Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fortaleza recap

So, in my last Fortaleza entry I talked about creepy massages, tourist trap restaurants, sketchy bars, and beautiful beaches. There were a few more things that bear mentioning, as well. Get ready.

V, S and I decided to rent a car for two days. We drove out to a beach called Cumbuco that is well-known for its huge white sand-dunes. Unfortunately, we chose a day when it was pissing rain to go see these dunes, so we ended up soaked, covered in sand, and shivering in the car on the way back to Fortaleza. The dunes were cool, though; I felt like we were in some sort of weird desert -- a desert bordering the ocean. The next day, after V left for the airport, S and I took the car to some surrounding villages inland from Fortaleza. We went to a town called Pacatuba, which seemed almost deserted. We went to a little bakery and ordered two cafés com leite, which turned out to be a lot of milk, a little coffee, and enough sugar to make your teeth hurt. We strolled around the town with our treacle-coffee and looked at the sights.

There was a big, beautiful colonial church that was a bit fraying at the edges, bordered by the "Passion Plaza," (Praça de Paixão) which I of course assumed was some kind of illicit make-out point, but then read later that it's used to re-enact the Passion of Christ every Lent. Oh. We also stumbled upon some mango and almond trees, took some pictures, then decided to move on when we started getting eaten alive by mosquitos. We drove through another small town, Itaitinga, which seemed a bit more lively than the other one, then headed back to Fortaleza as it got dark.

That night, we went to a yummy restaurant across the street from the beach, ended up going through two bottles of Chilean cabernet, and, inspired by the GREAT music the restaurant was playing, felt the pressing need to do karaoke. We asked our waiter about the karaoke possibilities in Fortaleza, and he told us without missing a beat where to go. Once our taxi dropped us off at Sketch Central, Fortaleza, however, and we had asked a few non-hookers about karaoke bars in the immediate area, we realized our waiter had led us astray. He looked so trustworthy, too.

Luckily, there was a giant warehouse club called Armazem right in front of us, so we went in, paid about US $6 each, passed through the metal detectors, and found ourselves in the middle of a pretty legitimate club. Inside, there was a big dance floor, a stage with a band and dancers, two bars, and fake waterfalls and drawbridges galore. Off to the side, through double doors, there was another dance floor playing techno -- GOOD techno, too. The night turned out to be crazily fun, and Suraj even caught a free CD that the band was tossing out to the crowd. The music was forró -- not exactly my cup of tea -- but still, free CD!

The next day we wanted to make the most of our remaining hours of car rental, but to our dismay, S had left the lights on and killed the battery. After an unsuccessful attempt to get a jump -- apparently only one man in Fortaleza has jumper cables, and he was not around that day -- we threw in the towel and went back to Praia do Futuro, which is when the Massage Incident occurred. After trying to remove the oil from our pores, we went to lunch, then back to the market, where I bought my 3rd bikini. After resting up a while, we went to dinner -- back to the same restaurant -- at around 10, in a bid to stay out till we had to go to the airport at 5. I didn't think I was going to make it, but somehow, a couple bottles of wine helped infuse me with that extra burst of energy.

Taking the advice of a crazy cab driver we had had earlier that day who had enthusiastically recommended a beach party at Praia do Futuro called "Lounge Beach," we got in a cab and headed there, only to find that Lounge Beach was definitely closed. Can NO one in Fortaleza be trusted? We should have known that cab driver was a little nutty when he pointed out beach huts where people had been bludgeoned to death as we passed them. Still, though.

We ended up at Croco Beach, which was a big barraca (beach hut) with a live samba band and bar. The crowd at Croco Beach was a little old, a little creepy, a little lacking in teeth in some cases, but the night was still fun. We ended up sitting outside on the beach and relaxing until about 4, when we headed back to the hotel, laid down for what felt like 3 seconds, then had to get up again and go to the airport....

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