Fortaleza is an interesting mix with its paradise beaches in a big, modern and moving city. Historians still debate who would have made it first to the Brazilian coastline: Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral, who arrived in Bahia on the 22nd of April 1500, or Spaniard Vicente Yanez Pinzon, who would have been in Brazil by the 2nd of February 1500.
Fortaleza’s population of 2.4 million makes it the fifth largest city. It lies within the state of Caera which has great cultural wealth and is home of Brazilian authors Jose de Alencar and Rachel de Queiroz. It was the Dutch who built Fort Schoonenborch in 1637. When the Dutch abandoned their Brazilian possessions in 1654, the Portuguese renamed this fort the Fortaleza de NS da Assuncao (Fortress of Our Lady of the Assumption). Around it grew a village, then a town, then a city that came to be called Fortaleza.
Our gracious host and new friend Tarso picked us up and took us to his quaint home deeper inland in the city. There was a true national holiday feel for “jogo bonito” (beautiful game). The amount of national flags truly rivaled anything I’d seen even on South Street in Philly over a Fourth of July weekend. They were on cars, shops, gas stations, balconies, and every place in between. We were welcomed into his home and his neighbors sat about the street with teenagers blasting fireworks nonstop. Tarso’s wife, Adelana, supplied small portions of dishes including ones with bacon and cheeses to go along with fresh cashews and Argentine beers on ice. Their 6-year-old son Pablo entertained us with his singing and other new friends, including Cabeza soon arrived.
On Thursday, the own goal by Marcelo sent a palpable horrific chill throughout the room and neighborhood, but Neymar’s brilliant equalizer lifted spirits again. The party accelerated with the 2-1 lead. I poured rounds of Quilmes for all, and made the mistake of filling Cabeza’s glass too, who had only been drinking Red Bull. Drew laughed and asked him to translate “party foul” into Portuguese. In the end, Selecao earned the 3-1 victory and we ended the night at the scene of FIFA’s Fan Fest hours later with revelers dancing in the streets to live music under a bright full moon high above.
The Cup kicked off right and we’re ready for a full day of the beautiful game Friday.
Brennan Karle is a Las Vegas teacher who covers prep sports for the Review-Journal. He’s in Brazil for the World Cup and will be sharing electronic postcards on his experiences. You can see photos of his trip on Instagram at brennankarle.