My first impression of Fortaleza was rather depressing. I met another traveller Davide, from France, and we headed out to see some nightlife as it was kind of boring hanging around at the backpackers hostel. So we went to nearby Iracema where there seemed to be a little movement.
After having a rather tasty, yet rather suspicious dinner for just A$3, we ended up walking into a bar. The entry was $15, based on consumption, which means if you go in and drink nothing, you pay $15, otherwise the first $15 of your drinks is already paid for, so everyone stays for at least two drinks in order to make it worth your while…
Turns out we were in the red light district and it was just the two of us travellers, a few desperate older men and a horde of enterprising women with makeup piled on with trowels…
It was quite depressing to watch, and I wondered what the hell I was doing in this part of town. Outside the streets seemed pretty deserted, and a little bit rough. I was beginning to think that I wasn’t going to like Fortaleza all that much.
But the next day, I saw a different side to the city, which I was glad to see… I spent time at the city’s cultural hub, the Dragao do Mar, and even went to see a play. It was a student production, and so while the acting wasn’t all that brilliant, it was still awesome to see the work that had gone into the production. Tickets were just a few dollars each after all…
I also went to another part of town that was fantastic, Meirelles, a suburb by the sea that reminded me of Rio. There were lots of active, happy people out jogging the sidewalks, the streets were always lively, and a large street fair ensured there was always something to see and buy down by the beach.
First impressions can be damning, in relationships, and even in travel. But give a person time, or a place some time, and you might see another side to it that makes you appreciate the uniqueness it has to offer.
Fortaleza, while not my favourite city this trip to Brazil, was still a great experience, and I’d go back again to experience what else it has to offer.
(Stay in Meirelles, not Iracema, even if it costs a little more… it’s far nicer!)