Friday, June 8, 2012

Next stop -- Belo Horizonte -- Part 1

Our next stop is a good days travel and as we drive along I calculate that this will be the eighth state capital I will have visited in Brazil. Belo Horizonte.  Located in the state of Minas Gerais,  Belo Horizonte (also known as B.H. - similar to L.A. for Los Angeles) is the third largest metropolitan area in Brazil with just over 3.4 million residents.  I am excited to see what this city has to offer.
We start off from the beach and first have to back track a little towards Sao Paulo.  Before we merge onto the "imigrantes highway" we pass through the Cubatao Valley.  This small area is packed with industries and oil refineries.  It holds the nickname of "Valley of Death" as it is the most
polluted region in Brazil and one of the most polluted areas in the world.  Although the federal government has spent over a million dollars to assist in cleaning it up,  the region's pollution problems still prevail.  As we drive through the valley the factories can only be seen by the smoke stacks protruding from the tree tops and it is obvious there is a lot of industry here by the amount of trucks transporting their goods.  For such a beautiful valley,  it is hard to believe there is such a pollution problem lying beneath all this green.  It is truly a gorgeous area with hidden dangers.
Soon we are back on "imigrantes highway" heading into Sao Paulo, fortunately we make it through the city with very little traffic.  We do pass under some roadways that I had forgotten to mention when we left the city a couple days ago.  All throughout Sao Paulo there is construction of a roadway
system in the sky.  At first I thought they were building an above ground train system like the L in Chicago, buy after further investigation it is obvious that the bus companies hold a lot of power in the city.  These roadways in the sky are for the bus lines transporting people from place to place and not trains like I first thought.   Seems like a train would be more efficient and less costly to construct but then again I have not been a part of the prior discussion.  The massive roadway system is surely impressive as you maneuver the streets below.
The road from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte is through the mountains and hills filled with twists and turns but at least it is all four lane roads.  We take a lunch brake at a truck stop a little after noon. It is filled with trinkets to buy,  props for photo taking and it has a nice buffet for our stomachs including some foods from this region of Brazil.    The rest of the afternoon is filled with riding along enjoying the beautiful terrain in this part of the country but it is getting dark and we wanted to get to our destination and find our hotel before the sun sets.  
We arrive at the edge of Belo Horizonte around five thirty and traffic is quite busy.  It is a Friday night and as   the sky become dark,  we are stuck in traffic inching along.  My first impressions if B.H. are -- huge city - kind of dirty -- lots of graffiti -- people everywhere -- and there is no traffic administration cause it is terribly
congested.   We finally get to the street of our hotel and begin to worry a little as the neighborhood does not look very appealing at this time of night.  There is no street parking so in our search we pass by the hotel a couple of times before we stop and Luiz runs in.  The hotel parking is only a couple of blocks away and we find out that the volume of traffic is due to a protest downtown which has several streets blocked off and has brought in more pedestrians then a usual Friday night.   We check in and are pleasantly surprised by the interior or the hotel.  Yes,  the elevator can only handle three people at a time and it often does not stop on the level with the floor you want leaving a small step up or down to exit.  But the hallways are large with tall ceilings reminding me of the old Rembrandt School where I attending grade K-6th.  The room is large with a nice size bath
and air conditioning.  A pleasant surprise and probably the best hotel we stayed at on this trip.  We drop off our things and head out to a street only a few blocks away lined with restaurants and bars where we will meet up with Luiz and Junior's friend Renaldo. After ordering some local cuisine, Renaldo and his entourage arrive,.  the Brazilians catch up a bit and soon it is time to sleep and see what the city has to offer during the daylight!! Exhausted after a travel day we depart from friends and head back to the hotel for a good night sleep!!!
To Read Part 2 - CLICK HERE

small village on our route 

To Read Part 2 - CLICK HERE

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