Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fortaleza--my way point to the Amazon

The night bus got me into Fortaleza in the morning with a much more comfortable ride than my last one from Salvador to Recife. Once downtown it took e a while to find a breakfast place and I ended up settling for a bowl of chicken vegetable soup along with a bread bun stuffed with ham and cheese. I then made my way to the Cearna Backpackers Hostel that I had booked through Hostelworld and was also in the LP guide.

I met a few travelers there, one was a Phd student from Wisconsin who was going to be doing his sociology thesis on Brazilian tourism, another was an 18 woman from Vermont who had just finished three months as a WWOOFER at a farm north of Rio. The farm was developing some type of grasses from India that they planned to use here to combat erosion problems. You can learn more about the WWOOF organization by clicking on WWOOF.

Another interesting couple I met at this hostel were Leiv and Nets from Isreal who were traveling around South America for a few months. Both lived in kibbutzes and Leiv lived in the largest kibbutz near Haifa.

We all spent some time talking about our travel experiences and I think the sociologist was taking lots of mental notes on our collective experiences traveling around Brazil.

I am looking forward to my 5 day boat trip up the Amazon, so I probably did not do Fortaleza justice because all of its 375 miles of beaches in the surrounding area. These beaches vary from small little coves to expansive sandy beaches. Here is the beach that fronts the city area on a very windy day.

The hub of cultural and nightlife activities is at the Centro Dragao do Mar de Arte e Cultura where there is a concentration of museums, theaters, art galleries, and even a planetarium. There were many restaurants and nightclubs in and around this cultural center. I had a delicious seafood fettuccini dinner at the Cafe Creme which was recommended by the LP. It was filled with lobster, shrimp, scallops, and calamari, and the sauce was chuck full of terragon and fresh basil.


Function combined with art--painting of the disappearing walkway

Some of the restaurants at the Center
The Centro Mercado was filled with five levels of shops, mostly clothing. I alway wonder when I see these places where are all of the buyers and how can these vendors stay in business. outside this mercado are the street vendors that are selling the same kinds of goods, but hand held, laying on a blanket on the ground, on a small cart or even in the trunks of their cars.

This Faro band was performing just outside the mercado and I bought one of their CDs for 5 BRs.

It was then time for my marathon 28 hour bus ride to Belem. This time I got the front row #4 seat. Again, I am the only foreigner on the bus. This ride was a lot more comfortable except for the three hours of driving on on dirt and pothole roadway under construction. Since we were not going through any mountainous areas, the ride was fairly straight and smooth. Since there were fewer villages along the way, we did not go over that many topes.

For about six of these hours I was enveloped in a periodic cone of protection from a woman behind me who chanted prayers. She even went on for hours and even sometimes answering her own prayers in a higher pitch and faster voice. In the middle of the bus,when the woman was not chanting, a bunch of guys with a guitar began singing songs. Quite entertaining. We stopped for food along the way at the popular self service buffet restaurants where they weigh your plate of food and charge accordingly.

On to Belem and the mouth of the Amazon.


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