Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ouro Preto, Brasil

Two days later I woke up before dawn to the comforting sound of a heavy rain through our wide open window. The fan whirled fast above our heads pulling cool air into the room. I snuggled deeper into bed happy I didn't have to wake up just yet. After dawn we had a nice, hot shower, bought provisions at the grocery store and hopped aboard a bus to Rio. The scenery from the high, mountain roads was unbelievable and we hoped and prayed the weather would get better when we returned to the uninhabited coast to camp. We arrived at the Rio bus terminal and walked into a mad house. People rushing by in every direction, stopping in front of you, cutting in line - we finally got our tickets and claimed a few seats preparing to wait for the next 12hours until our bus boarded at midnight. Our afternoon was broken up at one point when a nice boy from Oregon chatted with us for a few hours. Our talks about travel turned into him giving us a briefing of all the news we had missed over the last 2 months.

After another uncomfortable and short nights sleep on a bus we awoke in a daze in Ouro Preto at 6 en la manana. The early morning air was still cool and fresh as the mist rose up out of the hills. We walked quietly down the cobblestone streets taking in the numerous Baroque churchs that punctuated each hill top. We soon discovered that the historic center is built on a network of very old, very steep paths turned modern day cobble routes as we worked up a sweat traversing from one expensive pousada to the next, all the while trying to dodge an early rising bum who was hard at work bothering us. We finally settled on a nice, colonial pousada who knocked her price down $20 reais after we rejected the first room. I went straight to the bothersome task of washing most of my clothes in the shared bathroom sink. When I finished, a woman who worked there was trying to tell me something which I of course didn't understand, smiled and left her to lay my clothes out in the room.

Being awake enough we headed out. The lovely town straight out of the past aside from the cars the whizzed by only to get stuck in their automatics on the steep, skinny roads, was just waking up. We hiked from church to church and then over to a mine that's run straight out of this family's home right in town. The guided tour was a hard hat and a 7 year old kid who spoke no Ingles but led the way. Claustrophobic and barely lit, we ducked our way to the end of one tunnel, turned back and headed down the last one. The boy, who walked perfectly upright the whole way, skipped ahead and climbed through a tiny hole which Nate declined but I went for. With just me and the kid and two raggedy paths that headed up, I pointed if you could go up there and he nodded. Feeling a little hot and panicked I disappointingly turned back but gave the kid a reais for a tip which he seemed surprised and happy about. He ran out of the cave, jumped into his father's lap and showed him the reais. Blushing, he was congratulated and praised.

After a long previous day and a brief and bad nights sleep on the bus, we went back to the room to 'read and watch TV' but passed out hard on top of our belongings with the door wide open for the rest of the afternoon. When I finally awoke and went downstairs I was confronted again by the laundry lady who seemed irritated. Luckily, a man who spoke broken English translated that it was "impossible!" for me to lay the clothes in the room and that they had a clothes line. We were kinda irked that they went into our room when we were gone and couldn't make the effort to walk me back to the clothesline when it is so obvious that I have no idea what anyone is saying. So with no problem, I walked through rows of bright white sheets to hang my dirty, black clothing at the end. In the evening we headed out and sat in the central plaza people watching and eating corn on the cob from a street cart. Tough like corn on the cob you feed farm animals and wrapped in a sheet of husk to keep your hands clean - he has a big sal shaker and butter brush for you to apply as he adds vanilla to the water, enhancing the smell of corn. For dinner we had big, cheap, delicious sandwiches that are all over Brasil and went to bed after Woody Woodpeckers episodes with the cool air blowing in our wide open window.

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