Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sunday in Ouro Preto, Mariana, and Macacos

On Sunday, we took a day trip to Ouro Preto, Mariana, and Macacos with one of Eric's coworkers, Bragaia, and Bragaia's niece, Lilian, who was in town for a few days. It was a nice trip and the weather was good for sightseeing. (It was pretty overcast all day, but that kept it from getting quite so hot!)

We started off the day in Ouro Preto (Eric and I have toured it once before on our own and took lots of pictures then.) A little after noon, we drove over to another another colonial town, Mariana, that is very close to Ouro Preto. Bragaia and Lilian didn't care to go inside any of the churches, so Eric and I refrained from our usual tourist frenzy of trying to take it all in and see all that we can possibly see. But, we really want to go back to Mariana sometime so we can see the inside of some of these churches!

This church was really quite unique. Between being completely made of soapstone, not being painted on the exterior, and the curving exterior walls, it really stands out from the other churches in the area. We really, really want to get inside this one next time!

From the church shown above, you get a beautiful view of the city of Mariana!

In all of the colonial towns we've visited in Minas Gerais, there are always churches build right across and/or beside the main government building. In this square, there was this church, along with one other, and the original municipal building. I don't think there was a separation of church and state back in the 1700's! (Or at least, not in the design of the cities.)

This church was caddy-corner to the one above.

And this was the original government building which sits directly across from the church above.

This statue is in the center of the square and, if I understood the placard correctly (in Portuguese), this is where public punishment took place. Which would also explain the balance and sword too. I didn't get it in this picture, but there were metal chains and rings built into the statue where it looks like they must have tied up the criminals. Don't you know people must have thought twice before committing crimes back then ("Now let that be a lesson to the rest of you!" Yikes! Maybe going back to that could lower the crime rate though?!?)

This is a view down the street from the main square shown above. Especially interesting to notice is the large stadium they are taking down. (See the green steel beams?) One of the locals was telling us that someone (or maybe some group? I don't know, I got what I could from it, but my Portuguese isn't perfect yet!) decided it was really taking away from the colonial charm of the town and has ordered it to be taken down. And actually, if you look at the view of the city (the second picture of the post) you can see what is remaining of the stadium in the top right part of the photograph. Given it's location and setting, I can see how it might stand out as an eye sore! And actually, before we got down into town, Eric and I were trying to figure out what the heck it was. It appeared to be a pretty nice stadium when we got close...I do hope that they are taking the steel and rebuilding somewhere else (maybe a little further out of town??) I tried to do a little research to find out more about it, but you'd be surprised at how hard it is to sort through search results in a foreign language you've yet to master!

On our drive back from Ouro Preto and Mariana (a little over an hour from Belo Horizonte) we stopped in Macacos to have a late lunch/early supper. This is a real small town just outside of BH. The name of the city translates to "monkeys" and I was really hoping for a monkey encounter during our stop. No such luck, although I was informed of where in town we could find the critters next time. I am still not believing that I've been in Brasil since October and I still haven't seen any monkeys. They really are one of my favorite animals (although the obsession will have to be a story for some other time.)

It was a nice day trip and it was a good chance for me to work more on my Portuguese conversation skills. At the end of the day, I decided to invite Lilian to come spend Monday with me, if she wanted. She had mostly just been hanging out at her uncle's apartment alone while he was at work. She thought it would be fun, so Monday morning I went with Eric to the office, picked up Lilian, and I got to have the car for the day. I got to have more adventures driving in the crazy rush hour traffic (why is that the only time I ever get to drive??) Lilian doesn't speak English, so I was slightly anxious about filling up an entire day with one other person speaking only Portuguese. (I felt pretty certain I could exhaust my vocabulary options in an hour...) We had a good day though as I showed her around our part of the city, showed her pictures of our wedding and our family, and got a whole ten and a half hours of speaking/listening to nothing but Portuguese. It was awesome practice and we managed to communicate just fine the whole day, so it was another good confidence booster for me in the foreign language department. It was exhausting, as I felt like my brain was complete mush at the end of the day, but it was really good for me. I think Lilian was as nervous about the communication as I was though...she came armed with a Portuguese/English dictionary in her purse. She only had to pull it out once though. :)


Jeremy Sarber said...

This is such a neat looking place. I want to go.

Emily said...

We have 2 guest bedrooms! :)

wondering ego said...

Here I am again... :)

One of the nicest things to do in Mariana is to attend to the organ concert at the Mariana Cathedral. You don't want to miss that!
The Cathedral of Mariana houses an organ built in the first decade of the 18th century. The organ arrived in Brazil in 1753 as a present of the Portuguese crown to the first bishop of Mariana. It is an instrument of great importance, both because of its antiquity and established authorship and because it has undergone a comprehensive restoration. The instrument is being considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage list of Arp Schnitger organs. Go to this site to get info, schedules, etc:

ALSO, near Ouro Preto there is a very small town called LAVRAS NOVAS, calm, with excellent pousadas, nature, waterfalls, horse rides, etc.. You can also rent a house from several local families for the weekend (last time was R$ 90,00 only!) Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

What a great adventure for you two. It remind me of my wife and I in the late sixties and early seventies. I was stationed in Germany. I did not have enough military rank to live off base in American housing. A fellow soldier that had married a german girl helped me find an apartment and the Love of My Life came over. Our landlord took us in as if we were their children. Living out in the German ecconomy was the greatest learning experience ever. God Blesses us in such wonderful ways. May he continue to Bless you.

Borrowed Dad

Tony said...

The churches remind me of the Spanish built churches we saw in Honduras last year. In almost all of the towns and cities there would be a central square with a church on one side and directly across the square there would be the city hall. Much of the landscape looks very similar as well. Looks like your picking up quite a bit of interest in your blog!


Jeremy Sarber said...

What kind of trip am I looking at by plane? How many hours from Indiana do you think it is?

Emily said...

The tricky part of visiting Brasil is definitely the getting here...

First you have to buy plane tickets (never cheap, but if you are flexible, you can usual get pretty close to $1000-$1200 RT from Chicago and Atlanta I know). We fly into either Rio or Sao Paulo and from there to Belo Horizonte (there is a bus option too from either city.) Total travel time from doorstep to doorstep is about 24 hours. The longest leg of the flight is ~10 hours (Chicago-Sao Paulo), but with all the travel to the airport, checking in, transferring, takes us 24 hours total. (Also, the flights are almost always overnight. We've found that taking 1 Simply Sleep - an OTC sleep aid - makes for a nice comfortable flight! :) Mostly because neither of us sleep well on a plane otherwise!)

The second piece of the travel puzzle, is that Brasil requires you to have a Visa, not just passport. So, after you buy the plane tickets, you send copies of the tickets, your passport, an application, and $115 to the Brasilian Consulate and then they mail you back your passport complete with a tourist visa stamp.

Also important to note are vaccines that are highly recommended by the CDC. I wrote all about that on January 23 if you want to check out my archives.

It's not the easiest trip in the world to make, but it is a beautiful place and very, very different from the USA. And at one particular cheap (free) Bed and Breakfast I know, it comes complete with the best ever tour guides: knowledgeable, great sense of humor, good cooks, really, just the coolest people I know! ;) HA!

Jeremy Sarber said...

Whoa. Well, don't ya'll wait up then.