Monday, March 31, 2008

A Weekend at the Lake

If all goes as planned, we will be receiving our car this week from the factory. And if that is the case, we just spent our last weekend with the rental car. We figured there was no better time than this weekend to go put some miles on a car that wasn't ours, so we made the 4 hour journey North from Belo Horizonte to Três Marias on Saturday morning. There is a big reservoir in our state, Minas Gerais, created by the Três Marias dam on the São Francisco River.

The lake itself is enormous! It covers 1,040 km² (256,989 acres). In comparison, for the Georgia folks at least, Lake Lanier covers 154 km² (38,000 acres). (These numbers are from Wikipedia.) The water was the clearest, cleanest freshwater we've ever seen! There are no large cities anywhere around the lake nor upstream on the river. (If you have Google Earth, fly to Três Marias, MG, Brasil and see how bright blue the lake is. It's amazing.) The entire weekend, I think we saw 4 boats in the water. It was the quietest, most peaceful place we've been in Brasil! We had gorgeous weather on Saturday and Sunday. And we saw more stars Saturday night than either of us can ever recall seeing. It was a quiet, clear, dark, and beautiful night!

The pousada we stayed in was excellent as well. The daily rate included breakfast, lunch, and supper, since it was way off the beaten path and there was nothing else around. It was right on the lake, and we had a 20 minute drive down a dirt road to get to it. We were in the middle of nowhere - and there was no place in Brasil we'd rather have been this weekend! The service was top notch too! We were waited on hand and foot the entire time we were there.

They had the option of staying in "apartments" a little further up the hill, or in "chales" right on the water. Or this time of year, um, IN the water. We chose the apartment.

We asked if the lake was just really high this year, but the owner told us, "Oh no, the chales flood every year." Hmmm, I think I would be inclined to raise them a little higher.

This next picture was from a series of pictures Eric took after discovering the "burst mode" on the camera. If anyone is interested in a flip book of the Brasilian flag waving in the wind, let me know... it does a real nice job of showing off the bright blue skies we had this weekend though.

An added recreation bonus at the pousada was this climbing wall. And I also get to present to you, for the very first time on the internet, my husband in his sunga. :)

We watched a beautiful sunset from the dock on Saturday night and I got a little picture happy. I'll just post a few of the 20+ that I took.

One of the things we were most excited about was getting to see the dam. For a little background information, from Wikipedia again:

The lake of Tres Marias began with the damming of the São Francisco River, formed by the construction of one of the largest earth dams in the world. The objectives were to control the flow of water of the river in the periodical floods and improve navegability; the use of hydroelectric power and the development of industry and irrigation. Begun in 1957, this great project was finished in January 1961, almost a world record in this type of construction.

The dam is 2,700 meters long with a base of 600 and a height of 75 meters. Its plant produces 396,000 KW of power. The lake, known as the "Sweet Sea of Minas", has 21 billion square meters of water, a surface area of 1,040 square kilometers (8.7 times greater than Guanabara Bay), and provides water to 8 municipalities.

The speed of construction was due to the commitment of President Juscelino Kibitschek, who also completed the bridge over the São Francisco river, the BR 040 highway, and the new federal capital. The construction of the dam was carried out in two shifts, using approximately 10,000 workers.

One of the world's largest earthen dams? Awesome! We were both looking forward to it. We went to go see it Sunday morning, but we were met by this:

Eric was certain we could drive in, (there were, after all, no signs saying entrance was prohibited) but that we would just need to stop and check in first. Turns out they don't allow visitors. But who would have thought that with the barrels, gates, tire-puncturing strips, and armed security guard? Oh how I do love my hubby's optimism! So we never actually got a good look at the dam. But we had one heck of a time relaxing around the pool and down at the dock at our pousada.

The only real eventful part of the trip was the drive, and that's coming up tomorrow! (Hint: have you ever seen pot holes the size of a small car?)

1 comment:

Justin said...

Beautiful pictures, Em. If that lake were in Georgia, the lake houses would be packed so close you'd have to walk between them in a single file line. I can't wait to come visit you!