Fortaleza – The Forgotten City

Fortaleza is a coastal Portuguese colony in the north of Brazil and our first stop of our journey.The city is known for the long running beaches and piers, however there is a overwhelming sense of neglect away from the beach fronts.The beach front hosts, skyscrapers and secure apartment blocks along with some of the best street food stalls. But, behind these buildings are clusters of run down, dirty streets.Fortaleza is also known for the high crime rate caused by illegal drugs. There is definitely some areas of the city that foreigners/tourists would not feel comfortable being in.Some security advise for being in Fortaleza:

  • Only go to beaches and parks that are policed.
  • Many of the beaches at the shore front are policed regularly with miniature bases and patrols. These are also the beaches that are popular with the locals.
    • Never show your valuables in public.

    This was the tip we got from locals and Susannah had a woman tell her off for having her phone in her back pocket…

    • Secure your bag with a lock and wear to the side or on the front.
      Get a money bag/belt

    These are great for hiding your wallet, phone and any lose valuables.

    • Always have some spare change/low value notes in your pocket
  • Unfortunately, the city hosts beggars and we were warned about muggings also. Having easy access to money can help ease these situations. We always kept low value notes in our pockets or belts.
  • Even tho there are not many tourist around, locals are very nice and show patience with non Portuguese speakers.
  • One night we were out at the beach promenade we met a local woman. She gladly spoke English and was very open and honest about the politics in and around Fortaleza/ Brazil. She told us the city was forgotten by the government and rejected by the south of Brazil. She studied to become a maths and physics teacher when she was younger and lived in Rio and São Paulo. Sadly she made wrong life choices and came to Fortaleza which she can’t afford to leave now.
  • Very honest about the state of the city and government she told us stories corruption and regional racism. She was told to go back to the arsehole of Brazil (Fortaleza) when she tried to find a job down south.
  • The further inland you go in Fortaleza, the more developed it becomes. The streets are cleaner and safer with more variety of stores and restaurants.
  • As an LGBT couple, we were concerned about any homophobia that could occur. However, there was no judgement from anyone in Fortaleza and a general openness for the LGBT community.
  • Our recommendations for Fortaleza:
    • Have a long day at the beach! (Prepare yourself for the wind)
      Take a walk round the cultural centre
      Try the street stalls at night along the beaches
      Watch the sunset over the west mountains on the Espigão Da João Cordeiro!
      Visit the inland shopping malls, maybe see a movie or two?

    All in all, Fortaleza isn’t the place for your typical beach holiday but if you want to experience Brazil away from the tourist zones this should be on your to go list.~Nadine~Susannah

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