Give me a mud map and some advice from a local any day - it's where the adventure really begins.
She warned me I would be the only foreigner/non-African descendant and I was OK with that, perhaps even a little excited about being off the tourist trail.
I was in steamy Salvador. All the obligatory attractions had been ticked off the list and I was in need of a different experience. Even if it did involve a rat (of the furry kind).
Salvador is a bayside city full of contrast and energy, particularly in Pelourinho, the historical centre with its cobblestone streets and buildings painted in every colour of the rainbow. The police on every corner made it feel safe to wander and explore the narrow laneways where music bursts from random doorways. But back to the rat ....
With over 4 million Africans having been sent to Brazil as slave labour up until the mid-1800's, there is a very strong African influence and culture in this part of Brazil. Conspicuously pale amongst the traders at the local African market, I stopped to admire the cage of little birds. I thought the man was yelling at me not to take a photo, but he was warning me about the dead rat he was sweeping past my foot. #Gladitmissed.
With bowls and pottery jars for offerings, bark, herbs, unidentifiable fruit and the reddest dried shrimps I've ever seen, it was fascinating to be immersed in the cultural melting pot that is northern Brazil.
Gotta love a local with a mud map.