Sunday, August 13, 2006

Everything from Belo Horizonte, Mariana and Ouro Preto

Finally, here are all the pictures and journal entries from these three fine cities.

Again, the lookout from Belo Horizonte's second-highest peak.

Peanut Street. The way the houses were built on this street make the street look like it goes uphill when in actuality it goes downhill. Weird stuff.

Keren and Becca thinking.

On the way to Ouro Preto.

From Ouro Preto we went to Mariana. This is a church that's there.

By some odd stroke of luck, we just happened to end up in Mariana on Dia do Estado. I explain what this is in my journal entry.

Band procession in Mariana.


Another church.

Artsy shot. Stole this idea from Becca.

Me, Becca and Keren all taking a picture at the same time.

Just thought this was a sweet shot.

Looking out over Mariana.

I believe this is the Catedral de São Pedro. I might be wrong. This is the only church in these three cities modeled after Italian architecture.

Nice wood carving inside the church.

This and the next two are some of the stage stuff they had during the Dia do Estado in Mariana.

Some kids playing on the playground at the train station.

Cathedral-looking building for the train station.

Far-away but zoomed-in shot of some churches in Ouro Preto.

Big church with the sun screwing up my picture in Ouro Preto.

Museu dos Inconfidentes. Look it up on Google if you're interested in the history about it all.

Big church near the crafts fair where I bought a chess set.

This and the next two are just some sweet city shots. This one is from the top of a hill.

And this one is looking out the window of the restaurant where we ate lunch.

So is this one.

Just a nice looking shot with the clouds behind the church.

Nice church that was having some construction done to it.

*Someone should put these next four pictures together for me. I took four pictures to make a 180º+ landscape shot. Keren is more than likely in mid-sentence in the last picture. I'm working on having someone put them together for me, I'll post the result when I get it.

Okay now here are the journal entry things for the days I was in these three cities.

Day 1: Belo Horizonte
I’m actually writing this on day two of being here, but whatever. So I got into the airport after being delayed quite a bit. I walked past the taxi-stand and realized “what the hell I’m not paying $50 for a roundtrip taxi thing again”, so I went to the tourist information thing and said “y0 where be the cheap hostels?” They gave me a booklet and told me about a R$13 bus I could catch to the center of Belo Horizonte. Confins airport is a freakin’ hour outside of the city! Anyway so I called Pedro from FHBD and said, “sup nugz I’m in town” and he was like “awesome get on the bus, call me when you’re in the city and I’ll meet up with you there”. So I did just that.
He picked me up at the central bus station then said “okay so you can stay at my house tonight and we’re gonna go out to eat some mineiro food also” (keep in mind this is exaggerated and it’s all in Portuguese as well). So we went to his place, he let me check my email/update my Facebook status, then we went out to this place called Veio do Minas and they had some awesome tropeirão. It had beans with farofa and all sorts of pork meat (even the skin that was fried!), rice, chicken, eggs, peppers, and all sorts of good stuff. It was probably some of the best food I’ve had here in Brazil.
Pedro’s girlfriend went with us as well, but unfortunately I can’t remember her name right now. We then went to her house and hung out there for probably thirty minutes or so, then Pedro and I went and played some pool and had a few beers. It was pretty awesome. I could definitely get used to this Brazilian hospitality. I never even talked to this guy until an hour before I met him in person and he opened his house up to a complete stranger. It’s hard to find that in the US.
Anyway, all sentiment aside, after that we went to Parque das Mangabeiras, which is a very high point in Belo Horizonte. I took a couple pictures there, but only one came out good. The attraction is that from this point you can see the entire city completely lit up at night. Think of it as a “make-out point” place where people actually go and make out… a lot. I’m down with it. We also went to Rua do Amendoim (Peanut Street). It’s funny because all streets in Brazil seemed to be named after important events, people, or other cities and states in the country. Anyway this street is weird in that because of the construction of the houses and the gates around the houses, it looks like a hill that you’d have to accelerate to get up, but it actually is a descent so you’re going downhill even though it looks like you’re going uphill. Anyway, was pretty funny to me.
After that we just went back to house place and went to bed. We were both really tired and because I tried to read on the plane I felt really sick. I had a headache from about 20 minutes into the flight until about an hour after I got off the flight. I slept for probably 45 minutes of the hour and 10-minute bus ride from the airport to the middle of the city, so that helped me out. But, now to move on to day two.

Day 2: Belo Horizonte
This morning after we all took a shower (not together sillies!) and everything, Pedro let me copy some of his Brazilian movies to my computer. So now I have Bicho de 7 Cabeças, Cidade de Deus, and O Homen do Ano. He also let me copy about 2.25 gigabytes worth of Brazilian music onto my computer from his iPod, so now I have even more to listen to than O Rappa.
So after all that, around 11AM we left to go pick up Rebecca and Keren from the Rodoviária (bus station). I looked for about 10 minutes and then Becca walked up to me out of nowhere (her South Carolina Gamecocks shirt was the giveaway). She told me that they got there around 8AM, but luckily it wasn’t my fault. The bus took 11 hours to get from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte, so I guess she looked at it wrong and thought it said arrives at 11AM. No big deal, though. I found them and Pedro took us to our hostel.
This hostel is actually very nice, and the price doesn’t hurt either. It’s only R$21 per night, which is around $9US. I met two Brazilians here, one from Rio and one that is from Belo Horizonte but lives in England (has a son there), but is in Belo Horizonte visiting people. We’re gonna go to Ouro Preto tomorrow but come back at night. We figured that the price here is too good to pass up, and they seem to have really good security. Even still, I will probably carry my laptop with me just in case. One person in my room (there are three others here) has seen my computer out so I don’t want him to get any ideas.
Anyway today after all that we settled into the hostel, Becca and Keren took a shower (I don’t blame them after 11 hours on a bus), then we went out to a little “por quilo” restaurant and had some decent food. Then we went to Parque Municipal and took some nice pictures, hung out by a little lake, and just had an overall nice time there. Becca and Keren were still reeling from the bus trip so on one really wanted to visit any museums or anything. There are a million churches and museums in Ouro Preto and Mariana so we’ll get to see all of them tomorrow.
So we went to the mall to see what movies were playing and we decided to go see that movie that has Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn (here it’s called Separados pelo Casamento), and after that we’ll try and find some good mineiro food (Mineiro is was people from Minas Gerais are referred to as, like São Paulo = Paulista, Rio de Janeiro = Carioca, Curitiba = Curitibano, etc.) We were told that there are some good festas juninas happenings going on near our hostel, so we might go there and see the dancing and see what other kinda cool stuff is going on there.
Becca and Keren went to mass at this Catholic Church near here. They would go tomorrow in Ouro Preto but there are so many museums and churches and things to do there that I guess they wanted to do it tonight to have time for tomorrow. Anyway I’m gonna meet them there at 7:05 (it’s 6:45PM now) then we’ll go to the movie, which starts at 7:30, and then out to eat.
I think we’re gonna get up around 7AM tomorrow so we can get on the bus and go to Ouro Preto. It’s a two-hour bus ride there, and I think we might go to Mariana as well, which is another 30-minute bus ride. I think we have decided that we will go back to Ouro Preto on Monday, because really there isn’t too much to do here in Belo Horizonte (aside from a lot of museums but none of them seem nearly as good as the ones in Rio or São Paulo). But at least in Ouro Preto we can see all the awesome museums again, try some good mineiro food and go to Mariana again (unless we won’t have been there yet, in which case we can go for the first time).
Our flight leaves around 8PM Monday evening so we’ll have plenty of time I think. I notice that I’ve written a lot more about Belo Horizonte than I did about Rio, but that’s likely just because I am not here alone really. Anyway it’s 6:51 now and even though I know it won’t take me 15 minutes to walk to the church I’m gonna go ahead and get out of here. I’ll write more tomorrow or maybe on the bus on the way back to Ouro Preto. Peace out till later peepz.

Day 3: Belo Horizonte/Mariana
So I’m quite a bit behind, as I still have to type up Day 4: Belo Horizonte/Ouro Preto and Day 1: Fortaleza (where I’m at right now), but I will try and remember as much as I can about those two days in Belo Horizonte. Day 1 in Fortaleza is about 13 minutes from being over. Let’s see what I can do.
We got to Ouro Preto after taking a nice and scenic ride from Belo Horizonte. From there, we took the first bus we could get to Mariana. Mariana is a really old city and was the first capital city of the state of Minas Gerais. As fortune and luck would have it, we were there on the 16th, which is Dia do Estado do Minas Gerais, where state control for the day is transferred from the capital of Belo Horizonte and back to Mariana. We saw a lot of good marching bands, from traditional brass/wind/percussion stuff to some African drumming.
The reason we caught the first bus to Mariana is because we wanted to catch the 12:15 Sunday pipe organ concert at the Catedral Basílica da Sé. As misfortune and lack of luck would have it, and maybe because I took us to the wrong church first, we got to the church at 12:25PM and they wouldn’t let people in late for any reason. Instead we visited quite a few other churches, including the Catedral de São Pedro. We had a very good tour guide who showed us for about 20 minutes all through the church and told us the history of it, all for a little R$10 donation. The church was awesome and is supposed to be the only one in Ouro Preto and Mariana that is not of Portuguese styling; instead it is Italian architecture. It was very nice though.
We visited a few more churches, had a good lunch, bought some nice chocolate, and then went to an area that had a stage with lots of performances. Some were instrument groups, some were dancers, and others were just a little bit weird.
Really I think that’s about all that went on that day. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking because being two days later I’m having some trouble remember exactly what all we did. We go back to the bus station in Ouro Preto and caught the last bus at 9:30PM back to Belo Horizonte. We got into Belo Horizonte and went pretty much straight to the hostel. I was feeling a strong desire to go out on my own, sit at a little lanchonete and ponder the meaning of life, so I went out, bought a little coxinha, hooked it up with some spicy mineiro hot sauce, a few glasses of orange juice and sat around for probably an hour or so just wondering about the universe and life and all that jive.
After that, I went back to the hostel, took a shower, and went to bed. And the next day…

Day 4: Belo Horizonte/Ouro Preto
…we woke up at 7AM, took a shower, and got on a bus at around 8:30AM for Ouro Preto. We didn’t get to all sit together this time, but it turned out to be okay because on the bus were two guys who study at the Federal University of Ouro Preto, so they showed us a few things and told us a little about the city. We took a few pictures, then stopped somewhere and had some coffee and some pão de queijo, but by this time the two guys had to leave because they had classes.
After the coffee and saying bye to the nice guys, we walked down to a little market fair area that had a lot of artisan crafts and jewelry. I bought a really nice handmade chess set (the second one I’ve bought in Brazil), a holy water fountain for Claire and I also exchanged information with the guy I bought the chess set from. He had this really awesome jar with six cups on a nice little platter for wine, and he told me if I contacted him with a picture of the one I wanted along with my address and payment information he would mail it to me in the USA. I would have bought it but I didn’t think I’d have any way to get it back without it breaking.
After buying stuff at the market we walked to a nice place that had some mineiro food por quilo, so we stopped in there and ate lunch, had some good conversation, took a few nice pictures and just had a good time overall.
Unfortunately we had to be back to the hostel by 5PM to get our bags, catch the bus to the airport at the main bus station and then fly out of Belo Horizonte to Fortaleza. So after lunch, we took a nice little stroll towards the bus station, stopping along the way to take whatever pictures we thought would be worth taking. We got to the bus station a little early, so we bought our tickets then sat around talking to each other some more and just hanging out. I think we ate some chocolate too, but that might have been the day before. So anyway, we took the bus back, had some more good conversation, Keren slept a little bit and I think Becca did as well.
This one little girl came to the back of the bus to go to the bathroom, but she was really little so she couldn’t get the door open. I leaned up and opened it for her and she looked at me and said “merci”. It was really cute, so I think now I don’t hate the French language or France as much as I did before that, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I think French is the worst language ever.
Okay so after all that we got to Belo Horizonte, practically ran to the hostel to get our stuff and try and be back to the bus station by the 6:10PM departure. When we got there we were kinda delayed so the guy who owns the hostel came outside with us to negotiate a good deal for a taxi to take us to the airport. The driver agreed to take us to the airport for only R$50, which split between the three of us was a really awesome deal.
Once we got out of the traffic caused by construction, the guy was driving really fast. He got us there pretty quickly (much faster than the probably more than an hour bus) and thankfully the guy negotiated to R$50 because it saved us a lot of money. The total on the meter said about R$78. So saving R$28 was definitely good.

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