Friday, November 7, 2008


Last weekend we decided to make the 4 hour road trip North to Diamantina, Minas Gerais. We left Saturday morning and arrived in the colonial mining town around lunchtime. It's a bit more remote than many of Minas Gerais' other colonial cities, but it was well worth the effort to get there. It is situated among steep mountains with a decidedly unique rockiness to them. Diamond mining was the most common activity here in the 1700's and the city is quite rich in history.

Halfway there Saturday morning we realized that neither one of us had grabbed the camera - thank goodness for camera phones or else we would have walked away from the weekend pictureless!

Like all the historical towns, there are some really pretty churches.

This is the pousada we stayed at. It is in a historical building and has its own museum and plenty of antique furniture.

Casa da Glória is one of the famous landmark buildings in Diamantina. Built on both sides of the street and connected by this enclosed passageway, the extremely large house was built for the diamond supervisors to live in. Today it is a geology institute. You are able to tour parts of it now and it is amazingly huge!

A shot of Diamantina from high on a hilltop.

Back in the 1700's when diamond, gold, and gemstone mining was booming in Minas Gerias, there was a need for a road connecting all the mining towns to the coast. (The Portuguese king needed to be able to get all his goodies.) Part of the old road has been reconstructed just outside of Diamantina. It's called Caminho dos Escravos, which translates to Road of the Slaves. It, rather obviously, gets its name from the fact that the stone-paved path through the mountainous landscape was built with slave labor.

Before we left to head back on Sunday afternoon, we headed over to Parque Estadual de Biribiri. After driving a long time on winding, rough dirt roads, crossing several rickety old bridges, and finding out just how much the Punto is not built for off-paved-road adventures, we parked and walked across this bridge and down a path to a waterfall. (Be not afraid of the foot bridge - it seemed much sturdier than many of the structures we drove across.)

And here we arrive at Cachoeira dos Cristais. It was wonderfully serene with only the sound of the splashing water. We didn't go for a swim, since we were going to have to drive 4+ hours home afterwards, but it would have been awesome! The water was nice and cool and the air temperature was about 187 degrees. (Use whatever units you want on that - man it was HOT!)

After the waterfall, we continued on to the historical town of Biribiri. (Which you totally need to hear a Minereiro say to completely enjoy the name. I am grinning now just thinking about the big ol' park ranger saying it as he told us about the area on our way into the park!) It's a tiny little, supposedly quite historical, city, but I haven't been able to find out a lot about its history. There is one itty bitty restaurant there though and we sat at a table out in the grass under a shade tree and enjoyed some pot roast before heading home.

We've both totally been in a traveling/exploring mood lately and so we've been trying to get out of Belo Horizonte and take some little weekend trips while we easily can. The fact that I'll be entering my last trimester when we return from our holidays in the US has us feeling a little like our window of opportunity for just getting up and going at the drop of a hat is diminishing a bit! :)

I'm not sure what all this weekend will hold in store for us, but I think we'll stick around town. My Hubby Dearest has graciously agreed to take me to O Quebra-Nozes (The Nutcracker) performed by the Moscow City Ballet Company which is in BH this Saturday and Sunday! (And the Orquestra Sinfônica de Minas Gerais will be playing too.) I haven't seen The Nutcracker in years and I think it's pretty safe to assume Eric has never seen it - so I am really excited! Is it too early to sign Z Baby up for ballet? I think it is going to take me back to my days of dance classes and ballet recitals and then I'll start missing it and then I'll remember that I'm about to have a daughter and hey oh yea I can live vicariously through her. Hmmm, I do hope my kid wants to take ballet . . .


Bru said...

Hey Emily! I feel sooooo embarassed when I read about your trips. In less than a year you probably got to know more brazilian cities than I did in 25! Good thing is that I am beginning to catch up on it, trying to get a good pousada at Ilha Grande for the 20-23/11 long weekend. I fell in love with it after I saw the pictures of your trip!

Marcio Pareto said...

"Biribiri. (Which you totally need to hear a Mineiro say to completely enjoy the name." Hehehe, funny! Any other word???
This weekend there is the Festival de Jabuticaba de Sabará. Sabará is a city with some colonial area, it's like 30min from Lourdes. It's a quick trip, to enjoy in one day only, and this weekend you'll be able to eat all kinds of food made with jabuticaba fruit.

Emily said...

Bru: you can be embarassed if you want, but now I'm just jealous! Ilha Grande is so awesome! I would love to make it back there - but there are so many other places I want to see as well! Too much to see, not enough time to see it all! I told my husband's boss we really need like 3 months of (paid) vacation time per year while we're down here - haven't had much luck with that yet though. ;)

Marcio: Oh, there's an endless supply of words that I love to hear Brasilians (especially Mineiros!) say. Like ANY word when they put -inho/-inha at the end of it. For example, everyone is so excited about my menininha and loves my barriginha. (Which is so much nicer than talking about my barrigão! hehehe)

We just might have to go check out the Jabuticaba (another fun word) this weekend! I've been enjoying them fresh and I'm sure they make some awesome stuff with it! Thanks for the tip!

Márcio Pareto said...

Oh, let me correct it: The festival is in the next weekend (15 and 16). Sorry!
Se conseguir ir, não deixe de comprar ao menos um pote de geléia de jabuticaba! Alguns gostam também do licor... Conheci uns alemães que bastava dizer "jabuticaba" para eles rirem. De tempos em tempos eles pediam pra gente falar, ehehehe.

Beth said...

Hey Emily,

Not to discourage you but when Lillie (she turned 4 last week), was on the way. Mama and Rachel both said they would pay for Ballet, I am sure they pictured a precious ballerina. Well, she refuses to go, we went to a recital to encourage her, it freaked her out!

So now she asks everyday if she can play soccer. Instead of a ballerina, we have a future soccer player. Maybe you will get a ballerina!

Glad things are going well with Baby Z! Any names yet? Or is that a secret?

Take Care,

Anonymous said...

I love looking at all the pictures that you post of MG! It makes me excited to travel there!! It is definetly beautiful! Though the 187 degrees makes me nervous!!

Justin said...

Those are some pretty impressive photos from a camera phone. Some day I'll have to learn how to get the pictures from my phone onto a computer...

AcesHigh said...

haha, I actually tried to convert that fahrenheit temperature to celcius, just to discover it was obviously, just a figure of speech, since 86 celcius is impossible weather.

Ray Adkins said...


Your trips around Brazil sound amazing, principally Minas, you guys have so much energy, that is great.
Our favorite trip in Brazil up to this day was "Cidades Historicas" in Minas, we still talk about it and want to go back!
That "Festival de Jabuticaba" sounds cool too, have fun.


Brii said...

Ummmm...your child will most DEFINITELY be taking ballet. End of discussion.

Richard said...

It sounds exciting! I am also a farm boy, though from South Africa and my wife and I are thinking of relocating to Brazil, and guess what? I am in the diamond business, which made this post all the more interesting to me. Is there some way in which we can correspond?

Anonymous said...

I love Diamantina!
I always stay at Casa da Glória, since I study Geology in UFMG!
Very nice pictures!

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