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05 Feb 2009

Fortaleza, Brazil; Cruise Day 10

I just can’t get enough of Brazil – and this was just our first port of call here. We have been learning about it for a week.

Today we visited Fortaleza, which is close to the Northeast corner of Brazil, and South America for that matter. We toured Fortaleza with a guide (via bus), and watched a delightful dance troupe, Edisca. This troupe speaks volumes on what is happening down here.
 
The Edisca kids are from the very poorest part of town. They sign up with Edisca in order to get themselves (and their families) out of poverty, off the streets and educated. They learn dance, receive a good education, and the government gives their families free food, and pay equivalent to the minimum wage. Peer and family pressures them to move into the middle class and get out of poverty.
 
Presently, Brazil has a President, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who has been in office for several years with a whopping 84% approval rating. His administration has done a wonderful job of starting to create a broad middle class.

Like the rest of the world, Brazil experienced tough economic times last year. Under discussion here is a bailout that would create jobs and better housing (mainly by building 500,000 houses for poor people). To me, this seems to make way more sense than just handing cash over to incompetent bankers and greedy Wall Streeters.

What a great surprise it was to learn that Yakov Smirnoff (pictured) was on-board. This guy is funny. Additionally, he is extremely affable and visible around the ship. The same could be said when Artie Johnson was onboard another cruise I was on.
 
I have been on other cruises where this has not been the case. Kathie Lee Gifford seemed to stay in her cabin 24/7. Shirley Jones seemed nice but her husband, Marty Ingels, turned off many passengers on Crystal Cruises, with what appeared as a holier-than-thou attitude.