I have been in the city of Fortaleza for two days, and wanted to explore some of the surrounding sights. This is my first time in the northern part of Brazil, and I had heard for a long time how beautiful the beaches were here. They did not disappoint.
Paula and I woke early and boarded a small bus for the long drive to Morro Branco. It is considered one of the best beaches in this part of the country, and is about a 2.5 hour drive south from Fortaleza. Along the way, as I gazed out the window, I had the opportunity to reflect on the influence of geography and climate on culture. We are all prisoners of these two conditions; and the dweller of the tropics feels this reality more acutely than the inhabitant of the more temperate regions of the globe. Draw a line around the earth along the equator, and you will find cultures that have tried to adapt to the oppressive conditions within the means available to them. Much of man’s time in these regions was expended in the daily struggle to survive; he had to fend off encroaching jungles, cultivate soil of uncertain fertility, and avoid pernicious diseases that thrive in hot climates. He had available to him less of the day’s available time, since the powerful sun blotted out any hope of productive outdoor work, and imposed rigid requirements on what types of structures could be built. If stone and wood were not readily available, ambitious building projects were out of the question. Indolence was to him a survival mechanism rather than an ethical shortcoming. The geography of the jungle, like the terrain of the mountains, breaks up communities into pockets where every tribe considers itself subject to no law but its own, and this in turn prevents the formation of any large national entity where collective efforts might be pooled in the service of larger enterprises.
In any case, these were some of the considerations that came to mind as we traveled. The beach at Morro Branco was impressive. We were first led through the “Labirinto das Falecias,” which is a series of eroded sand formations. As can be seen from the photographs below, these cliffs at first sight appear to be made of stone. This is not so. It is a type of densely packed, multicolored sand that I have never seen before; I assume its variety of color is due to differences in component minerals and silicates. We then climbed on motorized “buggies” and drove some distance along the beach, stopping here and there to see different points of interest. Aggressive vendors were always to be found, and we finally agreed to eat a delicious plate of skewers of chicken hearts, linguica, and salted cheese.
We then boarded the bus again to go to Canoa Quebrada. This famous tourist beach is about 165 kilometers south of Fortaleza and is located in Ceará. This was one of the most impressive beaches I have seen. The water was warm, the waves moderate, and the beach itself relatively unspoiled by commercialization. During the long drive back to Fortaleza, we stopped at a small roadside store selling all types of locally-produced foods and drink. There was a large variety of artisanal cachacas (sugar can liquor), as well as candies, crackers, and hot sauces.
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