Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
In The Rough”
|by Shane Jackson
that don’t know (I didn’t), Minas Gerais is a state in Brazil that is rich
in history and natural resources. Many may have heard of the historically
preserved cities Ouro Preto or Diamantina famed for gold, silver, diamonds
and other jewels found only here. Many have not heard of the national
parks and beautiful mountain ranges of Minas Gerais. It’s primary
population center is Belo Horizonte, a major center of commerce, agriculture,
and industry. I think it is the third largest city in Brazil.
I had the great fortune to be assigned to a project in southern Brazil
where I met a young lady from Minas Gerais. The project was over
too soon, I did not want to leave Brazil but that’s life in a 100 hr work
week, little sleep, bad food and plenty of stress.
babe came to see me in Mexico and I made trips to see her in Brazil as
time permitted. Next thing you know she’s pregnant! A first
for both of us.
At the consulate
in Rio she was denied a US tourist visa even though I came down for the
interview with her and had a letter from my employer. It became clear
we had to marry in order to get passports, visas, etc so we could travel
as a family. It’s not too complex but not that simple either, anyone
needing information on this process feel free to email me.
you know I am married in Brazil with baby to follow less than two months
later. Two nights in the hospital for the birth cost $333 US, or
less than one months [employer subsidized] health insurance premium in
We now live
in a middle-class suburb west of central Belo Horizonte called Contagem.
We purchased a new two level penthouse and furnished it for less than $50,000
We have a GREAT
view. Our maid is here 5 or 6 days a week, costs $100/month US plus
lunch and bus fare. Unlimited in home internet access costs about
is within walking distance: barber, manicurist, fresh produce, bakery,
butcher, dentist, pediatrician, pharmacy, grocery stores, health club,
language schools, modern shopping mall with cinema featuring english speak
American flicks, video stores with english speaking movies, restaurants,
you name it!
are cleaned daily in our bairro so the general Belo Horizonte trashiness
is not too bad here. For city living this is a good place…our
core cost of living for a family of 3 is about $6,000 US per year.
There is night
life if you want it…I’m told there are about 6 available women for every
1 available man…there do seem to be lots of pretty women here! People
are generally very friendly and relaxed, I’ve never felt threatened or
unwelcome. My Portuguese is now good enough I can make small talk
games take place here, the whole place goes bonkers for the big games.
very good and is called “Mineira,” not unlike US country cooking.
My favorite local dish is chicken with okra. Plenty of local cheeses,
fruit, veggies, and liquor. Local cigarettes are rolled in corn husk,
no filters. All you can eat barbeque (churrasco) is common
and good. My favorite meat here is pork, they are raised on a high
fruit diet and the meat is delicious! I have never had health problems
with food in Brazil.
health, there is a Yellow Fever Alert at our International Airport, you
should get vaccinated for it if you plan on coming here. There are
a few other recommended vaccinations, see your travel clinic. I’ve
heard of one case of dengue in the past year. City Sanitation actively
attempts to eradicate dengue altogether.
A car is not
required though they can be rented ranging from $300 to $700 per month.
We rented one to visit the local National Parks. Our favorite is
Serra do Cipo, about 2 hrs by car (there are 3 others that can be reached
in about 6 hours including Serra de Canastra which has already been featured
in “Escape from America” Magazine).
can take a bus to the parks for much less money and less stress…seems you
can take a bus anywhere in Brasil if you have the time.
There is an
international airport about an hour from down town Belo Horizonte (Confins
- CNF). American Air flies in and out once a day.
There is a
regional airport in town (Pampulha) , you can hop over to Rio de Janeiro
and see your US consulate for about $65 US one way. If you want
to drive to Rio, I’m told it’s about 6 hours.
All of our
Brazil Federal and State documents have taken care of right here in Belo
Horizonte including legal translations, no plane tickets needed. Rio de
Janiero is a great place to visit but Belo Horizonte is a better place
live if you are not an ocean fan.
|We have much
lower prices and less crime since we are off the beaten tourist path.
We have cooler weather since the ridge we live on is about 3000’ above
sea level, sticky humidity rarely a problem.
can be very dramatic given that we are on the transition from rain forest
to semi-arid highlands. From about mid-Oct to mid-May the
weather is beautiful, a 60/80F channel with enough rain to keep things
green and the air fresh. Right now we are enjoying lots of ripe mangos,
the mango tree being very common here.
Belo Horizonte complaints: (1) From mid-May through mid-Oct is the
dry season (“winter”), global warming has not helped any.
It gets dry, grass turns brown and then the farmers set EVERYTHING on fire.
This is a nationwide phenomenon and it really messes up the air quality,
it’s very UGLY and the effect is amplified here in Belo Horizonte by inversion
layers that can set in and hold the smoke and smog here for a few days
at a time. (2) Trash, local custom is somewhat Chinese-like, whatever it
is, when you are done with it you just throw in on the ground. In
places where they don’t clean the streets things get trashy. Poverty
and crime can be a problem but so far after 11 months living in various
parts of Brazil I have not been a victim of crime. (3) Driving in town
is intense, roads poorly engineered, poorly maintained, and haphazard.
Traffic is heavy but usually moving.
obey traffic controls and there are lots of automatic speed traps.
However, no one takes “STOP” signs seriously…if you like stress
this is a great place to drive…I prefer taxi or bus. Motorcycles
are also very common, they split lanes like mad men.
For info on
ecotourism in Minas Gerais I recommend: “Turismo Ecologico – Minas Gerais”
by Empresa Das Artes, see: http://www.empresadasartes.com.br/publicacoes.php
Index ~ Brazil