Calendar Home
Previous Day

July 8, 2003

Next Day
Next stop: Ouro Preto, a famous gold town between Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. We arrived this morning after riding a luxurious overnight bus (buses in Brazil are expensive compared to other SA countries, about $40 US for an overnight ride). This region of Brazil, the southeastern Minas Gerais state, contrasts dramatically with the rest of Brazil. Rich colonial towns dot the cool mountainsides, their grandeur born in the 18th century during the Brazilian gold boom. The 18th century must have been good for Brazil - rubber boom in the north and gold boom in the south.
Our guidebook says Ouro Preto is the best of the Brazilian gold boom towns. Many elements enliven the town such as baroque architecture, cobbled streets, and sculptures from Brazil's leading artist, Aleijandinho.
We toured an old gold mine. Slaves were forced to sleep, work, and die in these mines under hazardous conditions. This particular mine had a better history than most. A tribal chief from Africa bought his freedom and then that of his entire tribe, formed a commune, and raised enough money to buy this mine.
Because it's supposed to be tough for rich people to enter heaven, every block showcases an elaborate church.