Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2000 9:40 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Feb. 25-29, 2000: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Current Date/Location: Saturday, March 4, 2000...Salvador, Brazil.
Current Itinerary: CARNIVAL!
Feb. 25, 2000 (Fri):
Arrived at 5:30pm into Belo Horizonte off the 22 hour bus from Campo Grande. The bus ride had been uneventful, except for one image that I can´t forget. We had stopped for lunch at a big truckstop. I was sitting inside
eating, and looked out the window and saw a really cool juxtaposition. I saw a horse with a cart "parked" infront of the gaspumps. I took a double-take, and I guess the driver had just stopped in to get something, but it was a grand visual image to see this horse standing infront of the gas pumps. I started to get up to take a picture, but the driver returned and they trotted off...but it had been an interesting glimpse of how the new and old are in motion side by side here in Brazil.
I called my friend Giovanni from the bus station, and shortly he arrived to get me. We walked for awhile in the downtown and then caught a bus to his house. His family lives in an apartment (note...I guess you have figured
out that MANY families live in apartments here in Brazil...often they are preferred above houses. Somewhat a divergence from the "American Dream" of everyone in a house...Brazillians usually prefer apartments for the
closeness and security they provide.) near the center of the city. I met his mother and brother, Lucca. They made me feel very at home, we had dinner, and then Giovanni and I were ready to rage!
Giovanni´s friend, Pedro, picked us up and we headed out to the hills. We ended up in an exclusive community where Pedro used to live and has lots of friends. We met some of his friends and then went to the country club where there was a DJ and dancing. We talked, danced and played pool (down here they call it snooker and have slightly different rules.) for quite awhile. I ended up partnering up with a girl who was a pretty good pool shark, and
we ended up holding the table for 4 or 5 games, it was fun. Got back to Giovanni´s house around 5am.
Feb. 26, 2000 (Sat):
Woke around 1pm...had lunch, watched futball, and basically didn´t do much until around 5pm. Then we headed out to a big block party (hmmm...interestingly enough, infront of the McDonalds...I actually can not believe the popularity of McDonalds in Brazil...they love it here.) where there would be a band called Banda Mole. It was supposed to give me a glimpse of what I would encounter in Salvador during Carnival.
Anyway, we arrived and the street was packed with young people. We found Giovanni´s friends and stood on the street and talked for quite awhile. Then, we went to a concert with Juliana and her friend. Foo Fighters had
been scheduled to play, but they had cancelled...that would have rocked...but cést la vie. We saw Tianasticia, a raggae band, and a Brazillian rap band called Charlie Brown, Jr. Security was somewhat different at this event...open seating and big mosh pits in the center of the floor, where only the young and exuberent were able to remain. Folks were climbing down from the upper level into the lower level...not just one or two...but hundreds were going over the side and dropping down...a security nightmare that no one seemed to care to stop.
We finally left during the end of Charlie Brown Jr.´s act...and we hopped in a taxi and headed back towards home. I ended up having quite a lively conversation with the cab driver who was driving like a bat outta hell...and ofcourse I was encouraging him! Anyway, he had a Banda Mole shirt on and a matching cap...I finally convinced him that he should trade his shirt for the one I was wearing...so at the end of the ride I was the new owner of a Banda Mole t-shirt and cap (which he threw in for the heck of it).
We were starving, so we sat at a well known corner sidewalk cafe for a cheap hamburger and conversation. This was one of the best hamburgers I had had on my entire trip! We ended up talking for a couple of hours, when Juliana
noticed a new customer ordering a hamburger...the lead singer for Charlie Brown Jr! Guess these hamburgers are well known, eh? Anyway, Juliana was all excited and Giovanni likes the band too, so I decided we needed to meet
this guy. When he walked by our table I broke into my perfect Portuguese and said that I enjoyed his show tonight. He instantly smiled, looked and me and said, "Oi, a Gringo, eh?"...hmmmm...I guess he detected some faint
accent in the inflections in my voice...somehow tipping him off that I am not a Brazillian...hmmm...hard to figure out how he knew. But anyway, he was nice enough and was pleased that we had enjoyed the show. We got him
and another bandmember to autograph our t-shirts and pose for a couple of pictures...ahhh...a brush with greatness in Brazil...sometimes it is good to be an foreigner...eh? We stayed and talked for awhile longer, and then headed for the casa...sometime around 4am.
Went to catch a taxi...4 of Giovanni's friends drove by at that exact moment and picked us up. They were nice enough to offer to drive us to Giovanni's house...which we accepted. Now, a group of 4 guys driving around at 4am is likely to be up to no good...and with the added crew of 2 more (including a gringo), they are likely to go looking for mischief. So, seeing as how we were in a slightly seedy part of town, they decided that we should stop and talk to the prostitutes along the way...so they pulled the car to the curb and they started asking prices and whether the girl liked Americans? Anyway...they finally had enough laughs and we got back on course and we arrived at home.
Crashed in the house around 5am.
Feb. 27, 2000 (Sun):
Abosolutely lazy day...woke sometime around 11am...watched too much TV...ate some lasagna for lunch...napped again until 6pm...just lazy as heck. We left the casa around 8pm with Pedro, picked up a friend, Cynthia, and headed
to a bar. It was packed and we couldn't get in, so we went to another sidewalk cafe. There, we met a bunch of their friends...stayed until about Midnight...back at the house, used the internet until 2am looking at my new
website that is now ONLINE!!! Again, many many many thanks to Nathan Malone for doing this project and being the ramrod that saw it through to completion (and keeping it updated). Needless to say, he is not paid or
compensated in anyway for his countless hours of work on this page and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to him (note...my dad also helped Nathan with the website on some of the more technical points...and my debt to my father
goes without saying...but, hey, I'll say it...Thanks to you too dad!).
Crashed around 2:30am...with only a few hours until we had to wake to go get
Agustin at the bus station.
Feb. 28, 2000 (Mon):
Woke at 6am...ughhhh! Ate quickly...packed my bag...then Giovanni and I headed to the bus station. We arrived about 20 minutes late...but hey, Agustin is from Mexico...for him, we probably arrived early!
We all hugged, and were very happy to all be together again (remember, Agustin, Giovanni, and I had all been in Florianopolis together for several days). Agustin and I bought our tickets for tomorrow (Tue) to Salvador...we
did not want to find that all the busses were sold-out...we had to get there! Then, we went to the Youth Hostel (no room in Giovanni's house for the both of us, which was OK.). Checked in...met a English girl, Sally, who
was also headed to Salvador. She needed to confirm her reservation there...so our walking, talking translator, Giovanni, sprang into action and called Salvador and confirmed everything for her...Brazillians are great,
eh! Anyway...the four of us (Sally, Giovanni, Agustin, and I) headed out to walk around the town.
We were looking for food, a place to wash my clothes, and most importantly...Coconut Milkshakes!!! Food was found at a local place...and for about 1.50USD I had all the coconut bread, meat pastries, and soft drinks that I could stand...ahhhh. Then we wandered around looking for a Self-serve Washing place for my dirty clothes...did not locate one in much looking...guess I will have to stink...hmmmm, it is becomming a common state for me...oh, well...continued to walk all over town...dirty clothes in hand...
We all went to Juliana's house...I tried to convince her that this was a machisto country and that she should wash my clothes for me...unfortunately, she has been too influenced by Western culture and she acted in a very feminist way and told me exactly where I could go with my clothes and what I could do with them...oh, well, it was worth a shot! (Smile). However, she was more than game to go with us on or quest...for a Coconut Milkshake! ...and she said she knew the best place in town.
So, we traipsed (sp?) across town (again) for awhile and finally got to a shop that would provide us with this favored elixir...the ever elusive Coconut Milkshake. Anyway, I ordered the largest one they had...700 ML...mmmmm...when it arrived, it not only had the milkshake in the cup, but coconut bits sprinkled on the top, and the rim had a cirle of melted marshmellow on it...it was probably the best Coconut Milkshake I have EVER HAD...it was TUPENDOUS! Ahhhhhhh... Burp.
Anyway, I practically cried when we decided to leave my new heaven on earth...but we had to go...
Visited Giovanni's favorite square, the Praca de Liberdade. Agustin and I went back to hostel for awhile. Swam in the pool...we had a great conversation and caught up on a lot...like old friends...really. I again benefitted from the diverse background from one of my learned colleagues...Agustin had worked in the Supreme Court of Mexico...and knows lots of cool stuff about Mexico. One of the more interesting tidbits was that I learned that President of Mexico needs written authorization from the Congress to leave the country...no kidding. Kinda like asking the teacher for a pass to go to the bathroom, eh? Ofcourse, usually it is merely a formality...but interesting, eh? Agustin said that most Mexicans don't know this...
Later that night we met Giovanni and Juliana and went to a cool place...Theatro Bellas Artes. It was a place that had some artsy fartsy movie theaters, and a cool bar with a live band. It also had a bookstore with artsy fartsy books, and several in English! I bought Steven Hawking's A Brief History of time (trying to understand some science and our universe...hmmm...wish me luck!). We had an absolutely great evening...the band grooved and it was just great...very old-school Brazillian tunes.
Feb. 29, 2000 (Tue-LEAP DAY!!!)
Headed to the historic city of Ouro Prieto (means Dark Gold in Portuguese). It is great! It is an old mining town (still has a University of Mining) that is in the mountains...lots of old churches on various hilltops. Cool stuff...really. We walked around the entire city...reminded me of a mining town I have visited in Colorado, Cripple Creek...but with lots more old churches and cobblestone streets.
We had a great day. One of the amazing things about this place is found in the Igreja de Nossa Denhora do Carmo and in the Museu do Aleijadinho...much of the works inside were carved by the famous Brazillian sculptor, Aleijadinho. They look pretty much like other ornate carvings that you would find in other parts...but what makes them stand out is the history that Aleijadinho was a leper...and had lost use of his hands...and had to work with hammer and chisel strapped to his wrists...amazing.
We also visited the Musum of Minerology. If you are a rock head, or rock hound, this place is for you! It is incredible...lots of rocks from all over the world...all beautifully displayed and identified. My father would go nuts here...hmmmm...maybe he will have to visit. Anyway, we were all impressed...even though we are not entirely fascinated by stones, this place was cool! Also showed some diagrams and small models of the machinery that
is designed to extract ores from the ground and then process them into the metals that we know and love...way above our heads...but it was nice to see.
We all returned to Belo Horizonte...and Agustin and I could hardly contain ourselves...we were ready to go to Carnival. We killed 2 hours...then we finally hopped on the bus for Salvador...CARNIVAL OR BUST!!!