Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2000 1:40 PM
Subject: April 4-7, 2000: Fortaleza I
Monday, April 24, 2000...in Recife, Brazil...typing on Luciana's computer...smile...some of my friends think I'll stay in Recife, Brazil forever...not so sure that would be a terrible idea...Luciana is warming up to the idea of being a Sugar-Mamma...smile...
Alas...I think I am leaving Recife and going to Fortaleza tomorrow (I think...), then Belem, and Manus.
Doug Quote: "Travelling is more a state of mind than a state of location."
April 4, 2000 (Tue):
Arrived into Fortaleza around 10am off the bus from Recife. I had not gotten much sleep on the bus...and needless to say, many of my thoughts were of Luciana as I traveled into Fortaleza...but as I have said...the show must go on...I was sure that I would see Luciana again in the future...but for now, I must continue my travels...
Now you may not have heard of Fortaleza, Brazil...but I had heard of this city for the past 3 years...and was eager to visit it and stay in my friend Claudia's apartment...where the people speak almost no English...forcing me to speak Portuguese. OK, let me give you some history...hmmm...history is often useful in understanding the reasons for present-day events (I guess I sound a little like a certain history professor relative of mine...but don't tell Grandpoppie that...OK?)...anyway, I met Claudia in San Francisco...she was my girlfriend for quite awhile...but now, we are just friends (she still lives in San Francisco). Anyway, her mother and sister (and lots of cousins, aunts, uncles...etc) live in Fortaleza. I had asked (and Claudia offered) if it would be possible to visit with them in Fortaleza during my travels...
...so here I am...having arrived in Fortaleza 3 years after dating Claudia, I take a taxi to my ex-girlfriend's apartment to stay with her mother and sister who speak almost no English! I am truly looking forward to this experience...hoping it will provide me the opportunity of forced comprehension of Portuguese. Unfortunately, when I have been with my other Brazilian friends (Luciana, Ana Paula, Juliano, Juliana, Iara, Mickey, etc...) they have almost always talked with me in English (both because it is easier for me...and to help them learn)...so I haven't been forced to speak Portuguese for hour after hour...Fortaleza is a different story!
I arrived...and Claudia's mother (Tereza) met me at the door with a big smile and hug...and shortly behind her was Claudia's sister (Tereza Cristina). We chatted for awhile to get to know eachother. They are very nice...and immediately began to fill me with food...ahhhh...I love Brazilian Customs! Not wanting to offend, I tried my best to eat everything they offered me...including fried bananas with cinnamon (I absolutely love fried bananas...they were astonished to see how much!) but alas, it simply was not possible to eat everything...and eventually I reluctlantly had to refuse their polite offers to give me more food. (Funny Note: At one point Tereza asked if I wanted a candy...I politely declined...but she wanted to show me...and lo and behold...Claudia had given her some of my much-beloved AA Cargo Candies with my name and former work phone number on them! Now, you can imagine how surprised I was to find about 20 of these candies in Brazil! (HISTORY for those non-AA Cargo employees - As a sales rep at AA Cargo...I received various promotional items to give to customers. Notably one of the most useless was 3 boxes full of individually wrapped peppermint candies with the AA Cargo Logo, My Name, and Phone Number on every
wrapper...literally thousands of these candies...quite a useless sales device if you ask me (which by the way, they never did...every sales rep in the system received these candies...and as far as I know, they were very
popular with everyone in being given to friends and family...but did not seem appropriate to hand to customers...). Quite often the best of intentions end up with little in the way of results...no doubt these candies are a testament to this. But, nevertheless, I found it amusing that they had made their way to Brazil!
Met cousin Guillerme at the apartment when he dropped in (the first of many relatives I would meet in the upcoming week or so in Fortaleza...many of who's names I have forgotten due to the small size of my brain...but please note that all were very friendly and warm with me...I will never forget them...even if I can't say the same about their names) for a little while. Cristina, Guillerme and I went out that night...Guillerme was a wonderful guide (he is a lawyer and is a good speaker) and knew quite a bit about the history and sights of Fortaleza. We saw the Cathedral (which is patterned after Notre Dame), old parts of the city, Theatro Alencar, and the Centro por Arte e Cultura. Later, we had dinner at a fish place...had peixe delicia (fish cooked with bananas!) which was great, wonderful, incredible, and delicious rolled into one. I learned that all dishes in Brazil cooked in the delicia form will have bananas in them...hmmm...you can bet that I will use this knowledge in the future! Finally, we headed back to the
apartment...got to bed around midnight.
April 5, 2000 (Wed):
Woke...had breakfast...lots of Fried Bananas! ...as I have mentioned, they have discovered that I like fried bananas (alot) and I think they are planning to prepare them for me as long as I remain in the house (which is fine with me!)...mmmmm.
Cristina offers to take me to visit her grandmother and then to drop me off at a museum while she goes to work for awhile. I am sure this is a good idea...will allow me to explore the town some...so I agree. It is only as we head down to the car does she tell me that she is just now learning how to drive...at the age of 32! OK...so we get in the car...and needless to say, I strap myself in! Unfortunately for most South Americas who learn to drive...almost all cars here are standard transmission...so they must learn steering, shifting, clutching, and driving all at once! (I learned on an
automatic...then later learned to drive standard transmissions...I think this is easier.) Anyway...as you would expect, we did some abrupt starts and stops...but nothing too major...and were on our way.
We spend a little time with her grandmother, aunts and uncles. They were very nice and were happy to hear that I was a friend of Claudia's from the USA. We then headed off to the museum. While on one of the streets, we
somehow got in the middle of a Poupa Ganha parade! Let me explain...Poupa Ganha is the National Lottery of Brazil...they use bright yellow colors on all advertising...and unlike in the USA, they are not bashful about
attracting attention. This was a parade of 2 big bright YELLOW Trio Electrico type trucks (lots of loud music and announcements to play the lottery) at the front and back of the parade (yes, the trucks are complete with Samba dancing girls in small tops and skirts on the top...this is the official Government Lottery...gotta love this country!) with about 10 new cars driving between the trucks with their flashers on. These 10 new cars are obviously prizes that can be won if one plays the lottery. Well...anyway this circus is driving around the streets of Fortaleza...trying to attract attention with the music, girls, cars, and announcements. ...and we had turned into the street and ended up between the trucks and in the middle of the prize cars...which would have been fine...but then as we started
forward, the car stalled!
Well, needless to say, Cristina is a little flustered anyway when the car stalls (due to releasing the clutch too fast and not enough gas...we have all done it in the early stages of driving...and this was Cristina's turn)...and being surrounded by prize cars, dancing girls, and loud music didn't help her one bit! So there we are, stalled...and she can't hear the engine well enough to know if it is on or off...so we end up sitting there for 1-2 minutes (which ofcourse seem like years when you are stalled infront of a bright yellow, Poupa Ganha truck with loud music and cute dancing girls waiting for your car to move so they can catch up with the front part of the parade...)...for me it was funny, I certainly was in no rush...for Cristina, I am sure it was not nearly as funny. I did not laugh, and I tried to help...but you know how it goes...it just took some time, and we eventually got moving...but it was not one of Cristina's happiest moments of the day...but later, we would laugh about it.
She finally dropped me off infront of the museum and waved goodbye...I walked around a somewhat unimpressive exhibit...then headed to the oceanfront. It was more interesting...Fortaleza has some nice beaches...some nice oceanfront sculptures and piers.
I walked along for awhile...visited the Center for Art and Culture, Mercado Central, and the Cathedral. The Cathedral was very impressive. Patterned after the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, it is decidely less gothic and
less ornate...at first glance. But this lack of ornamentation yields to the spectacular stained-glass windows that the Cathedral posses. It is simply stunning to enter this church...to see the bare, slightly off white walls, and to be amazed by the colors flowing into the church through these amazing windows. Ofcourse they display amazing scenes of the Virgin, Jesus, various Popes, and the Apostles...this church is very short on anything that would
detract from the simple elegance of these windows. It is one of my favorite churches now...not trying to be overly ornate and burdeoned with too many distracting things...it seems to simply want to display it's windows...one
could say that it is a church completely dedicated to it's visitors "Seeing the Light"...and not being distracted by other things that are of this world...I like this idea. Also, all the doors to the entire Cathedral were open. This is probably due to the high temperatures in Fortaleza and the desire to keep the Cathedral as cool as possible...but it also gives a most welcoming effect...imparting the idea that the doors to the house of God are open to all...and that everyone is welcome. Again, this is one of my favorite churches I have ever visited...for very simple reasons.
Continued to walk around...got somewhat philosophic at one point and wrote down the following questions in my journal...I figure if it occurs to me, it may be of interest to someoneelse:
- Why is the ozone hole expanding? I believe that the ozone is being broken down by Hydro-flourocarbons (sp?)...but is that true...or is it just being pushed aside? If the ozone is actually deteriorating (quantities being reduced) why can't science find a way to replace it?
- Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have the idea that Ozone is basically the same as smog...good at high levels in the atmosphere, but bad when trapped low to the ground (as in Los Angeles). If this is true (and I am not certain it is...)...can we find a way to create a pipeline that moves this smog from the ground to the upper atmosphere? A huge pipeline skyward? Is this practical? Would it be the equivalent of trying to drain the ocean by yourself with a bucket?
- Needless to say, I don't think that the answers to these questions are very simple...otherwise some scientist far smarter than I would have done it already...but nevertheless, I have these questions...anyone have the answers??? Thanks...
Returned to the apartment. Had hot dogs for dinner at the apartment. Then were joined by Cristina's friend and neighbor, Adriana, and the three of us went to walk along the beach promenade. There were many things going on...ofcourse lots of markets to buy stuff, volleyball games being played (sniff sniff), and tours being offered to various places. We wandered around for awhile...and then sat down at one of the cafe's that overlooked the
ocean and enjoyed a cold coconut and talked for awhile...all in Portuguese! I think my Portuguese is getting better...I know I am forced to speak it much more here in Fortaleza than anywhere else I have been on my trip...I
Finally left and returned to the apartments...crashed.
April 6, 2000 (Thur):
Happily did very little today! I had breakfast, and lunch at the apartment...and read lots of Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I was absolutely enthralled by the book! I finally finished the book around 4pm...and immediately decided that I must reread the book to learn more! (Although, I think I will reread it a little later...maybe during a 6 day
boat ride on the Amazon or something.)
MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION for Sophie's World! I absolutely enjoyed this book...probably more than any other book on my travels...and I have been reading lots of books. It is both an interesting story, but the way it is written it fascinating...in the context of the story, you are taught many of the premises of philosophy and learn about many of the greatest thinkers the
world has ever known. It was also nice to read immediately after completing Gore Vidal's Creation, which talks about much of the philosophers in Ancient Greece, Rome, India, and China. The book also references a great many things that I am interested in...Darwin (which I have a copy of The Origin of Species...which I can't wait to read!), creation (I have Sagan's Cosmos and Hawking's-Time), and lots of other cool things! There are an amazing number of quotes in Sophie's World, both philosophic and otherwise...and each person should read it to get their favorites...but here are mine:
"Cognito, ergo sum." Descartes' famous line...I think therefore I am.
"According to Spinoza, this tree is free. It has its full freedom to develop its inherent abilities. But if it is an apple tree it will not have the ability to bear pears or plums. The same applies to us humans. We can be hindered in our development and our personal growth by political conditions, for instance. Outer Circumstances can constrain us. Only when we are free to develop our innate abilities can we live as free beings. But we are just as much determined by inner potential and outer opportunities as the Stone Age boy on the Rhine, the lion in Africa, or the apple tree in the garden." --- Doug Note: I like this quote because I may not be the smartest or most able person in the world...and I can't change that. But, I can attempt to reach the maximum of my potential...which right now is unknown...but by taking this trip, I am hoping that I am utilizing my full freedom to develop my inherent abilities to their fullest extent possible within the conditions I live in...we'll see...I guess time will tell, eh?
"With Kant,"..."one of his most quoted sayings is carved on his gravestone in Konigsberg: 'Two things fill my mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the reflection dwells on them: the
starry heavens above me and the moral law within me'. " --- Doug Note: I am finding the same...doubt I will find many answers...but as I travel, I am becoming more and more in awe of the human spirit and in the heavens (both spiritual and what is in the universe around us).
"it was once said that 'idleness is the ideal of genius, and indolence the virtue of the Romantic.' It was the duty of the Romantic to experience life-or to dream himself away from it. Day-to-day business could be taken care of by the philistines." --- Doug Note: Ahhh...I am enjoying my attempts at being a Romantic right now...
"Darwin was a cautious man. He posed questions long before he ventured to answer them. In that sense he used the same method as all true philosophers: It is important to ask but there is no haste to provide the answer." --- Doug Note: I love this...better to ask questions than to rush to answers!
"Research shows that we dream for about twenty percent of our sleeping hours, that is between one and two hours each night. If we are disturbed during our dream phases we become nervous and irritable. This means nothing
less than that everybody has an innate need to give artistic expression to his or her existential situation. After all, it is ourselves that our dreams are about. We are the directors, we set up the scenario and play all the roles. A person who says he doesn't understand art doesn't know himself very well."
"Maybe the imagination creates what is new, but the imagination does not make the acutal selection. The imagination does not 'compose'. A composition - and every work of art is one - is created in a wonderous interplay between imagination and reason, or between mind and reflection. For there will always be an element of chance in the creative process. You have to turn the sheep loose before you can start to herd them." --- Doug Note: I love the
Please, read Sophie's World for yourself...you will be rewarded for your time.
OK...moving on, I then went to use the internet. I called Luciana and told her that I was going to go to use the internet. It was wonderful to talk to her. I went to the internet place (only 3 Reals per hour!) and setup an ICQ
account. I then contacted Luciana...and we chatted for 2 hours. It was wonderful to be able to communicate with her instantly...and quite a good learning tool...I tried to type/chat with her in Portuguese...and when I made mistakes, she would immediately correct them. I highly recommend this as a way for my friends to learn how to write a language...find a friend who is fluent in that language...then have computer chats with them in that language...I promise, your spelling, writing, and understanding of the language will improve rapidly. It was great to feel closer to her than geography would allow right now...sometimes technology brings us closer together...rather than farther apart, I guess...
Anyway, I returned to the apartment...Cristina and I rallied and headed out again...tonight for Caranguejo! As you may recall, Caranguejo is crab...and it is wonderful, cheap and messy here in Brazil. I got to meet Cristina's
boyfriend, Marcos, who is a cool guy and a lawyer...hmmmm...a good catch, eh? We went and met Cristina's cousins (Danielle and Guillerme) and one of Danielle's friends (name???...sorry).
We went to a beach called Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future...cool, eh?)...but it kinda looked like most beaches...cést la vie. Anwyay, we went to a Restaurant Opcao there, and the crabs started flying! I ate 2 crabs, a
dish of crab meat, and drank 3 coconuts...we all talked at great length (all in Portuguese)...it was a wonderful night. Back to the apartment around 1am.
April 7, 2000 (Fri):
Woke early...had a quick breakfast (no bananas this time...just a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and a coke...mmmm)...and headed out to use the internet.
Used the internet for quite some time....actually, I was online this day for a total of 12 hours trying to catchup on journals (from 8am until after 8pm...with a short break for lunch...this stuff is work, you know...really). Found out that one of my far flung friends, Dawn, has quit her job and is soon going to go be a ski-bum in New Zealand...good for her. The travelling life is not for everyone...but those who can embrace it should do it...even for a short time if possible. Time marches on. I know it sounds silly, but I am without restrictions on this trip, and I can do what I want anytime I want...but I find it strange to sit down at a computer terminal and be able to know the exact time I will be finished (in 1 hour or 2 hours or 3 hours)...time is exactly precise...and it continues on, despite what we are doing. These are not groundbreaking statements, but I swear, it does amaze me that it is the only thing that I have absolutely NO CONTROL OVER, WHATSOEVER! ...time goes on with or without my agreement or participation...I know that I am not able to express this suitably, but I must make this feeble attempt to relay what I am experiencing...cést la vie...not all things are to be found in the written word either on a page or on a computer screen...the concept of time right now is a hard thing for me to attach to a page...somehow like teflon, it refuses to adhere to my wishes and stick to a page. I guess some things must remain merely concepts for individual interpretation...for me, right now...time is this thing.
Returned to the apartment...had to get ready quickly to go out to a small party at Cristina's cousin's house. Talked on the phone quickly with Luciana...and I mentioned to her that I was kinda lonely without her and that I was thinking about coming back to Recife (under the excuse of wanting to see the Easter Passion Play (Paixao de Cristo) at a place called Novo Jersulaem...near Recife...which I want to see...but mainly I want to see Luciana again...cést la vie...smile), I guess that she wasn't entirely unhappy with the concept...she said she would get us tickets! Smile...I
can't wait to see her again...how pathetic! (smile)
Cristina and I headed out with her boyfriend, Marcos. Arrived at the cousin's apartment...it was a small intimate get together of 8 people...some hors d'ourves (snacks...OK?) and conversation...mainly about Spain...needless to say, I told everyone to go to RONDA...RONDA!!! (Festa de Pedro Romero is in September...it is incredible...if anyone is going to Spain in September...you shouldn't miss it! Look into my eyes...RONDA...RONDA!!! Smile...). Cristina and Marcos wanted to have a quiet evening conversing with the folks there...and Danielle (cousin) wanted to go dancing...I figured it would be good to give Cristina some private time with Marcos, so I went dancing Danielle (ofcourse, I was not being entirely philanthropic...I did want to go dancing!).
Danielle is an Anestheologist (Sp?...she puts people to sleep.) and had just returned from a 10 day vacation in Portugal...we ofcourse talked travel for quite a while. We went to one disco, but judging it from the outside, it
seemed to be slow...so we went to another...Mucuripe. It was nice...had some sort of wierd indian how/presentation...still not sure what that was about...but also had 2 different dance rooms (each as big as a normal
club)...one modern techno and dance music...the other slightly more refined songs of a slightly earlier era, 70s type dance music (this room appealed to a constintuency that was somewhat more chronologically gifted than the other
We spent most of the night dancing in the modern techno room...had a good time. I finally got back to the apartment around 3:30am...fell into bed absolutely exhausted...guess I'm not getting any younger.