Feb 8 DAY 9 FORTALEZA
Today we started our day with a shuttle to H. Stern jewelry store. It was a little too upscale. A pair of drop crystal and 18 K gold earrings were priced at $900 US. Then six of us piled into a cab for a $7 US fare to the public market. Pretty normal stuff – shirts, embroidery, table cloths and very nice shoes. We found that ATMs only function from 10 am to 6 pm. Not sure why that is. Then we took in the Cathedral, the third largest in Brazil. We walked the area then headed for the fort which took us through a very questionable area. The stairway had been used as a bathroom by man and beast. We had to run to avoid the smell.
We found that Fortaleza has a crime problem with young homeless people. We were told not to miss the Englishman's Bridge (not sure why because it was truly unimpressive). Local people at the beach told us it was unsafe for us to be there and to leave. The symbol seemed to be pointing to their eyes – meaning watch out. We made a quick turn and headed to the hotel district. There we found police on sedgeways (sp), locals drinking out of coconuts, lots of thongs on many women that should check out the view before wearing them, and many locals enjoying the beach. Again police and locals warned us to be very careful because groups of boys were doing snatch and grabs. Our friend Bobby is an ex-police officer and swears criminals can tell so we felt safe walking the street. In total we walked about 4 miles then back to the jewelry shop for a free shuttle.
Forgot to mention the $1 beer we found that to our surprise tasted like a chocolate malt ball. We bought the first one at a gas station that sells compressed natural gas for vehicles. The second was purchased at a small grocery store.