Sao Paulo is a cool, multi-national mega-city and I could easily have spent more time there… but it was time to move on. The flight to Fortaleza, in the state of Ceara, northeast of Brazil, wasn’t exactly cheap, but after five rainy weeks it was time for a warmer, less rainy place. Fortaleza is one of the biggest cities in Brazil, and the closest city to a beach called Jericoacoara (or Jeri), where I’ve wanted to go for years. My host William came to pick me up from the airport (cool!), and after a quick shower we went to eat some shrimps. We bought a kilo of fresh shrimps for about 13 reals (5 euros) and gave them to one of the local restaurants to fry. I don’t normally eat fried food…. But those shrimps were absolutely yummy!
Nope, the stuff next to the shrimps aren’t stale fries… they are fried “macachera” – better than fries 🙂 Next day we woke up and… guess what? It was raining heavily!!! Of about 300 days of sun in Fortaleza, I got there on their first rainy day for a while… And the following two days were identical. There was nothing else to do apart from giving up the idea of a swim, and trying to enjoy the rainy mornings. This was very easy, as Fortaleza has plenty of amazing markets, enough to keep a window-shopper occupied for days – and plenty of extremely cheap clothes that were really tempting 🙂 I could totally re-write the Fortaleza section of the “Rough guide to Brazil” guidebook with lots of information I picked up from William and Leo, another cool guy I met there. We spent long hours walking by the beach – there are two interesting statues of Iracema, the Brazilian girl that fell in love with a Portuguese conqueror. As Leo pointed out, no need to point out she’s Brazilian… she has a big butt 🙂
After the third rainy day in Fortaleza I decided to go to Jeri as soon as possible, and got my bus ticket. The last night was very nice, as William took me for some live music in a nice area of the city. We spent some time listening to music at home – like almost always, I wish I had more time to spend with my host – William is a clever, curious, focused guy and I was really happy I had time to show him how to make a healthy Greek salad! In Fortaleza I realised for the first time that Brazilian road signs are different from European signs, and also that Brazilian cars can also run on gas made of sugarcane. Last but not least I found out that many cars are manufactured in Brazil, under a European brand name – but the car models are different names. So, for example, over here they have Fiat Palio, and Volkswagen Gol!
Overall I really liked Fortaleza – I somehow felt that this city is more authentic than Rio and Sao Paulo, and I would easily go back. In a certain way, it was a quite familiar place… perhaps because some things really reminded me of Greece, like plastic chairs on the sand 🙂