Fortaleza, Brazil



Fortaleza, a large city on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, is being marketed today as “the next Riviera” to people in the USA and elsewhere interested in international living and seeking to live abroad or to invest in a foreign 2nd home. Supposedly it has many wonderful beaches which serve as a primary attraction, although as we learned, almost all of these beaches are far from the city.  Fortaleza was a stop on our itinerary last year, but Kal missed it because of a bad attack of sciatica that kept him in bed while we were there. 

Fortaleza is known for its lace, especially its hand-made lace, much of which is sold in a huge multii-story crafts market located in downtown Fortaleza. Think of a Guggenheim Museum-type market where you can take an elevator to the top and then walk down 4 or 5 stories in a circular path until you reach the bottom floor and street level. In that respect it also resembles the large shopping facility in Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.

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Hundreds of merchants, each with his or her own booth/store, sell wares that range from clothing to lace products of many grades, typical tourist-type souvenirs, gourmet food, nut and liquor products, and on the lowest floor, incredible Brazilian buffets – all there for the trying.

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Kal’s problem is that he’s not a shopper, and he hates places like this and feels overwhelmed by these kinds of places. So he spent about 45 minutes here, walking from top to bottom on “the trail”, had a beer at the bottom – and walked out and into the rest of Fortaleza.

Nina, in the meantime, was escorting a tour that included a visit to this market, and she used this time to buy a hand-made lace tablecloth for our wonderful daughter-in-law.

Kal left the art market and walked over to the main cathedral of Fortaleza, supposedly the third-largest cathedral in Brazil.  He found it so conventional, plain and uninteresting that he didn’t even bother to take a single photograph.

Because Nina was escorting a tour today, Kal had been tasked by her to locate a pharmacy in Fortaleza and buy some Brazilian keratin treatments.  Well, as it happens these products are not sold in pharmacias or drugerias (still don’t know the difference between them) but rather in stores that sell cosmetics, diapers, hair products, etc. – not exactly the kinds of places Kal hangs out… He spent a lot of time trying to find the right stuff, and I’m glad to report he bought enough product to last about 5 years…….(not really, but can you hear Kal “kevetching” as he writes????)

From the cosmetics store Kal took a stroll down one of the side streets that specialized in hardware and found all kinds of kooky devices on offer, all of them useless to us, such as a potato peeler you hold between your knees, mate cups made from horses’ hooves, large hooks for attaching hammocks to the sides of Brazilian ferry boats, the hammocks themselves, HUGE bungee cords large enough to wrap around tree trunks, and numerous other gadgets of doubtful utility for us.  Unfortunately, he also did not photograph any of these things.  But along with the hardware shops were street vendors selling what appeared to be “natural” herbs, roots, medicines and bottled elixirs of all kinds, and those he did photograph.  Some of the more interesting offerings are below:

Some eucalyptus leaves and raw cinnamon bark, among other things

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See the raw loofas in the sack at the bottom of the photo?

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We had no idea what most of the items were, and no way to ask and find out…..

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Bottled stuff is always fun, but it could be anything from honey to hot sauce…..

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….. to hair products to hemorrhoid crème ….. who knew ?

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From here Kal went on a long walk to locate an art museum and outdoor park with street artists, but the maps he was given were very unclear, and in spite of his generally excellent navigation skills, he was unable to find either, and in frustration, having despaired of finding more good photo subjects on his walk through some of the  grimier parts of Fortaleza, decided to return to crafts market, grab a shuttle bus and return to the ship.  This was not one of Kal’s favorite cities, to be kind……

Oh well …. tomorrow is another day…..

I (Nina) on the other hand was escorting an excursion and we went to the cathedral (completed in 1974) and the theater, which was interesting, but because last year Fortaleza was scary as can be, Kal took the small camera and I left the good one aboard the ship, so no pix. Sorry.



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