Thursday, October 27, 2011
Last friday I had my plane ticket printed, no hostels booked, 100 reals in my pocket, my backpack and my camera. I had nothing planned and neither did my friends James. We got on the plane scanning through a tourist book to at least help us get to the bus we needed to take to go to downtown and 30 minutes later I was unconscious sleeping in a very uncomfortable seat because I slept 4 hours the night before. An hour later we arrive to Belo Horizonte, its pouring rain and I only have flip flops, shorts and of course, I forgot to bring a jacket once again. Meteorology is horrible in Brazil. But it was fine because I didn't have to worry about it for at least one more hour, the duration of the bus ride from the airport to downtown area.
I have always considered myself a pretty lucky girl, luck always finds my way and this weekend proved it once again! It didn't rain once we got to downtown. So we began our backpacking experience. My friend is majoring in history and economics; the city is the third largest city in Brazil and is essential to Brazil's economy; I was just looking for something different to do during the weekend and the mix ended up being perfect for me, I had a free tour guide in a city with a lot of things to do.
The first day we basically walked around in circles looking at buildings, eating good food, getting on a boat that was very much sinking and could clearly NOT fit three people in it, yet the "boat man" said it was totally fine, as long as he could get another 3 reals more from the gringos, but everything was fine, we all survived the boat ride, no one got wet and most importantly, my friends got to rest from me screaming, "Please stop rowing. Please don't turn!" That day I came to the conclusion that I don't like being on a boat at the verge of sinking. Still, the adventure continued. We still had no hostel and we had 3 hours until it got dark. First, we stopped at the most expensive, luxurious one with the hopes that they would like our personalities and give us a discount and then after an hour of looking for a place to sleep in we settled for a cheap, under-construction, cute hotel in front of a park. That night we celebrated the fact that luck was with us in this trip and we headed to a very popular bar avenue in downtown, I mean we were in Brazil's bar capital, it would've been wrong if we didn't and it was great!
On our second day, after a long night of not sleeping because our room was facing the LOUDEST street in the city. We were out and ready to visit all the museums, monuments and once again look for a place to stay in. It was raining, so the walk was not very pleasant, but the museums we went to were breathtaking and the city was beautiful. After drinking some coffee, we called the hostel and they had two beds available for the night, so naturally, we went to another museum and waited until the last minute to check-in, we took the metro ( interesting transportation method) and the view that welcomed us was terrifying, two huge abandoned buildings taken over by low income families, one was burned and the other was in "stable" conditions, we had hopes that the reviews in hostelworld.com were right so we continued on until we found the hostel. Let me say this with all honesty, best hostel ever! Ran by a french couple, free internet, cute books to read, amazing view of the city and most importantly it smelled great!! That night, we went out once again, but with the strangest man as our companion. Too serious, too knowledgeable and so difficult to take seriously at the same time... it was a fun night after a couple of beers.
For a city that most Brazilians called ugly or the last place I would visit in Brazil, it blew my mind. The history of it was scouring out of the walls and buildings transforming it into a very likable city. The friendliest Brazilians live there and the magic of it will only make me want to go against most of the Brazilians I know by saying, "I really recommend you visit this city."