Experiences of a Dutchman living in Belo Horizonte, since December 2004, from month to month.
January 2007, part 1: Visiting the beaches in Jacaraípe, and the mountains of Itabira.
During Christmas and New Year, Belo Horizonte is richly decorated and illuminated. The city invests a lot of money and effort to create a wide variety of Christmas decorations. Certain top locations in the city receive special attention. For instance, Praça da Liberdade (freely translated as Freedom Square), is such a top location. Especially in the week prior to Christmas, traffic jams are caused by the arrival of large numbers of visitors to this square. They bring their family and their camera. Other top locations are Pampulha, Parque Municipal, and Praça do Papa. Praça do Papa is called after a memorable happening in 1980, when Pope John Paul II led the mass for more than half a million believers. From December 2006 to January 2007, a huge construction in the shape of a Christmas tree, was illuminated with many meters of Christmas lights. The strings of colored lights switched on and off, according certain rhythms. At night, these lights, together with the city lights of downtown Belo Horizonte on the horizon, drew many visitors who witnessed this spectacular composition.
I had met Jessica two years earlier in Belo Horizonte. Soon thereafter, I also met her family and her boyfriend. We still are very good friends. Jessica’s birthday was in January, and therefore she invited me to visit her at her mother’s house in the neighboring state of Espírito Santo. Jessica lives there in a separate house, together with her boyfriend. Both houses are located at literally a stone’s throw of the Atlantic Ocean. Does Jessica and her family visit the beach every day? No way, most people who live near beaches and shorelines, don’t visit the beaches every day. Jessica’s birthday was celebrated with her family and good friends. There was a churrasco (barbecue), dozens of cans of ice-cold beer, soda, and spirits. A number of friends quickly became drunk and started to shout, cheer and sing. Rock music and Brazilian popular music was playing all night. Jessica’s boyfriend was a very skilled guitar player, and when he took his guitar, everyone understood very well, that the party was far from over. Everyone sang the Brazilian and English evergreens. The sun was about to rise, when the guitar went silent.
Jessica and her family lived in Jacaraípe, a little coastal village north of Vitória, the capital of the state of Espirito Santo. And south of Serra, a regionally known beach resort. Jacaraípe offered only minimal infrastructure for tourists, and therefore, I was able to make long walks along the beach. The warm temperature, the sun, warm warm, it gave me the sensation that I indeed was on holidays. It was so enjoyable to be there. The few beach goers were gathered in the proximity of local beach pavilions; most of them appeared to have arrived from Vitória. There were many young mothers from the village with their little children. The children loved to play on the beach, in the water along the shoreline. I walked long distances, I even visited the more distant center of Jacaraípe, were I noticed a few barracks with an interesting assortment of locally made handicraft and souvenirs.
Another friend lived in Vitória: Diana. I had met her, when I was visiting another friend – Claudia, the first Brazilian friend I have met – in nearby Vila Velha. Together with Claudia, I had visited Diana in São Paulo. A few days later, I met Diana in Belo Horizonte and in Itabira, a mining city at about a hundred kilometers from Belo Horizonte. Diana recently gave birth to her son, Henrique, and in January 2007 I visited them both. With much pride, Diana showed her baby son.
I stayed only a few hours at Diana’s apartment. She was quite busy with her baby. Together with her and Henrique, I visited her parents, who literally lived around the corner. Diana was very lucky to have her parents very near, that her mother regularly took care of little Henrique. Less than a week later, Diana invited me to visit her in Itabira. I took the bus in Belo Horizonte, and less than two hours later, I arrived in the mining city. The excavations of the surrounding mountains are leaving ugly scars in the beautiful mountainous landscape. Brazilian mining company Vale excavates complete mountains for the extraction of iron ore, which is mainly transported to China. Numerous freight trains transport iron ore through the city center, on their way to the harbor in Vitória, day and night. These freight trains may consist of almost 200 wagons. I stayed at Diana’s family, who lived close to the railway. Kadeng, kadeng, every thirty minutes, day and night. With some time, even I got accustomed with the noise. I was even able to sleep two nights there without problems, but I used my earplugs to reduce the noise.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: SALVADOR (51). Back to Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (51). Third Bus Travel to Rio de Janeiro (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Photo Gallery INHOTIM, Brumadinho (MG, Brazil), part 2 (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: FORTALEZA (11). Theatro José de Alencar (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)