Parasol Days

The 21st of June came, and we were still below the equator. In Belo Horizonte the nights were chilly and cool days marked the beginning of winter.  When we left for the airport, it was just 13C, 55F. When we arrived a few hours later in Belem (state of Pará, Brazil), it was 29C, 85F. The low temperature at night was warmer than the day temperatures in Belo. Still, we had not crossed the equator into summer. Belem sits just south of Latitude 0 and the mouth of the Amazon River. The first week of April in Iquitos, Peru was the last time we had weather this hot.

With rain predicted every day, we carried our trusty umbrellas. Often at noon, there would not be a cloud in the sky. With few awnings, the shadows disappeared from the streets.  I opened by umbrella and Voila, it was a parasol. Some of my photos capture these hot days and some of the old mansions from the 1890s. Note on naming, Belem is named after the city where Jesus Christ was born, in English, Bethlehem.

Beautiful Horizons

The story of the name of Belo Horizonte Brazil proclaims that the founders, looking for a more central location to establish a central capital in the state of Minas Gerais, came to an area that was lined with a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys. Thus a beautiful horizon. In truth, it was a modern planned city inaugurated as City of Minas (Mines) in 1897.  Only in 1906 was Minas was renamed Belo Horizonte.

The are many museums in Belo or as locals say BH, (Beh-Ah-Gah in Portuguese. Many of them are free for seniors, even foreign seniors). One we really enjoyed was the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Museu de Artes e Oficios. In this case the crafts are the traditional pre-industrial revolution farm and village crafts such as weaving, milling, furniture making, and cachaça brewing. I took lots of pictures of looms, but forgot to get one of a hardwood gear wheel, where the cogs were separate pieces of wood. This allowed replacement of a broken gear instead of labor ing on a whole new replacemnt wheel. The working examples of the Brazil wood machines shows the durability of that wood once shaped.   


This post is a little awkward as I post from a tablet, not from the PC.  Some of the sharing options are missing.   

How to be a Carioca (step one)

In 1992, Priscilla Ann Goslin published the book How to be a Carioca. We found a discount copy (the cover was printed upside down) when we lived in Brazil during 1994.  Oddly, her biography states she was born near Sand Lake, Minnesota. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe it is a personal joke in her family, or maybe it is a means of keeping anonymity as there are a lot of Sand Lakes. To me, born near Lake Winnibigoshish sounds better.

What one learns from this book is that the Carioca (resident of Rio de Janeiro Brazil) is the original “happy-go-lucky” spirit, where “no” is not an option, “on time” is a concept of Einstein physics, and the letter “s” is pronounced with inflexion.

So the first step to being a Carioca is to go to Rio de Janeiro.  We were there for ten days hitting lots of iconic tourist venues around the Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açucar) and the Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer).  We also met up with our friend Jose Antonio who we had not seen for 25 years.  He took us around to some really interesting spots like the National Library, coffee at the Colombo, unique restaurants. It is his knowledge of so many fascinating stories that made our trip unique and let his Carioca character shine.

Here are a few photos we snapped along the way.

We spent one morning looking at street art in the renovated port area.  Some are just amazing.

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One of the largest murals in the world for the Brazil Olympics
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French Patronage Exhibition

In one typical Carioca outing, JA spontaneously encouraged three others we met in a parking lot to continue up to Pedra Bonita. This twenty minute hike turned out to be a pretty arduous hour climb for me.  We walked down in the night and were trying to figure out how to get back to civilization when a car pulled up and asked us where we wanted to go.  We were six, so five in the back, and one in front (wife crammed on my lap). The driver knew all the best spots to see Rio at night.  It all worked out, even listening to traditional samba, and nothing was planned. In his way, JA knew it would all work out.  Amazing. And the hike? I would do it twice more. New friends, old friends, hang gliders, hidden views, thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Step 2. Go find a Carioca and go with the flow.


Sao Paulo: Highrises and Street Art

We stayed one week in Sao Paulo, Brazil having a base near the Anhangabau, a central point which allowed us to walk to many familiar places like Liberdade, Se, Luz, Republica. This was the first time staying right in the heart of Sao Paulo.

We were able to meet up with an ex colleague from my time in International Support.  It had been almost 25 years.

We enjoyed searching out interesting vistas.  Here are some examples. One note on Beco do Batman, a couple of small streets dedicated to street art.  Around the football world cup, the residents / artists got fed up with the noise, vandalism from too many tourists that they repainted the walls grey.