Ana reporting from Fortaleza, Brazil
Fortaleza, Brazil is a medley of culture and beauty, from natural resources, man-made creations and a variety of people living together and keeping their traditions vibrantly alive. This relatively small space in the world is a dream. It is located in the North East of Brazil, just 3 degrees South of the Equator. We see the sun 350 days a year and during the hottest days of Summer there’s a characteristic breeze that unmistakably lets you know you’re in Fortaleza.
My family and I have been living in Brazil for the past 3 years and it has changed our lives. There are many things told about Brazil, some true, some not so true, but there's one I fully agree with and it is that Brazil is paradise. Yes it is! Whether you are here with the sole expectation of travel or you are planning to settle down, Brazil will offer you the best and more often than not, it will change you.
Before I came to live in beautiful Brazil I had only spent holidays at the beach and there was that sense of detachment in me that knew it would be lovely to stay yet I had a home to go back to. After living here for 3 years the though alone of leaving for a short break makes my heart ache, there's an incredible sense of freedom that comes from looking at the sea everyday and even when you don't you know it's there. This is the same view Brazilians have - to them the sea plays such a key part of their lives and that's the reason why they fully embrace it and transform places like this into home to welcome those who have yet to understand their love for the sea.
Fortaleza, Ceara is blessed with some of the most incredible and beautiful beaches of Brazil - with rocky formations, sand dunes, tropical climates and sea life that make for a perfect combination so that this land has something for everyone. Our little family of 3 have set our minds on discovering those little places that piece together different cultures, ways of doing things and well... food.
Our last trip was to Jericoacoara which I would describe as the land of wind, sand and stunning - almost to the point of shocking - natural beauty. This place offers a night life both to those without children… and those like us who take their toddlers on adventures. We stayed there for a whole week, climbing up sand dunes, swimming in lagoons and walking along the sea shore experiencing breath-taking sunsets. We toured, we rested and we ate.
As you'd imagine such a beautiful place has also fun and adrenaline to offer. This in the form of activities such as kite surfing, paragliding, sand-boarding, buggy tours and other recreation - and even when they are packed with thrilling emotion they are still a reflection of the peace and the quiet that pervades this place.
At sunset all the tourists AND locals climb up the sand dunes in a mesmerizing procession - an unspoken pilgrimage - and enjoy the beautiful spectacle of the sun setting behind the ocean. People take quiet times, some meditate, some pray and some simply embrace it not saying a word. Even though we all express it differently there's one feeling we have in common at that time. Gratefulness.
After that beautiful display of color and magnificent peace we walk down the sand dune and are greeted by another show. This time in the hands - or should I say feet - of a beautiful show of Capoeira - a traditional dance and form of expression in Brazil. After all that quiet this is greatly welcome - the sound of the typical traditional instruments originating from the state of Bahia - the men and women contorting their bodies in a mock display of martial arts turned yoga, following the rhythm of the song and the sound of all our hands clapping to the beat.
Jericoacoara, as every other part of Brazil, has an influence of German, Italian and Dutch cuisine and it is patent all over the North East, the combination of hearty stews, spices and the added foreign concoctions made our experience there memorable not only to our eyes but also to our palettes.
Activities that we often take for granted like a walk, a drive around the neighborhood or a simple dinner out became glorious times to us when we were there. The entire town is set on the sea shore, everywhere you go even inside some shops you will be greeted by a thick carpet of fine sand, you can walk all over the town barefooted. Shopping for souvenirs, eating at a bistro and while doing the most simple and routine tasks you will feel out at the beach. The smell of sea salt in the air and all the restaurants around you brewing their best ingredients, it all comes together and makes you want to stay.
I would describe the look of the town as rustic-meets-modern. Most of the places are decorated in a classic Brazilian way, touches of vintage can be seen all over the town but at the same time they are concerned with providing all the modern comforts we usually need in our lives.
The town has the feeling of being organic, the intrinsic beauty of the place is taken care of to the point of which only a certain amount of houses or hotels can be built and only under the most supervised and special situations. The hotels plan and build around what that piece of land offers, carefully placing their local beauty all around it. For that reason, birds, goats, horses and other types of animals can be seen, comfortably making their way through the town.
We stayed at 3 different hotels while we were there and we can tell by experience now that from the basic to the most expensive resorts the way you are greeted and treated is the same. There's a high value on new-comers and they will go out of their way to help you build that experience you are looking for.
I wish I could say my images come even close to portraying all that Fortaleza and the surrounds have to offer but the honest truth is that they don't. It is not only the natural beauty that's all around, it is also the people and the small yet rewarding experiences that create that sense of living a dream-filled life. My most memorable times here have been created by a mixture of the beauty and the culture, a simple walk down the promenade after a hot day, a taste of local cuisine in the streets, a chat, a smile or a gelato while enjoying a colorful sunset. Those are the moments I treasure the most.