Today I woke up at 6:30am, quickly took a cold, refreshing shower, and packed all my stuff. At 7am we were on the road, headed out of Fortaleza. People were already awake and moving for the day, but traffic wasn’t too bad yet.
Shortly after making it out of the city, we stopped at a roadside restaurant for breakfast. I enjoyed eggs and cheese rolled up in a tapioca tortilla wrap thing, and I drank cashew juice for the first time. Mmmm!
We drove for several more hours, experiencing ALL the road conditions imaginable. We had nice, new paved roads, paved roads with a few small potholes, paved roads with a few big potholes, paved roads with lots of big potholes…get the idea yet?
The paved roads were laid by the government, connecting pre-existing roads in small villages. However, these village roads were not paved with concrete or asphalt, consisting mainly of smooth cobblestone, rough cobblestone, rocky cobblestone with potholes, cobblestone with lots of big potholes, cobblestone with valleys, stones with canyons…hahaha.
So driving the highways wasn’t too bad because we could usually cruise along at 100-140 km/hour, but in town we often came to a slow crawl so that we could make it through without getting seasick. It makes even more sense now why lots of people drive motorcycles instead of cars. They are less expensive and easier to navigate on bad roads.
I’ll talk about the other roads later (yes, they got worse). Along the way I learned about the countryside of this part of Brazil, a desert area getting rain only about three months out of the year. We are just coming off the rainy season, so everything is in full bloom, green foliage for kilometers and kilometers in the distance.
But within two or three months, most of it will die, leaving the cashew trees and cacti (and a few other plants) to dot the brown landscape with whatever green they can muster. It’s beautiful right now though. To think that I just left a part of the world that is kinda ugly because the rain won’t stop pouring….wow.
Oh, and another thing I saw that I thought I had left behind- corn! Cornfields with rows of healthy corn! Granted, the corn stalks I left are midgets, trying to keep their heads above water so they can grow their ears, but corn is corn, and it looks great here.
I have also never seen corn growing next to cacti with coconut trees and banana trees in the background. Pretty much, it is the best of both of my parents’ worlds- the corn that Mom grew up with in Iowa and the tropical plants that Dad grew up with in the Philippines- all here in the desert with cacti. Fun stuff.
Let’s see…oh! Monoliths! We drove by several mountains before coming upon equally-large scenic monoliths. These massive rocks had my camera’s name written on them, so Canon obliged and shot a few of them. With so many large caves (and me being an adventurer with a love for rock-climbing), the rocks also had my name on them (in Portuguese, of course), but all I could do was wishfully zip by them.
As mentioned, we drove through small towns on the way, all bustling with activity. Aside from everyone driving by or working, several people just sat on their front porches, talking to others or staring as we drove by.
As I learned, Brazilians are an extremely social people, taking any opportunity they have to converse. The home is for sleeping, and the porch is where rest of life seems to take place. SO unlike the US where you can drive through a neighborhood and only see people if they’re out mowing their lawns, watering their grass, or raking their leaves.
We also stopped a couple other times alongside the road to buy some food. In the same day that I first drank cashew juice, I also ate fire-roasted cashews, straight from the source. Man, they were so good. God sure made some good food that I don’t always get to eat back home.
Oh man, for having spent so many hours in a car, I sure experienced a lot today. Less than halfway through explaining my day and I’ve already written so much. Why must my fingers be so long-winded? Hmmm…maybe because they take off on rabbit-trails like this, and nine fingers are quite the task to corral (I never use my left thumb when typing). Okay…back to my day…
So, eventually we left the wonderful asphalt roads and the nice cobblestone streets and did some off-roading. Now, I thought the gravel driveway to my house was bad. This was like driving back and forth on that driveway for an hour…only a little worse.
Since we’re in the desert, the roads are red, and at times they are nice and smooth. But more often, they are filled with large potholes, filled with large protruding rocks where the dirt washed away, or flooded with large puddles of water. We were headed to the smaller villages that were inaccessible by car only half a century ago.
We finally arrived at a village called Palestina (Palestine) where we ate lunch with the local pastor. Palestina is a village with an interesting history, but for sake of time and space, I’ll save the details for those who ask (or receive my email updates).
Anyway, the pastor is a national who was saved and came to Palestina as a laymen evangelist. He has now planted a growing church, and during the week he visits surrounding villages to preach.
He and his wife were such hospitable people, preparing a large meal of rice, lettuce salad, beef roast, beans with hot dogs, and lasagna. For desert we had a passion fruit pudding that was SO good. I love sweets, and I love new fruits, so I had a lot of it.
After lunch we walked to the new church building that they are constructing. Mr. Leonard gave the pastor a check to help pay for the building, the funds being provided solely from national money (nothing from US churches). It was exciting to see the project and hear about the future plans.
We returned to their house where the son asked me to play video games with him. Fortunately it was the Lego Star Wars video game, one that I had briefly played several years ago. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to get past the third phase of the first level, so we couldn’t continue the game.
It was funny because the game is in English, so here I am in Brazil, playing this video game with a kid who understands only Portuguese. But I’m the one who understood the storyline and could read everything in the game…and still neither of us could figure out the level. I also laughed when he turned on the TV, and the system’s menu said something about