As some who follow my blog shall know; I have just returned from a short trip out to the northeast of Brazil. I spent the week in the major city of Fortaleza and traveled back to Canoa Quebrada which is on the southern end of the state.
When I visit, I am surprised at the lack of tourists from the United States. There are lots of tourists in Ceara but mainly they are from Europe and the south of Brazil. So I am often the odd ball when I visit a restaurant or the mall in Ceara and people probably assume that I am from Europe when they first see me. But when they find out I am from the United States it seems that I go from average to celebrity.
North or South?
Ceara has many faces. The big sprawling cities such as Fortaleza, farms nestled amongst arid landscapes, and sleepy beach towns with mountainous sand dunes. All things that make Ceara a place to visit.
In Rio, I used to enjoy my long stroll from the apartment down past Posto 5 and around the corner past the surf shops to Arpoador. The surf in Rio is top-notch and the city surf spots in Fortaleza can not really measure up. However, on my stroll; I always was one person in a sea of many. I was swallowed by the groups of people either jogging or walking down the famous sidewalk to my destination. A face in the crowd.
On the beach at Fortaleza, it is different and more of a contrast. To the south end into Beira Mar, it varies between barracas (beachside cafes) to the nightly bustle of vendors and sales people. As you head north into Iracema, the mood changes. Local families sit on the wall and talk with neighbors. People jog by with dogs leading the way. Skateboarders run the slalom course of human cones. The plus to this area is interaction and this is missed in Rio. Everyone seems to run into someone they know and small groups gather to catch up about their lives.
This is one of the major things that I love about Brazil. Despite the hardships and the crime, the residents are friendly and enjoy something that is lacking in other countries. Sadly, in my neighborhood, I would be hard pressed to even give you a name of any of my neighbors that live 4 houses away. In Fortaleza, once they sun begins to set; the plastic chairs and tables come out and groups of neighbors set up shop on the sidewalk in front of their houses. There they drink beer, tell stories, debate, and catch up on life.
If we are speaking about Brazil then we must speak about food. Portion control goes out the window. I almost shuddered when my fiancé told me, “We have to eat ALL of this food! Eat some more!” This was at the time when the others in our group had waved the white flag after feasting on a pile of steak, sausage, chicken, rice, and farofa.
I do not know how my vegan friends would survive here!
If you have an interest in Brazil, check out some of my earlier posts about visiting Canoa Quebrada and other cities in Ceara.
This post will get you started in the right direction as well as the others in the series: