Location: Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil

After visiting Fortaleza, Brazil and feeling comfortable there, I decided to finally retire and spend some time persuing my dream: moving to Brazil. I'm spending six months in Fortaleza deciding if this is what I really want or if it is just one more step in my life. I have been fortunate enough to do everything I ever wanted to do, have had a good career in Air Traffic Control and am now ready to go out and have fun. I played jazz for many years and it is my second passion. I also just finished the first draft of my novel, "Song For A Sad Smile" and will work on researching my next book. My idea is that all of us should "Do the Dream" and follow your heart, no matter how old you are. The final question that you'll ask when your life is almost over should be: "Did I do everything I wanted to do?" If your answer is anything except "yes" then you're not living life to its fullest.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Two and a half weeks in Fortaleza

Hi everybody...

Well, I've been here two and a half weeks and am settling in; it's been fun but really a new learning experience. I find that for the most part I'm able to function normally even though there are some things that are different.

I think that anyone who loves long hot showers or hot baths would have a problem here; the water comes out at room temperature which is around 70 degrees. You can buy a heater which will warm it up by ten degrees but it isn't like the US; there are no hot water heaters to store hot water except in the expensive hotels. (My son would never survive.)

Brazilians do things to the minimum; nothing is bigger than it needs to be and that includes bedsheets. They are so small that when sitting on the bed let alone lying on it causes the bottom sheet to come up. I got tangled in mine several times until I decided to take two sheets and put them both on the bottom; one at the head of the bed and one at the foot; now it works OK. I'm having some real sheets sent from the US.

Prices can be very high, especially for electronic goods; because of the high tariffs and shipping costs those items are unbelievable and there aren't any "deals" like in the US.

Drivers here are CRAZY...and I'm not kidding. If you walk, you take your life into your hands; crosswalks mean nothing. The most dangerous thing is cars making right turns; they don't care whether or not you're there; they will make the turn anyway and see how close to you they can come then prove that their horn works! I think it's against the law to let another car be in front of you for more than ten seconds; you HAVE to pass him which means that the speed limit really isn't effective.

Bureaucratic nonsense is at the maximum; you have to buy something from one person, then go to another for a slip, a third to pay, then take the slip back to the second person, then go to the first person who gives it to a fourth person to package for you; I'm not sure whether it's to give jobs or cut down on theft but it sure is aggravating.

Those are some of the "down sides"; on the other hand there are lots of up-sides. The weather, while humid and hot right now (it's the rainy season) is really not bad at all. It's quite tropical with rains in the morning and sun in the afternoon. A breeze generally pops up in the afternoon and while humid is quite bearable, especially if you stay out of the sun.

The food is cheap and excellent. Brazilians' main meal is the mid-meal which is plentiful. The evening meal is light and just enough to let your stomach know it's stil there; this has taken some adjustment to me because of the way I'm used to eating. However, I'm finding that I'm not eating as much. I've lost about five pounds and hope to loose even more by the time I get back to the States.

The women here are really outstanding; while they come in all shapes and sizes, colors, heights, weights, etc., for the most part they are extremely attractive. Most are typically Latin and have dark eyes, dark hair, high cheekbones, dark skin, very nice shapes and white teeth. I can't say that every one that I've seen would make a Playboy model, but most are very nice looking and FIT. There are very few that are heavy and I have only seen ONE who was obese!! There are 150,000 more women than men in Fortaleza and they are everywhere. Most of the time they wear a halter-top and either shorts, pants or a short skirt that shows off their nice tan legs. It seems that when they smile they light up; they really look beautiful. All the women that I have met are very friendly and will talk if they speak English at all. I can truly say that being here is a pleasure for me!!

I'm getting used to my apartment and finding that it really is comfortable; by American standards it's small but it's very functional and meets all of my needs. It's interesting how much we think we need but when faced with it, we really can do well with less; my TV is a 12" and works quite well; I bought some computer speakers that I have set up to a little travel CD player and have music playing all the time; I have a little table/desk that my computer is on as well as printer and other things and it's really good. I'm in about a third of the space that I was in when I was in Phoenix yet am just as comfortable. I don't have a car but I sure am doing a lot of walking and it works. It's really made me take a second look at my life and my priorities.

Most things other than electronics are inexpensive; Andy and I split a pizza the other day for $5.50 that would have cost $15.00 in the States; my maid costs $6.12 for a half of a day or $12.28 for a whole day and she starts at 7:30 and leaves at 4:30, mopping the floors, washing and ironing all my cloths, cleaning all the cabinets, fixing me a noon and an evening meal, changing the bed, cleaning both bathrooms, cleaning all the mirrors and windows. She's very pleasant and attractive.

There are three malls within walking distance from me and they are really upscale; the prices are quite comparable to the US and the prices would fit US prices. I can't see myself shopping there; there are lots of places in Fortaleza that normal people shop that aren't anywhere as high.

If I had this to do again I'd do it the same way; while I have encountered some frustrations there hasn't been nothing that I haven't been able to deal with. Every morning at 6:30 I get up and start the coffee and look out of my patio door onto the Atlantic Ocean and I have to say that the view is as good as my view was in Coyote Lakes. I watch the ships come in and out of port during the day and see them as they settle waiting for a place to dock; at night they're lit up like a Christmas tree and it's really wonderful. (I just looked out the door and there are THREE ships waiting, all lit up and really need to see.) I can look out and watch the storm clouds over the ocean and watch them make landfall; one minute it's clear, the next it's raining buckets, then five minutes later it's clear again.

I haven't been out to take any pictures so I'll put in a few more from my apartment; I hope you like them. Write me and let me know what you think and if you have any questions.

Until next time...John


Blogger Sandra B said...

Hey John
Thanks for the pictures, the roofs of the builds sure are nice, one of these days you should go out side and take photos. The states are doing just fine with the petty bickering of the elected parasites, ATC still is one vector at a time. Arizona is breaking records with high heat. Pretty much the same old song and dance as when you were here. Hope you are doing well.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Ed Skinner said...

Pete had a "guitarbeque" last night. Lots of regular faces (and guitars) but also a couple of new ones. One plays Flamenco for a living but loved Bossas and knew lots of Jobim that the others didn't. Anita came out of her shell late in the evening and sang several, very light and airy, her voice sounding like your Brazilian evenings might feel.
Clay was there but didn't play. We talked books and politics and a little Annie but not much of the latter. Time heals if you let it, I think.
Some day I've got to break-up the recording I have of Vicki and Judy's duo but, like several other projects, it awaits a stretch of several hours to get started. I'll send you one of the first copies when it's ready.
Can you get what I think is called an "instant" water heater? It looks like a tiny water heater but only about the size of a one gallon jug. It heats water as it flows through the pipe, and only when it's flowing: there's no "storage" per se, just "on demand" heating. I encountered one in a tiny shower in a Bed and Breakfast in Scotland and had to pay extra to use it, and did so gladly. (Of course, it was also below freezing most mornings, unlike where you are.)
Tell us about the music. What are you hearing live? What do they play on the radio?

11:37 AM  

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