April 7, 2018
We had three sea days to travel from Rio to Fortaleza. Our original itinerary was to stop in Recife, but that got changed to Fortaleza. We did find out that the reason had to do with a problem the cruise line had with refueling several months ago, and now they won’t stop in Recife any more.
On the sea days, we relaxed, read, went to the spa, went to lectures and movies, did needlepoint, played in the casino, saw shows and of course shopped. We didn’t buy anything though because the 25% Brazilian tax is imposed on all goods until about April 16 when we leave Brazilian waters. You can choose items and have them put aside until then and charged at that time.
We had only 3 people for blackjack the other day and they usually won’t run the tournament for less than 4. We talked them into it and actually did three tournaments. My friend Tom won all three. I guess we should have stopped at one, but it was fun.
The enrichment lecturer, Dr. Don Klein, has been giving a lecture every day to provide context on Brazil.
Here are some of the things Norm has learned (He goes to all the lectures, I am often doing something else but they do replay them on the TV).
- Brazil was the closest place to sail to receive African slaves. 60% of the slaves came here, while only 3% went to the US. We were surprised by this.
- In the US, there were often 10 slaves for every white landowner and in the American south, people were afraid that if they let the slaves keep their customs, including the drumming and their costumes, that they would rise up against their owners. In Brazil, they didn’t have this fear and the dress, original dancing, drumming, etc, is very much a part of the culture here to this day.
- There is economic diversity here, lots of poor people, but not racism as we know it. You often cannot tell who is white, black or mixed as they all spend lots of time in the sun and look pretty much alike and are treated as such.
- Brazil’s relationship with China is getting much stronger and the relationship with the US is getting weaker.
- Brazil is bigger than the US without Alaska. If you count Alaska, the US is bigger.
Much more we could share, I am sure, but that gives you an idea of the education we get in addition to the fun we have!
Yesterday there was a storm off our side of the ship – I could see it in the distance but we didn’t sail into it. I stayed and watched from our balcony. Here’s a picture of a small rainbow that appeared.
Now to Fortaleza. It is the third largest city in Brazil. And we heard it was 12th in the world for crime, but we saw no evidence of that. We don’t wear any jewelry here anyway, and are careful with belongings. We only had a short time here because of the tides – we arrived at 8 but the shuttles didn’t start till 9:30 and you have to depend on a shuttle – people cannot walk in the port here because it is a busy shipping port. We sailed out at 2. We didn’t have the time to do much as the city center wasn’t so close, so we took the shuttle to the shopping mall and had a nice comfortable walk in air conditioning. Of course I have a picture of an adorable little girl. And one of the sculptures they had on display.
And here are some of the beaches. There is diversity here – lots of poor areas but many beautiful new high rises too.
This is an old lighthouse.
The mall was new and modern with many of the same shops as we have in the US. Many things are much more expensive here – for example, most people do not have iphones since they cost twice as much as in the US. Some different things we saw – there was a perfume place that would make a custom scent for you.
And there was a coaching store! Lots of books but all in Portuguese, but the hats were in English (maybe the word for coach is the same in both languages??) I told the woman there that I was a coach in the US and she was delighted to hear it.
We came back to the ship for lunch and then saw the movie I Tonya while we sailed back into the Atlantic Ocean. Here is what this port looks like from the ship.
Tomorrow we are at sea, and on Monday we enter the Amazon River. Looking forward to that and the adventures that await us there. We will see if the moths really are big enough to lift a rabbit.