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 09, 2005

Saturday, July 8th

It’s twelve-thirty Saturday afternoon; the sun is shining brilliantly in a bright blue sky, a freighter is about to enter the harbor, sailboats are skirting the surf, people are walking along Beira Mar, automobiles are hurrying to and fro to destinations only the drivers know and it’s a beautiful day. I’m in my new penthouse apartment observing another scene in the daily life in Fortaleza.

I didn’t get my BLOG done last week because I was working on my article for Escape America which I’ll send a link to when it comes out. It was long and tedious work even though I did some “cut and paste” from earlier BLOGs. It will reach over one hundred thousand people; about ten percent will actually read it.

It’s been two interesting weeks here. I changed apartments the first of the month to a wonderful location; while it’s in the same building, I now reside in one of the penthouse apartments with one of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean in all of Fortaleza; I joke that I can see the Gold Coast of Africa from my apartment balcony. For this wonderful view it costs me $550.00 a month furnished with all utilities paid. What a deal!

I’ve been down here two months and have lost over fifteen pounds; it’s from the eating and exercise. By cutting down on the size of my meals and concentrating on having the main meal for lunch and by walking everywhere I’m much healthier than I was before. I think that many people who come here experience a rejuvenation of their health, both physical as well as mental.

I live three blocks south of the beach and the ocean; it’s a five minute walk north to reach it. During the day, Beira Mar is filled with people enjoying the beaches, the barracas and the drinking cerveja, agua de coco or Guarana and carrying on animated conversations with their table partners. Children are everywhere running and laughing and teasing each other and their parents. At night, Beira Mar becomes a mass of humans, all taking advantage of the openness of the beach walk. There can be more than ten thousand people on Beira Mar at the same time walking, strolling, running, riding a bicycle, sitting, chatting. Each is in a world of their own. Street hawkers are selling their wears; children are everywhere looking at the toys being sold. In the middle of Beira Mar directly north of me an open market sits to attract the local inhabitants; everything from cashews to cloths to hand crafted items are sold there for prices that are far less than you would pay at one of the shopping malls.

Three blocks to the south are the twin malls of Aldeota and Del Paseo. These are similar to the malls of the United States only nicer. Both have large food courts; the difference being that the food sold there is good, healthy and more substantial that the fast food courts of the US. During the weekend, in the afternoon you can hear a live jazz trio or some live Bossa Nova being played throughout the mall. People are everywhere shopping or eating; you wouldn’t know that you weren’t in a mall in Phoenix or San Jose by the scene; the difference is that signs are in Portuguese and you are in Brazil

Looking out my balcony, I can see more than thirty skyscrapers. If I lean out a little, I can see Praia de Futura and the ocean to the east. Between me and the beach are several residential areas and a favela. To the west I can see new construction building more and more apartments and hotels; Fortaleza is growing every day.

A gentle breeze blows through my apartment cooling down the rooms while Brazilian music plays in the background. My mind drifts with the music; I can feel the energy that is Brazil. I feel at home here; I’m glad that I came.

Of course, Paradise isn’t perfect; there are problems here as everywhere. I see the poverty, the starving children, the anguished, the needy. The streets are filled with thousands of cars but were designed to take far less; graffiti is everywhere as is trash. No matter how hard they try to clean these things up the next day they’re back. Fortaleza is a South American city with South American problems; far too many with far too little money.

Next Tuesday I will take a trip; I’ve taken it before and know what to expect. As I leave Fortaleza and head into the countryside, graffiti becomes less obvious; by the time I’m out of the city there is no more graffiti, hardly any trash and few signs of actual poverty. Going east to Morro Branco the road narrows to two lanes beyond Washington Soares but still is one of the best in Ceara. It is well traveled and a beautiful drive.

Heading southwest toward Cascavel and Beberibe the road skirts along tropical jungles, fresh-water lagoons and open grasslands. At Beberibe, a left turn will take me to either Morro Branco or Praia dos Fontes, a resort beach area with a large hotel, a large pool area and a couple of good restaurants. Morro Branco, I think is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Ceara. The sands of the cliffs have been used to fill glass pottery with scenes of life in Ceara; lace weavers are along the trail between the top of the cliff and the beach below. A little village is at the top of the cliff with many little craft stores and open stalls for selling everything from lace to bikini covers.

My trip will take me to Morro Branco for a couple of hours then on to Praia dos Fontes where I will spend the day lying around the pool, watching the tourists and soaking in the sun. Food is done cafeteria style and the price depends on the weight; about thirteen cents for ten grams. If I choose, I can walk to one of the cabanas or continue down to the beach and enjoy the ocean. It’s a relaxing day filled with sun, sand and ocean breezes.

Around four the OceanView van will load up for the return trip to Fortaleza; by the time I get back to my apartment the sun will be in it’s final stage before night falls. Since Fortaleza is only three and a half degrees below the Equator, the sun comes up fast and goes down as quickly. By six-thirty the sun will be nothing but a memory and the evening stars will be out filling the sky. Clouds will be drifting on shore; possibly there will be rain around four the next morning. Beira Mar will be full of people and the evening will be starting.

Ah, another day in Fortaleza.


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