Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015: Belo H to Inhotim, Brazil and Flight Home

Arrangements had been made for a driver and car to take us on a two hour drive to the location of Inhotim an internationally known botanical gardens of native and exotic species interspersed with pieces of art and pavilions containing works of art.

As we left Belo traffic was heavy on a 3 lane highway, but we maneuvered that with no issues.  We had driven about 1 ½ hours on great roads, when we realized our driver did not know where he was going! Plus the signage was not well placed.  We literally went 45 km past the road that we were supposed to turn onto!  After asking the second person for directions, there was nothing we could do but retrace our path.  Well this would not have been so bad however there was heavy construction on the return lanes of traffic so our progress was slow.  We crawled along in the construction area for 45 minutes!  We arrived at Inhotim 2 hours after our planned time of arrival!!     
Brazilian Countryside

Throughout the 5000 acres of gardens are pieces of art standing alone or in a total of 24 galleries/pavilions spread throughout the park.  A lot of the art was extremely modern which is really not our style, but we loved the landscaping, plants, trees, 5 lakes, etc.  It is a very unique place. 

An iron ore mining magnate who made his fortune in the 1990’s, transformed an old mine site into a luxuriant botanic gardens, and in the middle of the wild vegetation had created one of the world’s most thrilling museums of contemporary art.  The development of the park continues to expand each year.   
A Pavilion near a Reflecting Pond

One of the many Art Pieces interspersed throughout the Park

Rachel on a very Unique Bench

A very large Elephant Ear Plant

A Friendly Squirrel

A Panorama of one of the Lakes

One of the walking bridges

We are on a strict time schedule today.  We left Inhotim at 2:00, hoping to be home before 4:00 to shower and finish packing before leaving for the international airport.  Our flight leaves Belo after 9:00 pm, but we have an hour drive to the airport and need to be there 3 hours before our international flight to Miami.  When we returned to the Capparelli home, Mr. & Mrs. Capparelli, Pedro’s wife, children and her Mother, and Pedro’s brother were all there to say goodbye.  The Capparelli family were wonderful hosts, even though Pedro was in Saudi Arabia.  We had a great time with them, their extended family and their friends.  The same driver who drove us to Inhotim earlier in the day, also drove us to the airport. The three hour wait at the airport seemed to drag on, however we did leave for Miami on time.
Part of the Capparelli Family

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015: Belo to Ouro Preto and Mariana on a Tour

Breakfast is scheduled for 7:00 as we are leaving the house at 7:25 to be picked up by a tour company at the front gate between 7:30 & 7:45.  Of course it was 7:45 before a large van arrived, but we still wanted to be at the gate ready to go. After driving a little way, we stopped at a hotel in the city where we transferred to a larger 20 passenger bus. A bus full of tourist took off for a 1 ½ hr drive to Ouro Preto. The guide on the bus did not know much English, just enough to tell us what time to be at the bus.

Once we left Belo Horizonte the topography became hillier.  It was amazing. There is nothing flat in this part of Brazil.  You can see mines (iron ore) in almost every direction you look.  It was great to be out of the city to see the rural area. The town of Ouro Preto (Portuguese for black gold) came into being all due to mining – gold mining from 1711-1888 (when the slaves were freed).  A lot of gold was used in the churches located in town. 

We toured 3 churches.  At each of the three churches an English speaking guide showed up – otherwise we would have missed a lot of information. At one point they gave us time to eat lunch.  We picked up something light so we had time to see more of this very mountainous town. Walking was not the easiest – over cobbled stone streets or up and down steps.  I don’t know what handicapped people do in this part of Brazil (even Belo Horizonte)

San Francisco de Assis Church

Close-up above the door

Ceiling Painting on Wood
Cemetery beside the Church

N. S. do Pilar Church

Interior of the Pilar Church

Ceiling of the Church
Nearby Craft Market

Views of Ouro Preto

Steep Streets
N. S. do Carmo

Views of Ouro Preto

Very Steep Street

City Hall

Central Park
Other Churches in Ouro Preto

After lunch we toured part of a gold mine.  The story of African slaves working in gold mines is horrific. They were definitely not treated as human beings and their living conditions were horrible. Mining operations in Brazil went on for years.  The gold was shipped back to Portugal (the mother country); however most of the gold ended up in England.  Portugal used the gold to pay their debts to England!

Gold Mine

Our next stop was the town of Marianna where we toured another church.  We were not allowed to take any photos in any of the churches – will need to get photos from the internet. The artist used a lot of local soapstone for elaborate carvings.  The wooden ceilings were all painted – some by an artist considered the Michelangelo of South America.

Marianna Cathedral Basilica da Se

Marianna City Square

N. S. do Carmo (left) and San Francisco (right)

N.S. do carmo

San Francisco

By the time we left Marianna it was dusk and we had the 1 ½ hour drive back to Belo. After returning to the apartment we quickly showered and changed clothes as we were going with our host to a birthday party for a sister-in-law (the gal who hosted us Monday morning).  We again met all the friends we had met on Saturday night plus a few more.  These Brazilians are so generous with their hospitality.