Just a short walk from our hotel in Fortaleza, the bright lights of the cities skyline bounce brightly off the cool, black water of the Atlantic Ocean.  The colorful creatures of Fortaleza’s nightlife gather along the boardwalk and entertain passersby with warped sexiness and magic tricks. 


Tonight we walk in their midst searching for trilling night of fun in honor of fellow cast mate, Diego’s birthday.  We’re hit with the strange paradox of watching yellow and orange bands of light calmly transform to deep purples and reds around the setting sun, while overhearing crazy techno dance music blast from the speakers of a red trolley transporting twisted versions of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Spiderman, and Speed Racer along the boardwalk to the delight of young Brazilian children. 


Young boys with surfboards under their arms, joggers in sleeveless t-shirts, and I-pod listening cyclists stream past a man sitting mid-sidewalk, playing an accordion with pretzel crooked deformities. 

Jarred stops to buy a bowl of hot buttered and salted corn from a street vendor and others in our group follow suit.  We munch on the savory treat while watching a group of Brazilians play a combination of soccer and volleyball in the sand.  A man with glasses that magnify his eyes to cartoonish standards notices our group and asks me if I’m enjoying my stay in Fortaleza. 


“Very much, thank you.  I really enjoy this boardwalk area,“ I tell him.

“Down that way,” he says gesturing further down the coastline.  “Down there, there are bad boys…with guns.  Not so much here, but be careful if you go down that way.” 

I thank him for the advice and continue along, glad to be with a large group of my friends.  Soon we reach a night handicraft market, teeming with venders hawking their wares.  We walk past stalls lined with bottles of cachaca, spiced cashews and coconut candies.  Others are heaping with brightly colored sundresses and hand woven lace doilies.  An older gentleman looks to us with pleading eyes, desperate to sell one of his hammocks, but the asking price is steep, and although he assures us that the fabric is “muito forte” (very strong) we apologize and press on. 


Soon our group reconvenes near a hot pink comedy booth run by clowns and cross dressers, and we discuss where to eat dinner.  Pizza Hut is suggested and quickly shot down and replaced with the idea of eating outside at one of the beach bars.  We find one a little further down the lane and gather a few plastic tables and chairs into a cluster and huddle around a few menus attempting to translate. 


Jarred and I split an incredibly reasonably priced fillet minion with crispy French fries, green peppers, onions and rice.  As we eat, fenders from the nearby market wander near our table carrying backpacks filled with crafts.  They flaunt their embroidery bracelets, wooden statues and Brazilian flags in our faces, in hopes of some interest. 


We try not to indulge them too much in an attempt to enjoy our meal without interruption, but one man, carrying mugs made from beer and Coca Cola cans is so persistent that Melissa agrees to peruse his collection.  Soon the table is littered with Skol, Brahma and Nobel beer mugs as Melissa attempts to pick out a souvenir for her boyfriend. 


Her interest in the trinkets sparks the attention of others in the group and soon we are giving the mug man an insane amount of business as each person picks out a purchase.  It’s not too long before the other vendors catch on to the profitability of our table, and hawkers of all kinds surround our table, including one Rastafarian gentleman selling a liquor canister made entirely of animal bones with a chicken skull as the lid.   

Soon our plates and pockets have been equally wiped clean, and we walk away from the bright lights of the bohemian boardwalk and return to the comfort of our hotel for a good night’s sleep.