A personal selection from more than 100 thousand photographs, taken at various locations in Brazil. My top 5 of January 2006.
January 2006. Early January, I was in Vitória for a few more days. We then traveled by train to Itabira, a small city about 100 km away from Belo Horizonte. Itabira is a mining city and the city of Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade.
1. Private hospital
When you think of a hospital in a country like Brazil, you would never imagine a modern building as seen in the picture above. You rather think of an old building, badly maintained, dark corridors and obscure rooms with a large number of beds. Unfortunately, this kind of hospitals also exist in Brazil. However, private hospitals, founded with large sums of security money from rich contributors, have a very modern and hygienic appearance. Guards at the entrance keep an eye on the visitors. The visitors have to identify themselves, and receive a temporary visitors card, which they can hand over to each other. No more than two visitors are allowed to visit a patient a the same time. Herewith, safety is guaranteed, and the patient is kept in peace.
2. Dinky toy
At first, you might think that this picture has been photoshopped. But this picture is real. The picture was taken in Itabira, a city at about 100 km from Belo Horizonte. At the city limits, mining companies exploit iron ore. Complete mountains are being scraped off by huge machines. The iron ore is destined for emerging markets, mainly China. Huge machines scrape, break, and transport tons of iron ore-containing rocks. Iron ore is then transported, 600 km away, by train to the port of Vitória, in the state of Espírito Santo. The normal-sized land cruiser is a good reference for the huge size of such iron ore transport trucks.
3. Railway in Itabira
Brazil doesn’t have an elaborate railway system. There are only a few active railways, mainly in the south and southeast. This situation eventually will change in the coming decades, because the Brazilian government is planning to invest huge sums of money in the expansion and modernization of the railways. One of the active railways is the connection between the cities of Belo Horizonte and Vitória. A journey of almost 600 km, which takes about thirteen hours. Yes, thirteen hours! And only once a day, the train departs early in the morning. The train has to stop many times, in order to give way to a constant stream of freight trains. This railway has a branch to Itabira, this railroad follows the slopes of the mountains. Despite the long journey, it is very interesting to watch breathtaking landscapes.
4. Rio Doce
The railroad between Belo Horizonte and Vitória mainly follows the margins of Rio Doce (‘Sweet River’). The basin of this 853 km long river is twice the size of the Netherlands. In winter, during the dry season, this river is no more than a little stream. However, in summer, during the rainy season, the river is very wide and causes many inundations. On quiet days, the train traveler may enjoy the breathtaking river landscapes. The water looks like a giant mirror, in which the clouds and the sky are reflected. The big variety in landscapes of mountains and rivers gives you the idea that the train journey is not that long. One remark: due to the stained glass in the first class carriage, this picture is more bluish.
5. Slaves’ stairs
Itabira is the city of famous Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987). The very productive writer wrote bout many subjects, mainly about everyday issues, or things from his personal environment. In Itabira, one may visit the house where he was born, the fazenda where he had lived with his family, and his house in the center. At the Fazenda do Pontal, one may travel back in time, to early twentieth century, and absorb the atmosphere of that era. The local guide told us enthusiastically about the compartments, and paid more attention to this apparently normal staircase. You might notice dark stains on the stairs. No stains due to aging, but stains of blood. Blood from slaves, who where castigated when they were forced to climb this staircase. Carlos had written a poem about this staircase.
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By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2005, 2014