Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Praia de Iracema’

Gentrification Isn’t Always Bad

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 6th August, 2017

IMG_2663When we first started frequenting Praia de Iracema over 30 years ago, it was an arty suburb of Fortaleza, with low-rise buildings that gave it an attractive air, accentuated by the crystal blue waves that broke along the beach behind the houses. Subsequently, the city grew five-fold, population-wise, and the empty dunes that began only a few hundred metres along the shore were soon tamed and scores of hotels and gated apartment blocks were built facing them, all the way to the port at Mucuripe. Praia de Iracema itself was overshadowed by its glitzier new neighbour and became a haunt for druggies and drop-outs. Some of the old properties were knocked down and replaced with car parks by people who saw a way of making a few bucks. But in recent years, the trend has gone in the other direction, as the area has been gentrified by middle-class couples and families who, like us, have restored old properties, fought to keep conservation area status and backed the local authority’s excellent initiative to construct a wide promenade all the way along the beach from a big stone breakwater to the Ponte Ingles — a miniature pier in cast iron, imported from England a century ago, like so much of the fine ironwork in Brazil. Henceforth Praia de Iracema looked northwards the sea, with the sun marking its progress daily from east to west, as thousands of people safely bathe from the beach and in the evening enterprising locals rent out fantasy bicycles and roller skates to people from the city coming to savour the fresh air and restored environment. IMG_2682


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Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 7th February, 2010

Brazil’s Carnival will take place next weekend —  an annual explosion of partying in the street, parades, drinking and brief encounters (for which the government is distributing 55 million free condoms) before, in principle, everyone hunkers down into Lent. Unlike Rio’s Carnival, where samba schools perform in closed locations in front of a paying crowd, in the rest of the country Carnival is one big street-fest, free and easy. Here in Fortaleza, in north-eastern Céara province, however, the Workers Party local administration has put on a big festival this weekend, as a pre-Carnival, to give some of the samba groups a chance to practise in front of a big crowd, but more importantly for the local population to get revved up. There’s an enormaous stage on the beach at Praia de Iracema, where pop groups are playing, though the thousands of young people who had gathered to dance were a bit put out at having to listen to 15 minutes of speeches from politicians about how great the city council is before the music started. Unlike in the south of the country, where there have been extensive floods, it hasn’t rained in the north-east for four months. That’s not that unusual for this time of the year. One of the first radio packages I did for BBC Radio 4, over 25 years ago, was on the drought here in Céara and the accompanying hunger. The authorities have got much better at handling such extremes of climate these days, but people still flock into Fortaleza from the parched countryside. The population is now approaching three million, not counting all those people who sleep in the doorways of shops in the city centre. At least at Carnival (and Pre-Carnival) everyone, rich and poor, can get up and join in the celebrations and forget their woes.

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