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.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Wednesday, June 8th

Hello, everybody...

Well, I've been here for over a month now and am settling in nicely. It rained ALL last evening well into the morning hours but the sun is now shining and it's a beautiful day. The weather is forecasted to dry out and we're supposed to be moving out of the rainy season; however, it wasn't forecasted to last this late to begin with.

It's been an interesting week; a movie, a couple of meetings with a special friend, a trip to the beach, driving into the countryside to look at two houses...all of these have given me new perspectives of Fortaleza and my time here.

Last Wednesday I went to the movies with my friend, Howard. The movie theaters are similar to those in the US except probably a little smaller. They play the sound at maximum volume which means that you have a headache and can't hear anything for at least ten minutes after leaving the theater. However, I have to say that watching Star Wars and The Crusader you felt like you were in the middle of the wars. (It is interesting watching the two back to back...One a thousand years in the past, the other a thousand years in the future, yet war is the same...scary thought.)

Saturday afternoon I received a call from a friend to meet for lunch; I had only met her one other time and I was very happy that she called. She had been an exchange student in Knoxville, Tennessee several years ago and speaks excellent English. It was wonderful to listen to her slant on things here; I learned quite a bit about Brazil and Fortaleza. She's an extremely nice person to talk to with a beautiful smile and a warm personality; I think she personifies the beauty of Brazilian women.

We met in one of the shopping malls along with my friend, Andy and had an extremely pleasant afternoon. This particular mall has musicians in the food court that play MPB and Bossa Nova as well as some jazz on Saturday afternoons so I got a little bit of live entertainment. I had met the keyboard player, Luciano the Saturday before and was able to chat with him for a few moments.

The malls here are very upscale and nice. They are in a par with the nicest malls in the States; however, the products found there are also equal in price to the States. All the stores have excellent, knowledgeable people as help; the interesting thing is that when you go into one of these stores there are several people right there to assist you; you, the customer is number one in their eyes and they are there for you.

After we left the mall, we drove into the countryside about fifty miles looking for a house. (More on that later.) While it didn't rain on our trip out and back, the clouds hung low to the ground and we could see off into the distant south rain falling in torrents. (That rain arrived in Fortaleza later that evening.) We drove through the center of a little village looking for the road that would take us to Caponga Beach but never did find it. What struck me was the cleanliness of the village. While it had a very South American flavor, the streets were immaculately kept up. This is something I have found throughout Ceara; once you get outside of the city of Fortaleza, people take exteme pride in their villages and keep make them very livable.

Sunday, Andy and I went to the beach and met our friend, James. James has spent many years in Brazil and Fortaleza and is quite comfortable in the surroundings. He speaks excellent Portuguese and is able to interact with the local people in a way that most think he is from here. He was with his lovely lady friend, Rosemary which made the afternoon quite enjoyable. Being surrounded with good friends, sun, sand, beach, ocean breezes, the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, good food and drink along with beautiful people made for a wonderful time. (I know, some of you are wondering what I was doing there with beautiful

That night Andy and I walked to Beira Mar (the beach walk) where Andy made some calls and I watched the people. Beira Mar becomes a city within it's self after the sun goes down; there are thousands of people who walk, jog, stroll, talk and interact every night there. The city has set aside a part of it for an open market and you can buy just about anything there; leather goods, cashew nuts, cloths, hand made items. About a block to the east there is an open gallery for artists; some of the pictures are so beautiful that they would be scooped up in seconds in the United States.

Andy and I have found a deli/restaurant a block from us that we go to each morning for breakfast. For around four dollars we can get an egg and cheese sandwich on a French roll, a large glass of orange juice and two cups of coffee. It's a place where a lot of the important people of our area (Meireles) meet and discuss the events of the day. We've met several interesting people there.

After breakfast we met Helia, a salesman and drove twenty minutes into the countryside to look at a house there; it is a beautiful four bedroom house located on a lagoon. It's about 3300 sq. ft. on a large lot. All the materials are first class and the construction is top rate. You can see the pride that was put into the house. It is brand new and has never been lived in; the price is about $145,000 American for the house. (In the States it would sell for $350,000 or more.) I will include one picture of it but have several more if you would like to see them.

Yesterday, after breakfast Andy, Thieny and I drove to Caponga Beach (about an hour east of town) to look at Neil's house. His home is right on the beach; looking out all of his windows to the Northeast you can almost touch the Atlantic Ocean. It is on a HUGE lot that is all landscaped with a large pool; the total size of the house is over 4200 sq. ft. It is absolutely beautiful and would cost close to a million dollars in the United States. He's asking around $110,000 American for it. Again, I will include one picture but have several if you are interested in seeing what $110,000 will buy in Brazil!!!!

After we saw that we drove to a house that belonged to someone that Andy has been corresponding with for a while; it's supposed to be the largest house in Fortaleza. I haven't seen all of the houses, but this one is definitely HUGE. The main house is over 10,000 sq. ft. in size with an elevator, two large master suites, a kitchen that is larger than my apartment as well as many other amenities. There are four other buildings in the compound, three of them having large two bedroom suites. The entire complex will cost close to a million dollars when completed; if built in the US it would probably cost nearly ten million dollars.

After we came back I relaxed and ate dinner but around eight in the evening received a call from my friend inviting me out for dinner. Since I had already eaten, I wasn't hungry but joined her for coffee. It was a delightful time with very stimulating conversation. It is really interesting to talk to her; she is very well educated and extremely intelligent, has excellent insights both about Brazil and the United States and where we as two different peoples are going in respect to each other. The other wonderful thing about her is that she has excellent taste in music and knows all the good spots around the city to listen to MPB.

Normally I try to write my insights and observations but this time decided to give you and idea of a typical week here. I'm sure that it will be different as time goes on, but you can see that I'm keeping busy. I haven't had as much of a chance to work on my books as I would like, but I'm still at it.

My maid is here right now; I want to say something about that. I think some people feel like a maid is a "second grade person" because they do the work for you; I don't!! My maid is wonderful...not only does she keep my apartment immaculate and does the other things such as washing, ironing and cooking, but she does all of it with a smile and a wonderful attitude. It is really a pleasure to have her here and I try to treat her with the respect and caring that every person is entitled to.

Coming here is a wonderful experience for me. I love Brazil and Fortaleza; this was definitely the right decision for me. I never thought that I would have such a fantastic time as I'm having now. There are some things that I don't care for, mainly the rain, but it's great.

Brazilian people are wonderful; they have a spirit and an attitude that is different that Americans do; they are positive about almost everything and seem to be able to see the positive almost all of the time. I have found that most are "glass half full" people. I am treated with smiles and nice laughter where ever I go; I don't see sour glum faces on people.

I still feel as though we all have to follow our dream and do what we don't dare do; it is the only way that we can feel truly complete. Once that experience happens, the world looks different.

Anyway, so much for my philosophizing for today. I will include three pictures as usual but I hope to be able to have a link to my pictures after this BLOG; my friend, Norman in Cowchip, Alabama is working on it. (He is that unknown genius who lives just outside of town and associates with Doc from "Back to the Future".)

I always appreciate any comments that you might make, either on the BLOG or emailing me direct. I try to answer them all but sometimes don't get a chance.

Until next time....


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