Name:
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.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

July 23, 2005

Hello, Everybody…

Well, it’s time for the weekly update of my BLOG and adventures in Brazil. This week I went to Lagoinha, a beach resort seventy-seven miles west of Fortaleza. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Ceara. My wonderful friend, Norman has allowed me to include several pictures which can be reached by a cut and paste to the following site:


http://www.normnet.net/braziltraveler/braziltraveler.htm

Click on photo archives, then on July 23, 2005


I was picked up at eight-ten by the Ocean View tour bus, this time with a new tour guide, Sara in charge. She hustled us into the bus, one by one at each stop; there was a long delay as she waited from some people from Belem to join us but outside of that things ran smoothly. We were on our way by nine o’clock, whisking through western Fortaleza. I had been on this trip four years ago but the road out of town hadn’t been completed then; now it is a four lane divided highway all the way out past Cumbuco.

The drive was one of the most pleasant I have had since I arrived; it is beautiful scenery with lots of rolling hills, some mountains, fields, palms, fresh water lakes and rivers along the way. The countryside is much different than the east; much more lush and green with lots of agriculture and palms everywhere. Sugar, carnauba palms, cashew trees and corn dot the landscape. There are several villages and lots of farm houses along the way; everything is kept up and neat.

We arrived at the beach in Lagoinha around ten thirty. Sara had told us some of the things available to us during our stay. The first thing I elected to do was take the side tour that was offered. It consists of three parts; a trip into the jungle on the back of a truck, a boat ride across a fresh water lake and a sand buggy ride back to the resort area. The cost is R$20 or $8.35 US.

We were loaded on a bus and took off toward the lake. We took a well traveled dirt road past trees and little houses; at one point the tour guide pointed with pride to the Lagoinha cemetery. We stopped a few times along the way, finally arriving at the lake about twenty minutes later. We had been bounced along very pleasantly along the way and were beginning to know each other.

Because there were so many people waiting to cross, we had to wait at the little rest stop for about thirty minutes before we were able to take the boat across to the other side. Everyone began to swim in the lake even though the water was cold. I made friends with two couples, Luiz and Ana and Lindomar and Katia. All spoke good English and were lots of fun. Throughout the time I spent there I hung out with the four of them as well as Miguel, Patricia and Aline from Belem.

We crossed the lake; the weather was absolutely beautiful and there was a gentle breeze blowing as the hot sun engulfed us. Everyone on the boat began laughing and joking before the boat was even off; we decided that Ana and Luiz should duplicate the famous scene from “The Titantic” but they declined. There was a lot of teasing each other; when I asked Lindomar and Katia if they were married, Lindomar said “more or less, kind of” so we all took that approach. If they kissed we teased them about having to throw the kisses in the air because they were only “more or less…”

When we reached the other side of the lake we were loaded into several sand buggies for the trip back to the resort area. Miguel sat in the front of mine and Lindomar and Katia sat on the rear with me. Katia said that she got queasy on these so she got a lot of ribbing from me. Luiz and Ana were in the other buggy; he and I teased a lot. When I asked him if he was nervous about the ride, he flexed his muscles so I had to flex mine…this became a joke between us all the way back to the resort.

The buggy took us across about six miles of beach, doubling back and going along the dunes above for a while. The dunes climb and dip thirty to fifty feet so we were constantly being tossed around. The last hill is over one hundred feet straight down and I thought that Katia was going to loose it, but like a good little trooper she survived with a pale smile on her face. Racing across the beach, over sand and water at fifty miles an hour, the sun beating down while the wind is blowing in my face is a thrill that I never can experience enough.

Once we returned to the resort we decided it was time to eat. The restaurant at the resort is wonderful; it specializes in seafood. In Brazil, much of the time the better restaurants will prepare food for two instead of individual meals; this was no different. I ordered fish in a vegetable and cream sauce with whipped potatoes. I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful this was; even though it was prepared for two people I ate almost the whole thing…I had to stop myself. The cost was less than $15 American; it would have cost twice that much in the United States.

After lunch it was necessary to take a dip in the warm Atlantic Ocean. Because Fortaleza is three degrees below the Equator the water is very warm and comfortable; it’s almost like taking a bath. I took a short swim, then Luiz and Ana wanted to take a ride on an ATV so I looked after their things while watching beautiful Brazilian women in bikinis pass by. One could have been the “Girl from Ipanema”, she fit the description to a tee…I called her “The Girl from Lagoinha”.

We loaded back on the bus at four o’clock; my friends from Belem were the last to load on as usual. Driving back I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of Brazil. We drove through several little villages. While the streets were cobblestone and the buildings small and somewhat crude by American standards, I noticed that the towns were immaculate; there was no litter or trash, the sidewalks were all swept clean of dust and dirt and the people obviously took a great deal of pride in their homes.

I was let off at my apartment around six in the evening; I took a shower to get rid of the salt air that had accumulated and got something to eat. It was a wonderful day full of laughter, good company and lots of wonderful experiences to remember.

Last night I went out with some friends for dinner at a local steak house. Steak houses here are different than in the United States; they are all open except for an overhead covering. The meat is sold by the gram and is really much better than in the States; it’s Argentinean or Brazilian beef. (Brazil produces more beef than anywhere in the world.) The restaurant had a play area so Andy and Thieny’s little boy, Israel could run, jump and play while we four adults sat and talked. Afterwards we went to a nearby confectionary shop and had ice cream; Brazil has ice cream that makes Baskin-Robins seem like something out of the grocery section.

Tonight I’m taking my friends, Erica and her husband, Vagner to a wonderful French restaurant around the corner from me; it’s her twenty-fifth birthday. Erica was the first person I met when I came to Fortaleza and we have remained friends for the last four years, emailing each other all the time.

Wednesday is my friend, Najla’s birthday; I’ll take her to lunch at Regina Diogenes, an upscale restaurant two blocks from my apartment. It has the most wonderful deserts I have ever eaten in my life. I’m told the governor and the mayor of Fortaleza eat there quite a bit so we’ll be in good company.

All in all, the second half of my week was wonderful; the first half I had a couple of things go wrong but those things happen. I still haven’t figured how I lived before the Internet came along.

I’m cutting my stay here short by a month and a half; I’ll be leaving here August 31st and arriving in Phoenix on September 1st. I decided to do that so that I can come back here again before next May if I still have to operate on a tourist visa. I’m thinking of spending New Years here; it is my understanding that Fortaleza has a wonderful New Years with an accented emphasis on throwing out the old and letting in the new.

The jury is still out as far as how much time I’ll spend here, but it gets better and better. I am going to apply for my permanent visa so that I can stay for longer periods or come down more often. I still haven’t given up my homeland but I have to say that Brazil is a wonderful place and the best of the best is Fortaleza.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s BLOG and that you might find it a little tempting to come here also. I’ve included several pictures; I took fifty-two of them so if you want to see more, just let me know. Next week I’m going to Ponta do Mundau, a beach even further west; I’ve never been there before so it will be a new experience for me. Have a wonderful week; write a comment or send me an email if you’d like.

John

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