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Published: August 4th 2015
street scene in Tiradentes
What a wonderful place to visit. Living in such a place has to bring out one's creativity.
From down the coast at Ubatuba, Sao Paulo State, my parents and I hit the road in the evening across the mountains, driving through green forests and farmland towards Belo Horizonte, where we had tickets for a World Cup game. We drove until 1am, then found a quiet spot along the road to pitch our tent and get a few hours of shut-eye. There was absolutely no traffic and we felt we were deep in the countryside. So imagine our surprise when a police car pulled over as we were getting in our sleeping bags. I first thought the cop would tell us we weren’t allowed to camp there but he actually looked flabbergasted and amused by these French tourists in their pajamas in the middle of nowhere, and he simply told us the police station was not far away down the road if we needed anything. Nice! We got up early the next day and got to enjoy beautiful misty views of the surrounding hills and ranches. We drove to the small town of Tiradentes in Minas Gerais, famous for its colonial charm. Colorful architecture, horse-drawn carriages, palm trees lining up cobbled streets, mysterious mountains all around, blue sky above
it all… Tiradentes is picturesque.
There wasn’t a soul in the streets but it was not easy to find a place to park in town. Strange. Where was everyone? It doesn’t get long to get oriented in Tiradentes as the old churches, the main landmarks, clearly stand out on top of the hills. But we were amazed how peaceful this little town remained. We walked to the first hill and gazed at the stunning view of the terracotta-tiled colonial houses and the green mountains that encircle the valley. We walked across town and took photos of the pretty buildings.
The town of Tiradentes gets its name from Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, known as “Tiradentes” (Tiradentes
= tooth puller; he first worked as a dentist) who was a leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement known as the Inconfidencia Mineira whose aim (in the 18th
century) was full independence from the Portuguese colonial power and to create a Brazilian republic. Tiradentes was born in a farm just outside of town.
We eventually ran into a few local tourists. The women were wearing jeans and leather boots… Winter time, I suppose. And when I asked them in broken
originally called Arraial da Ponta do Morro (Hamlet on a Hilltop)
Portuguese where everyone in town was, they pointed towards the main church, Igreja Matriz de Santo Antonio. We walked up the quaint cobbled street that leads to the square of Largo das Forras (sensational buildings and colors!), and suddenly here was everybody, picnicking in the gardens around the church, buying street food, looking at CDs and other toys from street stalls; kids were firing air rifles at balloons; moms and daughters were trying on new Havaianas flip flops. It was Sunday, and every Sunday in Tiradentes, there is music all around: pop music coming from the food stalls or the improvised clothing stores on the side of the street AND there is singing in church. We had lunch in the middle of this musical concoction and felt very much alive.
As we were wandering through another beautiful street of colonial houses and big bright churches with statues and green gardens around (very normal in Tirandentes!), we met 2 football fans from Belgium (We knew right away they were from Belgium because of the big flags they carried on their backs… and also because of their lobsterized faces: typical!) who had driven from Belo Horizonte -where we ourselves were heading
the next day to watch Belgium vs. Algeria. The 5 of us marveled at being the only foreign tourists in such a fantastic town. According to my parents and our Belgian neighbors, in the months before the FIFA World Cup, the European media had reported so much on problems of criminality in the favelas
, insecurity in the big cities, insane traffic, the sale of fake World Cup tickets on the black market, plus all the anti-World Cup protests (“Football supporters fleeing rubber bullets, roads into stadiums blocked by angry crowds, mobs throwing stones at Fifa offices, World Cup placards being ripped down and burned in the midst of mass protests.
), so very few foreign tourists dared to drive on their own around Brazil.
We ended our visit of Tiradentes at a bakery (not cheap if I remember well) where we indulged on different kinds of delicious pastries: pastel de natas (egg tarts), all sorts of cakes: bolo de rolo (melted guava), bolo de mel (honey cake), bolo de prestigio (chocolate), bolo de maracuja (my favorite: passion fruit cake!)…, Beijinhos (coconut truffles with clove), and other Portuguese spongy, lemony doughnuts covered in sugar! Hmmmm!
We were all set
to drive the last 200km to join Belgian and Algerian fans at the completely revamped Mineirao Football Stadium in Belo Horizonte!
La plage, c’est fini pour un petit moment. Nous filons vers l’interieur du pays, en direction de Belo Horizonte (la 3e plus grosse ville du Bresil) ou nous avons des tickets pour Belgique-Algerie. Apres une nuit dans la tente sur le bord de la route (et une visite amicale de la police alors qu’on entrait dans nos sacs de couchage!), nous sommes arrives a Tiradentes, la tres jolie ville coloniale ou naquit l’arracheur de dents, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, surnommé Tiradentes,
un des leaders et martyrs de l’insurrection contre les portugais au 18e siècle.
La ville de Tirandetes compte un centre historique fabuleux ou les vieilles maisons et les eglises colorees representent de beaux examples d’architecture coloniale. Aux premiers abords, la ville nous est apparue endormie, presque deserte. C’est presque en silence que nous avons arpente les rues pavees qui menent aux eglises, situees au sommet de differentes collines, Du haut nous avons pu admirer de fabuleux points de vue sur la ville fleurie et les montagnes environnantes.
En contrebas nous avons finalement rencontre
quelques touristes locaux (habilles pour l’hiver, pantalons longs, bottes de cuir…) qui nous ont indique que le dimanche, tout le monde en ville faisait la fete autour de l’eglise Matriz de Santo Antonio, sur la place principale de Tirandentes. Et en effet, les petites rues pietonnes etaient jonchees de vendeurs a la sauvette, de restaurants et d’animation pour les jeunes et les moins jeunes. L’eglise etait bondee et les chants religieux se melangeaient a la musique pop des restaurants. Nous nous sommes pose a une terrace ombragee et avons dejeune (viande, riz, pois, salade= plat typique) en contemplant cette joie de vivre bresilienne.
Un peu plus bas nous avons rencontre 2 touristes belges (les seuls touristes etrangers que nous avons apercus a Tirandetes) et avons discute des raisons pour lesquelles si peu d’europeens semblaient voyager seuls au Bresil. Apparemment dans les mois qui ont precede la Coupe du Monde, les infos sur le Bresil etaient un concentre de violence, de rapports effarents sur la criminalite en ville ou des embouteillages monstres, et puis evidemment des images des nombreuses manifestations anti-Mondial ou les policiers ont meme tire des grenades de gaz lacrymogene sur les manifestants. Bref, nous n’etions
picturesque natural setting
I would like to go back some day and do some hiking in the mountains
pas nombreux a louer une voiture et a nous ballader dans les petites villes de ce beau pays. Allez, en route!
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