Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil - February 2004

Sometimes, when a special opportunity comes up to go somewhere new, you just have to take it. So when I had a chance to go to Brazil for a week, I jumped on it.

Praia de Iracema from Flor's balcony What a great decision! Brazil is everything you have heard: the people are wonderful, the women are beautiful, the food is excellent (especially the seafood!), the beaches are fantastic, the water was warm....except for the fact that it was rainy season, which meant periodic 10-minute downpours, the weather was great. I had a fantastic time and would love to go back.

Unfortunately, I didn't take as many pictures as I had hoped to. And worse, I never found any slide film, which was really disappointing. But fortunately, some of the pictures I did take turned out awesome. It's a beautiful country, and quite photogenic. Next time I'll get more shots.

Aerial view of Sao Paulo Flying into Sao Paulo's Guarulhos Airport, which is well outside of the city center, it is easy to see the scale of the city: 17 million people, South America's largest metropolitan area, and the hub of the continent's commerce. From the air it looks somewhat like Los Angeles; many relatively equal-sized buildings with occasional outcroppings of taller skyscrapers. And it's spread out far like LA, too.

The airport at Sao Paulo counts as my farthest point south on the globe; Sao Paulo sits on the Tropic of Capricorn. Since it was daytime during my flight in, and cloudy on my flight out, I never had the opportunity to see the night sky from this latitude. Which is really too bad, because I would love to have seen the south celestial pole.

Fortaleza, looking east from Dragao do Mar Fortaleza, on the other hand, is a city of 2 million people, at 6 degrees south latitude, right on the coast. It's fairly large, certainly bigger than poor old Hartford (where I live now) but not quite as big as Boston. We stayed in the Praia de Iracema area, on Rua Dragao Do Mar. Praia de Iracema is one of the hot spots for nightlife; there are four or five blocks of nothing but bars, clubs, and restaurants. And they're all open as late as they want to be - which is usually sometime around sunrise.

Me, Jim, and Flor on the back of the dune buggy But the real adventure - and the point of having the pictures here - was our trip down the Ceara coast. We took a dune buggy onto the beach from Fortaleza all the way out to Morro Branco, which is about 50 miles. My behind was sore for three days after, and the sunburn I got took a week to peel off.

The point of the trip was to go see these sand formations on the coast where the sands have different colors, as you can see following. But on the way we got stuck in a downpour, which was just murderous, and the ride back on the highway was pretty hairy, since dune buggies really aren't made for travel on pavemement - though it was great on the sand.

The pictures following are from random points along the way, and really they're all self-explanatory. You can see the dune buggy we rode in, and there are pictures of a 4X4 going through the same crossings we went through, to give you an idea of what the ride was like. The 4X4 contained some South African friends of my Brazilian hosts who were also visiting, and added to the atmosphere of this being quite the international trip.

The dune buggy that took us to the sands of Ceara
At the end of the list of photos you will find a number of shots from among the sands themselves. And you will see a shot of our whole group having lunch somewhere in there (without me, of course, since I was behind the F100. In all of Brazil I only got one picture of me). I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Fortaleza at night

The highway leaving Fortaleza, on our way to the beach in the dune buggy

Suddenly, it started to rain.  HARD.  And the guy's windshield wipers didn't work.  This was not the highlight of the trip.

A lagoon we passed on the way to the beach.  The rain was still sprinkling at this point.

Another dune buggy doing the same thing we were.  Notice the multiple tracks in the sand from all the vehicles driving around.

It wouldn't be Brazil if there wasn't a soccer game.  Even on the beach, you see pairs of sticks serving as goals all over the place.  It is clearly their passion, old and young, men and women.

Two boys riding their horses on the beach

Deep water crossing.  Mark made it through no problem, but when we went through with the buggy it got stuck and Jim and I had to get out and push.

Where the water is too deep to cross, there are little boats set up to ferry vehicles across the water.  It cost $1.75 for the service, and takes about 5 minutes per vehicle.

At one point the water crossing was closed, so we had to go over land.  This is one of the many towns on the Ceara coastal highway.  I have no idea which one it is.

Lunchtime in Morro Branco.  Our driver is the guy in the blue shirt; the South Africans are all on the left side of the table.

A view of Morro Branco from atop the hill that leads to the sands.  Notice that the webpage background is a postcard of this view.  You decide which is the better shot!

One of the first views of the sands.  Sort of a mini Bryce canyon.  Sort of.

Walking through the canyon bottom.  That's water flowing through the center.

More sand!

One of the better-defined erosion structures.  Note the layer of different colored sands.

I think I'd have to call this one of my better shots.  The color of the ocean is amazing, and contrasts well with the sands, no?

Looking back after leaving the sands at the beach and the cliffs.

And, well, that was it. I was only there for four days, but so much happened. And there were a lot of things I couldn't take pictures of, because they happened at night. Plus it was rainy season, so these sudden torrential downpours kind of discouraged me from taking my camera out all the time. But I got a lot of great shots and had lots of great experiences, and that's really what vacations are all about. So this one was great!

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