Brazil 16


On the 6th of June we left Sao Joao Del Rei and head northeast towards the historic town of Ouro Preto.  The first small town we passed through was Entre Rios de Minas.


One of the many churches that we see today.

I know, as I type this report, that heart problems are coming for Sandy in the next week, and I reflect on how much she was enjoying the ride.

We talked often about how lucky we have been, with all the neat sights and people.

The next city on the way to Ouro Preto was "Congonhas do Campo".  This place is not a tourist destination.  It was a little rough around the edges, but we had 4 "Then and Now's" from Congonhas.  This Basilica had 12 sculptures which were like no other church we have seen!  And it sat on a hill top over looking the city!



I do not know why, but this is one of my favorite pictures.  I love all types of palm trees.



The first "Then and Now" was of the Basilica of Congonhas.  It was fairly easy to find, as it sat on the top of a hill overlooking the city.  It was from the 1939 book, "Travel in Brazil".


The original picture from 1939.
It is hard to see ANY change, other than the paint is fresher, and the cobblestone is smoother!
And the skies were much clearer!

From the same book of 1939, were pictures of the "Capelas dos Passos da Paix„o de Cristo", which sat directly below the Basilica.  I need to do some homework and figure out exactly what these were, and why they are there.  We felt a bit unsafe here, so we tried to get in and out quickly.


These little buildings were all over the hillside, and it was difficult to figure out which ones were the right ones. 

As I walked around, I am sure that I looked confused, which was one reason we left quickly.

There were many new building, but I think these were the correct buildings (from the "Then and Now's") based on the angles, the ridge line (mountains) in the far background, and the one TaLL palm tree.
Check out the one tall palm tree, then scroll back and look at the same tree in 1939.

Much taller in 2007!

The location of the base of the tree, in relationship to the building seems to indicate that these where the correct buildings.


Now I am totally confused.  Regarding the one tall palm tree, as I look at the "Then and Now's" more closely (above)....... The palm tree looks like a different type of palm tree.  The "Old" palm looks like a "Feather Leaf" palm and the "New" palm is a "Fan Leaf" palm.  But the new palm must have been planted in the exact same spot!


Again, from 1939, this was a picture of the Basilica from nearly a mile away.  Very frustrating, as Sandy and I went up and down every street in the hills of Congonhas, from where this picture was taken, but there was too much change, and the original buildings in the near field of the photo where not located, or they do not exist.  We took nearly 50 pictures from all over the hill, and this was probably where the original was taken from, but the buildings are all different, except the Basilica.  Notice the tall palm trees near the Basilica, in the old and new photograph.





From Vera Kelsey's book of 1940, "Seven Keys of Brazil", we had this picture of the back side of the Basilica. 

Replicating this picture was very frustrating, as it was obviously shot through a "doorway".


Notice the shape of the top of the doorway....
This was "for sure" the doorway.

I tried for an hour, to gain access to the building, but it was a complete failure.

The building was totally secured.  Behind the building was a library. 

I took the "Old" picture into the library, but got so frustrated after 1/2 hour of trying to communicate what I wanted, 

I left in frustration.

I have to learn Portuguese!

Again, the "Then" picture.
And the "Now".

If you look at the crosses and other things on the top of the Basilica, you can see I was within 2 to 3 feet of where "Vera" once stood, but not exactly!

I wonder if "Vera Kelsey", the books author, spoke Portuguese?

I also know from the angles of where everything lines up, Vera was either short or bent down to take the picture!

And in color!

As I sit in the hotel, in Belo Horizonte (on the 15th of June) posting these pictures, I realize what a great sport Sandy has been, to bounce around South America on the back of a 16 year old BMW.

She stood by the motorcycle for over an hour, while I ran all over the hill trying to get the "New" pictures!


After taking the four "Then and Now's" in Congonhas, we finished the days ride to the historic city of Ouro Preto.  Our first impression was "Beautiful City" ruined by "Tourism".  Every 30 seconds somebody would step in front of the motorcycle and try and "Hawk" a hotel room, or jewelry  store, or restaurant, or a tour guide.  It was very frustrating to visit 8 hotels (with a guide that told us he knew where there was a room that was available), and they had no rooms available.  We finally told him to get lost (well, maybe not quit that nice), and we went to the Grande Hotel of Ouro Preto.  More on that later. 


This was the view from our hotel room.
Looking down from our balcony.
Telephoto from Balcony.

I do like "Modern" architecture.  But it has it's place, and in the middle of Ouro Preto, a large hotel that looks like it was built in the 1960's looked out of place.  But we needed a room, so Sandy went in and they said they had "One" suite available.  It was a 2 story, 3 bedroom suite.  I was upset at first, but it was better then sleeping in the streets.  When I entered the hotel, I discovered that it was a "Oscar Niemeyer" building.  The most famous architect in all of Brazil!  And this building was not built in the 1960's, but in 1935!  It was one of the first buildings designed by Oscar.  You either "Love or Hate" Oscar Niemeyer's bold, cold and modern designs.  The fact that this building was designed and built more than 30 years before this style became popular really highlighted to me how much ahead of his time Oscar was!


This was a large picture, in the lobby of the Hotel, of Oscar Niemeyer, standing on the balcony of a room of the hotel, back in 1995.

We were in the "huge suite" and it looked like this picture was taken in our room, but the angles were off just a little.

We went to the front desk and asked for the keys to the room next to ours.

Sandy standing on the balcony of room 5, on June 7th, 2007.

It was a MATCH!

If Oscar Niemeyer can have his name on the picture, so can Sandy!

This is the Grande Hotel.  On the left side of the hotel, on the patio shown here, is where we had breakfast every morning. 

Our room was on the far right side of the hotel.  (Grande Hotel (Ouro Preto))



This next picture was taken directly from our balcony. 

The main building in the lower part of the picture is now a museum.

 The building use to be a "mint" (Casa dos Contos).



On the 7th of June, we hear church bells ringing. 

I look at my watch and it is 8:10 am.

Why are the bells ringing at 10 minutes after the hour.

15 minutes later the bells are still ringing.

I finally look out the window and a religious procession is going down the street.

Not sure what the procession was for, but it went from church to church through the streets of Ouro Preto.

Being in this town is like "Living in a Museum".

The bells rang constantly for over an hour!

I thought this was a "Kodak Moment".

As we followed the procession we found some of the "Then and Now" locations. 

The church behind Sandy has over 900 pounds of Gold Leaf!



Kids are angels here in Ouro Preto.

As we followed the procession, nearly every window had a blanket or quilt hanging from the window.

Do not know why....

Sure wished we knew the significance of the procession.
Even though it is an "Old" city, there are signs of the 21st century.
As we walked along in the procession, the moon was at the perfect angle for pictures.

I took nearly 100 pictures of old buildings, with the moon overhead.

Here is one......


What was really neat about this procession, is Sandy and I seemed like the only tourist, which makes watching the event something very special! 

Nearly every balcony had a "local" watching the parade.  Note, again, the quilts.



She seemed sincerely moved by the parade.....



There were many "Angels" in Ouro Preto!



There are 12 bridges in Ouro Preto, that were constructed in the 1700's, which are still in use today.

Below the cross is a stream which flows though the city.

You try your best to capture pictures of architecturally interesting buildings and people walk right through the scenes!
Taking pictures is very frustrating when you are hampered by women in tight jeans!
We walked by the train station, as the steam engine left town.

We purchased tickets for the 9th of June.

Destination: "Mariana, Brazil".


I will continue with the Then and Now's of Ouro Preto on "Brazil 17".


For "Brazil 15"  hit the "Back Button".....       For "Brazil 17" hit the "Next Button"....


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