Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

In Belo Horizonte, besides volunteering and seeing Pearl Jam, I enjoyed time with wonderful hosts Patricia and her mother and celebrated my birthday.

Confins, Belo Horizonte’s main airport, is located almost 40km out of the city. To reach the city centre I took the executive bus (R$23.70). Patricia was kindly waiting for me and we took a taxi to her Mum’s house.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

With Patricia’s bubbly mother prior to dinner

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Another hilly street

Belo Horizonte, like Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo, is full of hills and my hosts lived on a steep sloping street.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

A cheese shop, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte. Minas Gerais is famous for cheese and it featured prominently in the market

On my birthday Patricia and I planned to visit Inhotim, a sprawling contemporary art and environmental space outside of the city. However, continuous morning rain caused localised flooding and changed our plans. Instead, we visited Mercardo Central (Belo Horizonte’s ‘Central Market’). Like Adelaide’s Central Market, Mercardo Central has dozens of stalls and is the place to buy fresh food in Belo Horizonte. Although most foods were cheaper than in Australia, I was still surprised at how expensive they were relative to the wage difference.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Turkish apricots, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Apricots in Brazil are named Damasco after the city of Damascus, Syria.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Chilli stall, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Fruit stall, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

I loved exploring the market and looking at the various stalls. Patricia explained local specialities and was a font of knowledge.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Stall selling baskets, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Birthday lunch with Patricia, Casa Cheia, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Feijao Tropeiro Com Torresmo, a traditional Minas Gerais pork dish, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil Lace-work, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

After Mercado Central, Patricia dropped me off for my first Brazilian haircut. The haircut experience went well, despite limited shared language.

The Miss Brasil 2015 beauty contest was televised from Sao Paulo. Comment was made that, despite Brazil’s majority African-origin and mixed-race population, the top ten finalists were all light-skinned with straight hair

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Patricia’s mother’s cleaners made a delicious lunch on the 20th: galinha caipira (‘country chicken’), tutu de feij√£o (a bean dish), rice, salad and pasta (latter two not pictured)

The salad and pasta served for lunch on the 20th both featured pickled palm hearts. Although I had seen jars of palm hearts in Australia, I don’t recall tasting them. The hearts complemented the salad and pasta nicely and they are a new favourite food. However, reading the Wikipedia article detailing the poaching of wild palms for heart harvesting, has now tempered my enjoyment.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

With Patricia and her mother

On the 20th I caught a taxi to the city centre and then the executive bus back to Confins Airport. Next to my departure gate was California Coffee cafe. What an ironic name for a cafe in Minas Gerais, the biggest coffee growing state in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee-producer.

Thank you to Patricia, her mother and relatives for making a wonderful and memorable Belo Horizonte stay.

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