I arrived for the first time to Belo Horizonte, or B.H. (pronounced “Bay-agah”) less than a week ago. Like the other three Brazilian mega-cities I have visited, it is gi-normous, sprawling, intimidating, beautiful, alive, lush, and extremely confusing. B.H. is unique to me however, in that it’s their rainy season, so it pours rain most all of the time (this is coming from someone from Seattle, mind you. I can spend a great deal of time describing the rain distinctions, maybe later.) Happily, like a godsend, today was sunny and dry all day.
Each day I typically have one main excursion in the city, bookmarked by much time at my new ‘casa familia Bohoroquez’ and immediate bairro. Day one, we went the lovely Palacio das Artes and then out for ‘pizza’ (in quotes, as I am not sure corn and watercress-like squares counts as genuine pizza toppings). Another day, we went to a free concerto by the lagoa. Each day, my eyes are wide with delight, absorbing my surroundings. I giggle at the little differences that delight me: urban cowboy farmers leading horse-drawn carts, friendly exchanges, insane traffic situations that few bat an eye at, the red earth, the variety of flowers blooming, and so on.
Today I had planned to tag along with my friend/housemate, Pachin, as he searches for an apartment here in B.H., which is a daunting task I am told. He is kind to invite me, as my helpfulness will likely be only in entertainment value. Because I do not know anything about B.H., or finding an apartment here, or getting around, and I walk slower than he does, and I ask silly questions and interject confusing comments (“This reminds me of a sidewalk pattern I saw in Portugal…” or “What do you call ‘hibiscus’ in Portuguese?”) while he is trying to manage something like hailing our bus.
For instance, yesterday Pachin and I decided to walk around town, since the rain stopped. We visited a store that features an incredible bench that he made artful, and then we had a soda. Next, we stopped by the doctor’s and I waited in the lobby for a bit. Notably, there was no cashier station there. Then it was pouring rain, and miserable Monday rush hour traffic. We waited for some time for our bus under a walkway used as a shelter. We squeezed on the bus and stood, riding like surfers, for an hour or so. Kindly, a young woman held my belongings on her lap for me. All the riders were kind and pleasant, despite the situation. Exiting was the hardest part, as their wasn’t a back door, and we had been sandwiched to the back. It was a true contortionist exercise, and I barely made it. I was laughing, but most barely blinked. Soon I will post photos of the bus stop, but I was unable to get a shot of the exit. “Don’t worry, it is like this every dia,” Pachin assured me.
But today’s plans changed, so instead I rode in a little truck with the youngest daughter of the casa, Graciella, to the mall to purchase my mobile telefone for Brasil. Late afternoon, I walked with the mother of the casa, Luz Helena, to buy bread, and then I dorked around in the park, hanging from my knees on the parallel bars. Ah, the simple joys of childhood…