When I read the description of the hostel in Fortaleza, I thought it sounded pretty cool. And as it turns out, it was… but only for the people which go there.
The rooms were pretty basic… okay they were kind of sketchy at best!
One of the main ladies who cleans, constantly talks to herself, sometimes about you, in front of you, whether anyone is listening or not….
Cleaning day in the kitchen means that everything, and I mean everything, gets hosed down, from the ceiling rafters to the walls, the wall sockets, the chairs, letting the heat dry it all out eventually (now I get why there was a musty smell…).
The bathroom has a motion activated light with a short fuse, so needless to say that when you are in the shower or toilet for more than a minute, the lights go out. Toilet paper, well it’s not provided, as the ladies who run the place say, “Well you guys go out and buy it, so why do we need to…?”
Aside from all this, this was still one of the more sociable and fun hostels that I stayed at in Brazil. It’s funny how odd situations, like bad lodgings, train delays or accidents can get people to talk and open up to each other more….
A hostel is only as good as the people that stay there as well…
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!)