Every flour has its porridge day

Fortaleza & the Brazilian Championship

(Para ler este post em Português: Toda araruta tem seu dia de mingau)

Now that my dream of participating in the Brazilian Kung Fu Championship was accomplished it’s time to fly back home. Three silver medals added to my luggage. And Fortaleza joined my ‘magical cities’ list…

I arrived with my parents on a Tuesday late at night, our flight delayed by over an hour, the hotel room was verrrrry smaller than appeared to be in the pics of the website where I made the reservations (booking.com), but the bed was quite comfortable and we were so exhausted that sleeping was pretty easy…

Wednesday
Soon after a breakfast enhanced with lots of sausage and fried eggs, we went for a stroll through the Central Market of Fortaleza, Cathedral, handicraft shopping, we ended having lunch at a traditional restaurant named Alfredo located in the seafront which has been serving local food since 1958!

The Central Market in Fortaleza hosts more than 550 small merchants
The Central Market of Fortaleza hosts more than 550 small merchants

How about a walk in the beautiful Mucuripe Beach promenade to help the digestive process?

Mucuripe Beach at Fortaleza
Mucuripe Beach at Fortaleza

Then a strategic stop to savor an ice cream – there are many regional delicacies: sapodilla, murici, bacuri, cupuaçu, soursop, tamarind, acai, … And then…
… When we were leaving the ice cream parlor I heard a familiar voice calling my name…

???? !!!!! ???? !!!!! ???? !!!!! ????

Fortaleza is home for more than 1.5mi inhabitants and among all these people I had to precisely encounter my kung fu training partner Sijeh Maysa and her hubby Renato who have just landed in town?!? Great – this can only be a good omen!

On our way back to the hotel we made a quick stop at the market store to supply our room fridges with goodies. And there I was walking between the aisles when I recognized no one less than the (only) other representative of my academy Sijeh Bruninha, accompanied by her parents Monica and Sergião!

You see, that’s totally weird because beyond the fact that each of the three of us had traveled on different flights and were staying at different hotels and neighborhoods, we hadn’t even exchanged any info about our travel plans!!

Need some explanation? My bet is that this can only be a romp of Saint Longinus. After all that was his day, and this feature of finding things (and I believe it can include people) is his department. I gave three little jumps in his honor…

Thursday
I woke up early, took a shower, stuffed my belly with more fried eggs and sausage (an athlete needs to be well-fed), put on my competition uniform, tied my unruly hair tightly and ran for the championship. A little bit of traffic later we arrived at the UNIFOR Gymnasium. The college was huge and the whole area was beautifully wooded and well cared. I noticed a girl wearing a t-shirt of the Braziliense Federation of Kung Fu jogging around a plaza and thought, ‘What an exaggeration of this chick to warm up! Especially with this warmth it does here in Fortaleza!‘ But anyway … each one is …

Inside the Gymnasium I met some friends from TW Latin America Headquarters and Natal-RN.
The first activity of the tournament is weighing the Sanda athletes (kickboxing). I barely arrived and Bruninha came to tell me that one of her opponents, a girl from Brazilia, had weighed 1.7 kg over the limit of their category (up to 56kg) and that she had gone running to try to lose her extra weight. Ahn … ok! Got it!!

An entire hour goes by… two… three… I root for an athlete, for another I shout, I chat with friends, I drink bottles and more bottles of mineral water, I take a nap lying on the bleachers, and my turn never comes…

Senior Female categories were finally convened at 4PM … First it was the Toi Chat form (which is a pre-combined struggle) that I and sijeh Maysa compete as a team. No kidding this was the best Toi Chat we’ve ever done! We ended feeling that we had done our best. Our final score: 8.24. Wow that’s absolutely amazing!! Great score!!
Then the couple Selma and Karina entered the competition area. Their endnote was 8.32.
Ok, we didn’t get gold at this time… but we felt we had improved a lot and that we’re getting closer and so we got extremely pleased with our silver medal!

Time for another magical moment: the hands-form category. The chief referee announces: ‘Final score of athlete Maysa: 8.29. Final score of athlete Claudia: 8.29.‘ Hahahahaha I need to tell that the feeling of a tie with a friend is much BETTER than winning!!

To tie with a friend is BETTER than winning!!
To TIE with a friend is BETTER than WINNING!!

The gold medal went to Selma who gave us a blameless presentation, as usual. But the rest of the podium belongs to our academy TW Alecrins!! And no one gets sad!

After that we still competed in short guns (swords) and long guns (sticks) categories, and in both I and Sijeh Maysa conquered our medals, Selma taking gold in both. (This japanese lady is damn good!)
We ended the day with a special dinner to celebrate our victories and give thanks for so many medals. Happy Thxgiving!

Friday
This was the day to take mom and dad to enjoy a little since they had spent all day the before sitting at uncomfortable bleachers to support me!
By car we went to Canoa Quebrada in the town of Aracati, which is a village located about 2 hours far east from Fortaleza through CE-040 – a well-cared asphalt road. Formerly a fishing village, Canoa Quebrada was discovered in the 70s by a group of hippies who got delighted with its magic and beauty and also with the hospitality of its natives. Currently during the month of August the village gets full of Europeans who spend their holidays in their summer homes. There’s even a neighborhood that locals kindly nicknamed ‘Gringolandia‘ which means something like ‘Foreing Land‘ but in a scenic way…

Rustic wooden staircase that descends through the cliffs from the village til the beach
Rustic wooden staircase that descends through the cliffs from the village til the beach

The symbol of the village is a crescent moon embracing a five-pointed star carved into a cliff.

The crescent moon carved into a cliff
The crescent moon carved into a cliff

After admiring the cliffs we took a buggy ride through the white sand dunes of Ceara, had lunch at a beach kiosk overlooking the emerald sea, and closed our afternoon with a stroll along the small shops of “Broadway”…

Gateway to the Broadway of Canoa Quebrada
Gateway to the Broadway of Canoa Quebrada
The charming little shops of Broadway
The charming little shops of Broadway

There is nothing too original or sophisticated to buy up there, but there are several lively bars and neat restaurants to eat, relax, and have fun, and the place itself is very charming and worth the ride.

The ocean view at the end of Broadway
Ocean view at the end of Broadway

Another ice cream before taking the highway back to Fortaleza. Another perfect day.

Saturday
This is the day of the final combats and awards distribution.
I took a quick ride to the beach early in the morning and then ran to the Gymnasium not to lose Bruninha’s final fight! I felt very sorry for the girl who struggled with her… Bruninha dominated the combat area from start to finish of all rounds without showing the slightest fatigue.
On the left side of the ring there were our Master De Paula and Sihing Bruno advising our athlete with tips like ‘her fists are down, head and chest, Bruna‘ and on the right side there was the opponent’s mother yelling wildly ‘hit the head of that bitch!!!‘. Hey folks, we’re talking about a juvenile category – Bruna is only 16 years old. What an ugly thing, Mom! After the combat usually athletes and coaches opponents greet each other. And can you believe that the mother mistreated our honorable Master?!? For she yelled at him complaining that our sweet fighter had hit her daughter too strong… Kung Fu, mother, this is Kung Fu. This is Sanda. How did you think it should be? Where is your sportsmanship??

Our 2012 Juvenile Championess between Master and father.
A little unkempt after her victory. Ain’t she gorgeous?

And just in case anyone has the interest: our gracious Brazilian championess Bruna Ellen needs support to attend the 2013 South American Championship. For further information please contact me…

Sunday
Since our flight back home was only scheduled for middle afternoon I had enough time to sunbathe at Future’s beach. Even there Fortaleza entertains you: on one side there was a group playing capoeira and on the other there were some guys practicing somersaults.

But on my way to the airport my GPS decided to trick me and sent me to the wrong airport. I only realized that I was lost by the time I was supposed to be doing the check in!! I started to get nervous and got into an one-way narrow alley with lots of locals lazily chatting sitting spread by the sidewalks… When I was almost reaching the end of the lane I stopped to ask for directions through the car’s window to find out that the correct airport was located 20 minutes away… In this meanwhile another car enters the opposite side of the street blocking my exit and one of my interlocutors speaks from his lounger: “ahhhh you´re not going anywhere… this car that has just entered the lane has its gearbox broken and it can´t move backward…“… AHHHHHH for God’s sake someone help me I’m gonna lose my flight!!!!
A few minutes of panic later miraculously the other car engages the reverse and unblocks the way. I thanked and left desperately – this time in the right direction. I spotted the rental car office… I drove underneath the overpass and caught the handle … wrong!! Sh**!! At this point the check in must be ending…
Finally I found a return and reached the rental car breathless, stepped off the car shouting ‘I’LL LOSE THE FLIGHT!!!’ And at this time I saw the van that makes the transfer leaving the area …! Lucky me Localiza‘s staff was incredibly helpful! The clerk took note of my credit card number on a small piece of paper and released me. Another attendant took us to the airport using the car we had returned! Thanks soooooo much!!! I have no words to describe how much I appreciated it!

And bye-bye magical Fortaleza!!! Hope to come back visit someday…

Aerial view of the city of Fortaleza – CE
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