April 3, 2014 – Fortaleza, Brazil
We docked this morning at 8. Our local guide was on hand to give us the tour of the city.
The 1st thing we saw was the old lighthouse which we could not go into. It now sits in the middle of a favela, and it is not safe to get out of the car. We then drove to the Praca Monsenhor Amarilio memorial from which we got a good overview of the city.
The next stop was at the office of the Governor of Ceara state. There was a park there and memorial to the dictator who ruled Brazil in the 1960’s. Across the street were these wonderful figures made of twigs and branches. There was a band with each figure playing a different instrument. The last 2 figures were of Brazil’s equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde. While we were taking pictures, a member of the Governor’s Guard came along in full uniform. He posed for pictures for us.
The Media Museum was housed in a building which was built for WWII US service men. The house was very interesting. They had a lot of old TV equipment displayed.
We saw some wonderful flowers and flowering trees. We don’t know what most of them are, but they were certainly beautiful. The Cathedral grounds had a nice display of flowers. The Cathedral here is quite different from the ones in Rio and Salvador. It was built in the late 1940’s and completed in 1949. It has a very sleek and modern feel to it. The stained glass windows were breathtaking. Even with all the tourists, it still felt calm and serene inside.
The last visit of the day was to the Centro Dragao do Mar de Arte e Cultura or Dragon Museum. Since Fortaleza is the site of some of the early rounds of World Cup play, they had a nice exhibit about soccer. The really interesting exhibit to me was about the Vaqueros. The life of a Brazilian cowboy was very similar to that of the US cowboys. Their life was different and some of the equipment was different. However, the branding irons and life on the range were alike. They herded mostly long horns, and the cattle were quite skinny according to the pictures. You could actually count their ribs. The vaqueros wore similar clothes in that they were make of leather to protect their bodies. The stirrups were similar except for some which resembled a shoe. They used those spurs in really rough country to help protect their feet.
The Dragon Center was quite a big complex. It housed the exhibits we saw as well as a planetarium and modern Brazilian art. In one place, to cross from one building to another, they had built a bridge. When you got to the other side and turned to look back, it looked as if the bridge never ended. They had a painting on the wall at the end of the bridge which gave the impression that the bridge went on forever. If you happened to come from that way 1st and didn’t know about it, you could potentially walk into the wall at that end.
We saw yellow chevron parakeets on the grounds of the Museum and across the street was the public library.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not a large modern city of over 2,000,000 people which it is today.
Just before we got back to the port, the local guide almost ruined things for the surprise birthday party for Patsy. He congratulated her and led in the singing of Happy Birthday. Her 1st response was “Who told!?” The rest of us were dying because we were afraid he had spoiled everything. None of us had told him, but he had seen our Road Scholar info which told birthdays. It worked out okay though because she thought one of us had told him and that was going to be it.
We had dinner in the Polo Grill and had a nice time talking and discussing what we had seen. The waiters came out with a birthday cake, and all the waiters and some of the passengers joined in singing Happy Birthday. She was thrilled with the small paintings which Guto had gotten for her. So, all’s well that end’s well.
Spaniard Vicente Pinzon landed in Mucuripe’s Cove in Fortaleza on February 2, 1500. He named the new land Santa Maria de la Consolacion. Because of the Treaty of Tordesillas, the discovery was never officially sanctioned. Colonization began in 1603 when the Portuguese Pedro Coelho de Souza constructed the Fort of Sao Tiago and founded the settlement of Nova Lisboa. The Dutch later occupied the Brazilian Northeast and founded Fort Schoonenborch. When they were expelled, the Portuguese renamed it Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Assuncao. In 1726, the town of the fort was raised to the condition of village. In 1799, the Province of Ceara was separated from the Province of Pernambuco and Fortaleza was chosen as it capital.
During the 19th century, Fortaleza became an urban center in Ceara supported by the cotton industry. Customs of Fortaleza was created in 1812 due to the increased trade with Europe.
The decades of 1870 and 1880 were a period referred to as abolitionist and republican. Such movements caused the emancipation of enslaved African-Brazilians in Ceara on March 25, 1884. This was 4 years before slavery was eradicated from the country as a whole. The literary movement “Spiritual Bakery” appeared in 1892 and pioneered the spreading of modern ideas in literature in Brazil.
In the 20th century, Fortaleza underwent significant urban changes with improvement and the rural exodus into the city. Growth was mostly towards the end of the decade of 1910 and made the city the 7th most populated in Brazil.
Governor Virgilio Tavora (1963-1966) implemented the Industrial District of Fortaleza. By 1976, the city had almost 1,000,000. It became one of the metropolitan areas which were created in 1973. In the 1980’s Fortaleza exceeded Recife in population to become the 2d most populous city in Northeastern Brazil. Its population was 1,308,919.
During the political opening after the military regime, the people elected the city’s 1st woman mayor, Maria Luiza Fontenele, and had the 1st city hall commanded by a left-wing party. At the end of the century, the administration of city hall and of the city underwent diverse structural changes with the opening of several avenues, hospitals, cultural spaces. At that time, it became one of the main tourist destinations in the Northeast and in Brazil.