Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fortaleza, just north of the eastern-most point of Brazil

A small but beaming man stands on the dock arrested in a half-dance. “Welcome, welcome!” he shouts when the first lines are cast through the pelting rain. “Welcome to Fortaleza!. It rarely ever rains here!”

We Dutch are no strangers to rain but rain like what’s falling on this city of millions, notorious for its drought, is powerfully at odds with our sense of moderation or justice for that matter. It’s really denser than a shower, raising a deafening racket from the roofs and decks and the water around us. During our approach we saw the sun-bathed skyline of Fortaleza rise like a tsunami on the horizon, but as soon as we reached the breakwaters, the sky turned black and the city disappeared behind a sheet of frosted glass.

We’re in with a group. It’s always a bit strange to see other ships so close. At sea encounters are deadly and are avoided with zeal. In ports we carefully drift together, forgiving and needy, like clumsy nomadic creatures during mating season. Directly to our stern a Panamanian vessel is loading. Off the pier are tankers, rubbing like whales. Crews stare at each other, wondering if life is the same, better or worse on the other ships.

Landlubbers have no idea about life at sea. Even the passengers of the great white cruise ships can only guess. Sometimes an apprentice turns into a writer after a few months of sailing, but very rarely a true veteran - a true ancient mariner – remembers enough of land-life to be able to convey the slings and arrows of sea-life. We stand on the aft deck and look silently at the men standing on their own. Someone ought to go tell them, we think. Let them know where we are.

Approaching Fortaleza, Brazil

Ships in the harbour of Fortaleza

A ship in the harbour of Fortaleza

Fortaleza, Brazil

Tug boat in the harbour of Fortaleza

Out to sea again

Nightfall over Fortaleza

Fortaleza by night

Panameaian vessel loading

1 comment:

  1. Your blogs arouse my interests in travelling !


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