels to take emergency evasive maneuvers to avoid plowing into them.

I, with my NYC power walk, go faster than 99% of Salvador’s pedestrians. Don’t these people have anyplace to be?! I would mentally huff as I blew past three middle-aged women strolling side-by-side and taking up the entire sidewalk.

My perspective has since changed.

I give fourteen English classes a week in different parts of the city, and punctuality is essential. For each class, I know exactly how much transport and walking time to allow in order to arrive on time. My Monday night student lives a 25-minute walk away, and the route involves ascending and descending two hills. One night, slightly behind schedule, I had to turbo-boost my power walk in order to get there by 7 PM – which I did! Success!

Not quite. I arrived punctually, but sweaty and disheveled. Wet spots could be seen on my shirt. The student’s apartment had no A/C. Not even a fan or an open window. I dripped. I sat there uncomfortably, trying to keep my perspiring forearms off the glass table as I gave class. My student didn’t say anything, but I felt gross, smelly, and unprofessional.

Now I understand why Bahians walk slowly. Power walking in this tropical climate may get you to your destination faster, but you’ll arrive looking and feeling disgusting. These days, I leave ten minutes earlier and reduce my speed from “power walk” to “normal” – so that I can give my English classes looking (and smelling) good!