Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Few Days in BH

My desktop computer has recently gone on strike and refuses to boot up. Ugh! None of my solutions have fixed the problem and it looks like it will be off to the computer repair shop for us real soon here. Since we have the laptop, I am still getting my daily fix of connection with the world. However, the pictures we took with my family in Minas Gerais were safely stored on my desktop, not yet backed-up, and therefore, being withheld from me at the present moment. (insert heavy sigh)

We were a little all over the place after arriving in Belo Horizonte on Thursday night, September 4. Eric and I had a list of restaurants we wanted to take the family, along with a hefty supply of things to do and see.

We ended up being joined for supper on Friday night by a fabulous couple from Canada and their adorable 9 month old son who are considering a move to Belo Horizonte. We took them to one of our favorite restaurants, Bar Ideal, and all indulged in marvelous filet mignon and seasoned fries. Eric and I are (maybe selfishly) really hoping they end up making the move. We really enjoyed their company and it was so nice to go out and speak English with other people! (They were also the first "internet people" that I've actually met in person. They keep a blog as well, so it was interesting meeting people for the first time and already knowing so much about them already!)

We spent that next Saturday in Ouro Preto and Mariana touring the colonial cities, the churches with gold-covered interiors, and getting in our fair share of traversing the cobblestone hillsides.

On Sunday we decided to head out to Inhotim, which Eric and I hadn't even visited yet! It is at the end of a long dirt road outside of a little town about an hour away from Belo Horizonte. After the colorful journey there, we found acres of beautifully landscaped countryside sprinkled with a series of modern art galleries. Some of the art was quite unique, to say the least, but all very interesting. For us, the best part was probably the setting of the whole place. I can't imagine the staff it must require to keep that place up, but it was amazing! (Now would be a great place to insert any number of the fabulous photos we took. Dang technology!)

The next week, we stayed busy a little closer to town. Eric worked each day, but I had arranged to have substitutes for all of my English classes so I could spend my days showing everyone the sights of BH. Among other things, we took trips up to Pampulha Lake, walks to Praça da Liberdade, a drive out to Fazenda Vale Verde, and a stroll around Praça do Papa. I drove them around and showed them all the "must see" sights around town. They were also introduced to the Belo Horizonte traffic and aggressive driving. My dad made the comment that the Brasil people seemed to be some of the nicest people he had ever met . . . until they get behind the wheel and then they turn into the rudest, most aggressive people on earth. I couldn't really argue with that. Although it did remind me of how I was in the beginning here (totally scared for my life every time we got in the car) and made me realize how accustomed I'd become to it all. I don't think it is healthy that I consider the driving here normal now! While I tend to stay calm even as cars turn right out of the far left lane and across three lanes of traffic or as kids come darting out right in front of you into the road, the same couldn't really be said for my poor family. They were a smidgen on the nervous/edgy side to say the least!


Anonymous said...

Oh, well... How would your dad react to the traffic in Los Angeles or New York?

Emily said...

Having traveled (and personally driven) in big cities all over the USA, I still contend that it is much crazier here! (Especially considering the metropolitan BH area has only 5 million inhabitants - much smaller than either LA or NY!)

Ray Adkins said...


No seriously, I drive into New York once a week, some taxi drivers will literaly touch your car with their yellow cabs and push you out of the way!
To our defense, they are mostly foreigners who were probably riding a donkey six months ago :)
Miami is really, really agressive as well, but again I think it is a hot latino blooded thing...
I have noticed the same traffic absurdities in Budapest, Hungary.
But on the opposite side of the Crazy agressive Brazilian, Miami Latino and New York drivers you have the British, my parents were in England on a vacation during the eighties and a car ahead of them just stopped on a round about and never moved, for about 20 minutes my parents waited and watched at awe as no one honked any horns, until they saw an ambulance and everyone understood that the gentleman in the car ahead of them blocking the intersection had had a heart attack, but the british just patiently waited until they understood what was going on...
Can you picture this in Brazil? or even Atlanta? somebody would just not honk a horn but most likely pull out a gun!


Russell said...

Having only ever been a passneger and never the driver in Brazil, I can't say how I'd do. My wife warned me in advance as to how driving and traffic would be, but the ride from Confins was a real surprise, especially since I'm not from a big city. I will say that now after three different trips to Brazil, I'm not anxious or nervous anymore, I guess it seems normal while I'm there.
My biggest difficulty was being more cautious in crossing the street, even at a crosswalk. I'm used to having somewhat of the right of way, and that doesn't matter there, not even the slightest slowing down to ensure that you're completely out of the way. More than once I've been scolded by my wife while out on a walk.

Corinne said...

As a pedestrian in Brazil, I always feel safer crossing AGAINST the light because at least then I KNOW the cars won´t stop. What bugs me about pedestrians in BH is how they really DO wait for my (the driver´s) light to turn green and then dart madly across the street, right in my way!!

Jill Chandler said...

Never been to Brazil, but Bangkok's traffic was enough to convince me not to ride in a tuk-tuk for a taxi. We had no car seat for baby Sam, so Rodney just held him tightly and we tried not to watch out the window. While we were there, we heard that a pedestrian was killed everyday! I never tried to confirm that statistic, but I'd believe it!