I am on a very short internet leash here so my entries on Fortaleza will have to be short and sweet. First installment, here goes!
Suraj, Viral and I transferred from the Atalaia hostel to a hotel called Maredomus, about a block away. It's great, we have cable, air conditioning, and 3 twin beds. We keep severely improving our predicament.
The first two nights in Fortaleza, we checked out the "lively" nightlife centered near our hotel, which basically consists of a street with lots of bars and restaurants with people trying to get you to come in, shoving menus in your face, offering you free drinks, etc. It was all very Suecia -- the cheesiest street in Santiago with river-boat/Australian outback/wild west themed bars filled with kind of suspect looking people. Same idea. We ate at tourist trap restaurants right on the sea, drank lots of Malbec, and ate seafood. After midnight the seediness factor in the neighborhood goes up considerably and a lot of prostitutes/people that could pass for prostitutes/people seeking prostitutes come out in droves. Kind of gross, but what can you do.
During the day, we went to the Mercado Central, which is 4 floors of trinket/handicraft MADNESS. I bought 3 bikinis for about US $5 each, and S and V stocked up on blankets, clothes, Havianas, and, yes, the obligatory Brazil-flag sungas. After shopping we ventured to Praia do Futuro, a beach at the eastern end of town lined with barracas (palapas selling food, drink, etc.). We had a leisurely lunch, admired the breathtaking beach, then it started to pour, so we packed up.
Today S and I went back to Praia do Futuro, where S suggested we get massages. The massages, administered by a gold-toothed gal named Olga and her surly assistant, turned out to be rub-downs with creepy oils that smelled like floor polish. These two ladies made sure every inch of exposed skin on our bodies was thoroughly saturated with oil, including our faces, hair, ears, other assorted crevices. Suraj and I were giggling like idiots throughout the entire ordeal, and we COULD NOT STOP. The last straw for me was when the surly assistant tried -- unsuccessfully, thank God -- to remove my bikini top. I was thinking, Okay, so here I am, greased up like a pig on Christmas, lying on a skeevy table on the middle of a beach, being rubbed down by a lady with gold teeth, and now I am going to be topless on top of everything else. That I just could not abide. Mercifully, the "massagem relaxante" ended after an hour -- longest hour of my life -- and S and I escaped back to our hotel to scrub the oil off our our faces.