Last year, in La Paloma, Uruguay, Mark wasn’t allowed to climb the lighthouse because kids had to be at least 8 years old. I went alone and I understood why when I was shown a ladder—it was steep and quite dangerous.
But four-year-old Mark was offended. Life wasn’t fair. He should have been allowed in because he was tall. Like, he had broccoli, once, and broccoli make you big and strong, right?
Mark has been looking for a lighthouse to climb for the past twelve months. This kid is stubborn and I’m not wondering who he gets that from (the answer would be, both of us). Unfortunately, the world is surprisingly short on climbable lighthouses, especially when you don’t live by the seaside. Ottawa? Zero lighthouse. France? A few lighthouses, none of them open to the general public.
The Farol da Barra is one of Salvador’s most famous icons. We were a five-minute walk from the historical lighthouse and the local gathering point. We were going to climb it for sure.
Except it wasn’t that easy. On day two in Salvador, we showed up too late to visit the lighthouse. Then on day three, it was boarded up and I couldn’t find the entrance. On day three, I found the entrance but since Praça Farol da Barra was also the meeting point for Pré-Carnival, we didn’t make it to the door. On Sunday, it was closed. On Monday, it was closed as well.
“It’s probably closed during Carnival,” I told Mark. “I’m sorry!”
I felt so bad for him I bought a water gun from one of the vendors in front of the damn lighthouse.
And I hate guns.
But on our last day in Salvador, as we were walking aimlessly toward the lighthouse, we noticed the door was open. Finally!
We rushed in and bought tickets. The lighthouse is actually an interesting maritime museum but most people climb it for the breathtaking view of Baía de Todos os Santos.
And so Mark climbed the lighthouse. Mission accomplished.
One at the top, I was suddenly inspired to go to the beach. Funny enough, we didn’t swim in Salvador. We walked along the many small beaches but I didn’t spend time on the sand. Salvador’s beaches look great in pictures but up close, they are small and rocky.
Looking at the postcards in the lighthouse’s souvenir shop, we also realized Pelourinho, the historical district, looked pretty good at night and it may be worth checking out.
Suddenly, there were tons of things we wanted to do even though an hour earlier, we didn’t have plans for that last day in Salvador.
Oh… and apparently, Carnival, or rather Pré-Carnival, was back as well. After one day of rest, Barra was once again getting ready for some kind of party—beer was being delivered, more boarding was taking place, the neighbourhood was packed.
We went to the beach and then I walked to Pelourinho right before sunset—the guys were going to take a taxi. On my way, I bought a new bikini and a t-shirt for 10 reais (about $3), as well as a completely ridiculous unicorn print top. I can’t think of a less flattering tank top but hey, every Brazilian woman seems to wear it for Carnival!
We hung out in Pelourinho where the churches were packed and drummers were taking over the street.
Back in Barra, the party was starting. At 10 p.m., a giant mob was marching toward the lighthouse. It was crazy, so crazy that we joined them. I carried Mark on my back through the human mass. There were still cars, moto taxis, buses and trucks (?!) trying to make their way through—we were inches from the vehicles.
“WE ARE NOT TAKING THAT STREET BACK!” I shouted.
“NO! WE WILL GO AROUND!”
But the thing is, you can’t escape Carnival and the thousands of people filling the streets.
And once again… Carnival hasn’t even officially started yet!