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, August 27, 2005

August 27, 2005

This will be my last BLOG from Fortaleza; I leave for Phoenix on Wednesday. What an adventure this has been! I am so appreciative to Norman Morrison for helping me put my pictures on the BLOG which allowed everyone to see some of the sights and get an idea of what life is like here. Fortaleza is such a beautiful city as is so much of the area around it that I‘ve wanted to share these things with everybody. I do have pictures again this week thanks to Norm. Again, you can copy and paste and then click on picture archives, then click on August 25, August 26, and August 27 to see the pictures.

This BLOG will cover my last two weeks here; I have been to all of the places except Canoa Quebrada before on this trip but will try to add some information as I go along.

First I went back to Lagoinha. I think it is my favorite beach to visit. Ocean View provided the transportation as usual; this time the tour guide was Edna, one of my original guides when I was here in 2001. It was wonderful to see her again and we spent a lot time talking about where our lives had gone in the past four years.

As I said before, one of the high lights is a series of trips which take you across the beach to a lake, across the lake into the tropical coastal forest and then back to the resort. During the trip this time I was partnered with five year old Fabio, his mother, Adriana and her mother, Regina from Sao Paulo. Fabio was a fun guy; I would have thought he might get scared during the buggy ride but he was ready to do it all over again, especially when we went down the big dunes. I think a smile must have been painted on his face the way he laughed and smiled. After we returned to the resort area we spent the afternoon eating, laying on the beach, swimming in the ocean or pool and generally having a good time. We returned to town at four in the afternoon.

A couple of days later my friend, Howard asked me if I wanted to go up the coast to look at some properties and stop at a friend of his posada; of course I jumped at the chance to get back out into the countryside. We drove to beautiful Paracaru; Howard had never been there so I showed him around the area. Paracaru is quickly becoming the wind surfing capitol of the Western Hemisphere. There are posadas that cater primarily to wind surfers. This time of the year the winds and currents are wonderful for riding the sea. (I wonder if I’ll take the sport up…why not?)

From there we drove back toward Fortaleza to Pecem, a hamlet thirty minutes west of Fortaleza. Several years ago a new seaport was built there where cargo is off and on loaded. We made a left turn at the “Y” and ended up at a beautiful posada on the beach three kilometers west of the port. It’s owned by a Swiss gentleman and has been kept immaculate. We spent the afternoon there and left around three to return home. This time we came into Fortaleza from the southwest instead of the usual route and I was able to see portions of the city that I hadn’t seen before.

Saturday, I went back to Morro Branco and Praia dos Fontes. I had been there several times before but this time instead of taking the Ocean View van through the town of Beberibe, I decided to ride from Morro Branco to Praia dos Fontes in a dune buggy. I was picked up at my apartment by Ocean View at eight thirty. My guide would be Sara again; she was my guide the first time I went to Lagoinha. After I got on the bus we headed out of the city to the beaches to the east.

We arrived at Morro Branco around nine, off loaded and began our tour. A young boy about sixteen lead us down the path through the cliffs and explained what we saw on the way. I paired up with Denilson and Cris, two doctors from Minas Gerais State. After we had reached the bottom of the cliff, we climbed into a dune buggy and went off across the beach. I had never done this before in Morro Branco so it was a new experience for me.

After running the beach for ten minutes we stopped at a cavern that went into the cliff about a hundred fifty feet. At the other end of the cavern was a natural spring that had “sweet water” (fresh water) coming out of the side of the cliff. This is where Praia dos Fontes got its name, Beach of the Springs. Driving a bit further we stopped at a large pipe which had water coming out of it. Our guide explained that it was the Brazilian Spring of Youth; if you stayed under the springs long enough you would become younger. I stayed under for ten minutes and all I got was wrinkled skin…I’m still an old guy…darn.

Later we arrived at a fresh-water lake for a break. There was a lake-side rest stop with drinks available and an area for swimming. Denilson and I stayed at the table and talked while Cris went into the water for a swim. She came out a few minutes later, saying that, while it was cold, it was very refreshing. From there we drove to a cliff where they were doing skibunder, a sport of riding a board down the sand cliffs. The first time you try it, it really is a thrill. We left there and drove to the resort.

The resort was much busier than when I had been there during the week. Ocean View had another bus load of people as well as ours there and several other tour agencies had arrived so the resort was nearly full. I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the pool, eating, drinking Guarana and watching beautiful women. Around two the resort put on its show, a comedian dressed as a woman who plays a game called “kissy-kissy”. The comedian selects six couples, puts them in chairs facing each other and talks for a while. Then they play some music and each woman tries to kiss as many men as she can before the music stops. After the women all run around it’s the men’s turn with all the women they can. It’s a lot of fun and everybody got kissed at least once. When the game was done, the band started again and two dance instructors began teaching people how to dance Forro, a local dance performed primarily in the Northeast of Brazil.

I took a walk along the beach around three and marveled at the beauty that surrounded me in Ceara. The water was warm and there were jangadas in the water, animals walking along the beach where sunbathers lay, soaking up the warmth of the rays; it was a beautiful day and I could feel a deepening love for this place. I returned to the resort and took the van back to Fortaleza.

Sunday, Andy, Thieny, Israel and I went to Prainha, a beach village eight kilometers east of Fortaleza. I didn’t know we were going there and unfortunately I didn’t take my camera with me. Prainha is a “poor man’s Beach Park” Andy explained. They have a fair sized water park with a slide and some other things but you can tell that it hasn’t been kept up like Beach Park in Fortaleza. This beach is a somewhere that locals go to; you don’t see the expensive bikinis or the fancy resorts there; the people look like the average Brazilian. The barracas are small, the food inexpensive and there aren’t a lot of hawkers selling their wares on the beach. We spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the sun, sand, breeze and ocean. In the background was the skyline of Fortaleza, just a stone’s throw away yet here, on this beach you were a million miles from the city.

Wednesday I made my last trip to an out-beach, this time to Canoa Quebrada. Canoa Quebrada is a district of Aracati where my friend, John lives. Unfortunately he was out of town so I was confined to the regular resort area. I had been there in October of last year when Andy, Thieny and I had stayed at Posada Lua Morena. It’s a nice restaurant/resort area.

Ocean View’s van was at my doorstep at exactly eight-forty, the time that I was told I would be picked up. Again my tour guide was Sara. The bus wasn’t crowed which meant that we had a chance to talk for a few minutes as we drove out to the Beach Park area. When we arrived, we picked up six people; Junior, Vivian, Sergio, Rosana, Menetod, and Sinara. Then we drove through the center of Prainha and on to Canoa Quebrada one hundred forty kilometers away.

After leaving the van, we mingled at the resort area. Sergio was wearing a Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley shirt and I tried to strike up a conversation with him but he didn’t speak English; however, Junior did. We were able to talk and exchange ideas. He said that as a boy he had studied football (soccer) under the great Pele; perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time. We talked a lot about sports and things in the United States as well as in Brazil.

Soon Sara said that the buggy ride was ready so we all loaded into two buggies and took off; Junior, Vivian, Menetod and Sinara were in one buggy and Sergio, Rosana and I were in the other. We zipped across the dunes for a while until we came to another skibunder dune with a little pond at the bottom. Junior and Menetod went down a couple of times while the rest of us watched.

From there we rode to a small oasis in the middle of the dunes. There was a small restaurant in front of a little pond, all inviting us to join in the fun. The girls took off their outer clothing so that they only had their bikinis on and we all went swimming for fifteen minutes. Because the water was shallow it was very warm. We returned to the dune buggy; it raced across the beach to drop us off at our resort.

We had been gone a couple of hours and were getting hungry. When we arrived back at the resort it took me no time to decide what I wanted, lagosta (lobster) sautéed in garlic sauce. We all ordered and talked and laughed while waiting for our food to arrive. When it came I was really surprised; I had salad, potatoes, rice, four lobsters, desert and two Guanaras for fourteen dollars and fifty-eight cents. I ate every bit of all of it.

When I had finished eating I took a stroll on the beach; it was a beautiful day and the water, sun and sand made for a great walk. I watched men trying to put a jangada into the water as well as pull two out, I saw a couple playing a Brazilian paddle-ball (I asked if I could take a picture but the man said to take it of his girlfriend only), I saw a woman getting makeup on the beach and met a young woman from Canoa Quebrada who falls into the category of one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. I asked to take a picture of her but she said I had to include her boyfriend, which I did. (The picture really doesn’t do any justice to her beauty.) Later, I took a picture of Vivian and Rosana. I marveled at Rosana’s beauty even though she was the mother of four children, all in their twenties. At four in the afternoon we returned to Fortaleza and a quiet life. What a wonderful time I had.

Four more days and I'll be on an airliner heading north to Phoenix and the United States. I've got mixed emotions about it. Some things were really good, others weren't as good as I had expected. But I guess that's the way life is, too, isn't it?

I did answer questions; I can live here and enjoy it a lot. Fortaleza is really just another big city; there are differences...the traffic, the language, some customs, the girls...however, it isn't really that different from Phoenix, San Jose or any other place with two and a half million people. The weather is a little better than some, the cost of living a little cheaper than any, the women are more plentiful but it's just another big city.

The one thing that really surprises me is that I find that I enjoy the beach so much. I feel like I really belong there though I don't seem to know why. I love riding the dunes, sitting near the ocean listening to it as it kisses the shore, seeing the palm trees and smelling the clean air. I always hated the beach in California; I would take one look at the ocean and think that once I'd seen it I was satisfied for a few years. Here I can't get enough of it; I love going and walking along it.

Who knows what my future holds; I still don’t have any answers to the direction my life is going to take; coming back here is probably where my heart is. For the last three and a half years my life has been up in the air and it probably won't change until I make up my mind which, not what I want. I keep trying to live in the moment but my Virgo personality won't let me. I move in today but my mind keeps asking "What's Next"?

I hope you have enjoyed my BLOG this week; it is the last one that I’ll be writing from Fortaleza. When I arrive back in the States I will write the final entry of this trip. I intend on keeping the BLOG active and will be ready to write the next chapter in this adventure. Please feel free to either send me an email or write something in the comments area of the BLOG. Remember, those famous words of the Great Arnold…



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