March 18, 2012- Fortaleza, First Thoughts
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
The Brazilians from down south say this is not Brazil; they say Fortaleza is not representative, for the real Brazil you must go to Rio or Salvador.
Maybe, but Rio or Salvador we won’t ever see, not from the deck of this yacht anyhow.
No, for us Fortaleza is Brazil, so what are our first impressions?
At a first look, we like what we see: Beautiful people, beautiful Brazilian Portuguese language, and a beautiful city with tall buildings and beautiful sandy beaches. There are old churches, cathedrals, and soccer fields everywhere. Also we see high prices, traffic jams, pickpockets and dangerous barrios, of course, but despite that there is a zest for life in this town which we picked up the minute we arrived and when we hit the streets of Fortaleza we started to see all sides of it.
On the sidewalk we saw the desperate young men from the barrio whose furtive eyes watch for an easy prey and for that reason, if no other, we know we need to pay attention on these streets.
On the other hand we also saw the upper class in the expensive restaurants and exclusive shops, or just riding in their motorcars, comfortable men of power and position with elegant women at their sides, so we see who is paying those high prices.
But most of all here we have been seeing the ordinary folks around the town, on the beaches and in the shopping malls and supermarkets, and we have seen taxi drivers and shopkeepers with ready smiles. Everywhere we see middle class Brazilians, of all ages, simply going about their lives.
In that way Fortaleza is like a lot of other cities.
But Brazil, unlike some countries, is a nation rising, one of the BRIC’s, the future. And we see both the dynamism that has earned it a place in that club, and its paradox. The paradox is that despite the fact that it is an economic powerhouse, where we see the hustle and bustle of businessmen on the move and construction everywhere there is the seemingly slow pace of everything. There is the daily two-hour siesta when shops close. There are the officials who, however polite and incorruptible, work at such a leisurely pace you want to tear your hair out, and there are the clerks in the stores who will happily spend twenty minutes or more with you while other customers are waiting. You can’t hurry these people.
We need to stay here a while and try to understand these things better.
So, we’ve signed up for a month at the marina and we’ve started a daily routine of swimming in the pool each morning, and we will go out on most days to try to get the real feel of the pulse of this enigmatic Brazil.
Which is why we came here.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Fortaleza, Brazil
PS: We arrived on March 16, Docked at Marina Park, Randy & Laura signed off, and we are on our own and settled in already.