Jonathan Fryer

Praia de Iracema

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 23rd March, 2008

When I first came to Fortaleza nearly 30 years ago, Iracema was on the very edge of the city — a place people came to enjoy the beach at the weekend. But now the city has engulfed it, spreading several miles along the coast, to the port of Mucuripe. Luxury tower-blocks and hotels stretch several streets back from the shore, though a small kernel of traditional houses with their red tiled roofs (including the one where I always stay) remain.

The number of European tourists is growing, as there are now daily flights to Fortaleza from Lisbon, but the vast majority of visitors are from São Paulo and other southern cities. These southerners are half as big again as the locals, and 10 times as rich; this really is a country of divides. On one visit here, I made a radio documentary about the Catholic Church’s response to the poverty that is still the lot of a majority of Brazilians. Of course, the same is true in the other BRICs (i.e. Russia, India and China) and one of the things I am working on now, both as an academic and as a journalist, is how to narrow the gap in these emerging states as the economy grows. 

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