Back in November 2007, shortly after our arrival here, we set out on a mission to find a nativity scene. We were certain Brasil would be just the place to find a great handmade set. And well over a year later, after searching through two Christmas seasons, we hadn't found anything we liked. Everything was either too brightly painted, or too plain, or too small, or didn't have enough detail.
And then on Saturday, we walked into a small shop next to the Basílica in Congonhas and guess what I saw . . .
It was pretty much exactly what we were looking for. The clay-formed pieces have some size to them (the men are between 10-12" tall), and they are minimally painted with a neutral color and just a few gold accents here and there. And maybe the best part: we bought the entire set for R$130 (less than US$60)!