Day 50 of 68 – Fortaleza, Brazil

February 22, 2018 Paul Groves

Fortaleza is a typical large South American city with two main areas: beach and historic. Our city bus tours usually have three parts: a drive by of the beaches, a visit to one or more historic sites/churches, and, a shopping location. Today’s tour was just a little different in that we started with the shopping.

We drove to the “Mercado Central” which is a huge 4-story shopping arcade. Each floor has about 25 vendor stalls. After a few minutes it’s pretty apparent that there’s only about 5 different types of stalls: cashew salesmen (its a big export here), household wares (tablecloths, runners, etc), women’s blouses & bikinis, shoes & handbags, and, souvenirs. In this case it pays to walk around before you buy as you often see the same item cheaper in another stall. We spent an hour here before we moved on.

Our next stop was the “Metropolitan Cathedral Of St. Joseph” (in Portuguese São José). While the exterior appears Gothic, the interior is not what you would expect. It is a very simple and clean interior with terrific stained glass windows. It was started in 1938 on the site of the old church, inaugurated in 1978, and can seat up to 5,000 people.

Our final stop was at “Theatro José de Alencar”. The front facade of the theater gives you no hint of what awaits you. You walk through the doorway and there it is: a beautiful gem of a theater in the art nouveau style! The theater can seat up to 840 people. Cast iron details of the theater were made and imported from Scotland. The theater was opened in June, 1910. The theater is named after José Alencar considered to be one of the most famous and influential Brazilian Romantic novelists of the 19th century.

After 1/2 hour, we returned to the ship.

As a final thought, this is the third region of Brazil that we’ve visited and the people are ethnically very different in descent from those in Rio which are primarily Portuguese and those in Bahia which are primarily a mixture of Portuguese and African. Here we see the mix of Portuguese and the indigenous peoples of Brazil and the people are usually shorter and have more slant to their eyes.