The Return to Casa Grande

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February 9th 2009
Published: March 6th 2009
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Are you going to the Chico Rei mine tomorrow? Are you going to hire a guide and want to split the costs?

The words awoke me from my slumber. My body was awake but my mind was still fast asleep after being occupied by the cripple (sorry to my American readers, if there are any. Political correctness has still to hit the shores of Europe) and her kids on the overnight Sao Paulo-Ouro Preto bus. When the woman wasn't talking at full volume with her friend at the other end of the bus or her kids weren't playing 'elbow the gringo in the ribs', I tried to get some sleep but to no avail.

It thus took me a couple of moments to register Jose's words. Yeah, I'd be up for it but do you wanna get a bite to eat first?

Ten minutes in town and I had already made an instant friend. Like me, Jose had spent time in Floripa. But let me tell you, if you think my stories are wild (and I haven't told you will need to sign up to pay-per-tell for that) then his stories were absolutely insane. It puts Brazil into a whole different perspective. And it ain't necessarily bad 😉

That night we searched the city for some nightlife but without success. As the rain came down, we took shelter under a doorway only to be invited inside to a Republica (student dormitory/sorority). Murphy's law made sure that it was an all-male Republica 😞 so an early night it was.

The following morning we saw the mine (nothing special) before making an abrupt decision to check out the neighbouring town of Mariana. Unlike Ouro Preto, this place does not have a baroque church or two on every hill. In fact, it only has one hill...all the easier to sight see. And this we did. Being the only tourists in town was refreshing (the twenty in OP just made it feel too crowded) and best of all, they had ice cream and sweets on every corner. Those of you who know me well, know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. If a place wants to impress me, then good ice cream is a must 😊 We checked out the sights, tried the sweets and I full-heartily give Mariana a two thumbs up!

Back in OP, we gave the nightlife another try, but apart from the ubiquitous Skol, the samba group warming up for carnival and the local drunk that bummed us for some change, there was nothing going on. Still, I got to see alotmore than on my first visit...

Walking to and from my hostel to the town centre, I passed an inconspicuous looking place named Pousada Casa Grande. The name didn't evoke any memories but the location did. It was here that I had spent my hours in OP eleven years before. Giga Byte had left me stranded and Helen had taken me in. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart while her room-mate pretended to sleep. Aaah, what would we be without memories...

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