In o centro da cidade, there are some incredible places to spend the day for FREE. One sunny day my friends and I did just this. We walked around a theater that offers free film festivals and other cultural events, and the exterior of the antique building is filled with exciting murals by the graffiti artist Rogerio Fernandes.
There is a park with benches and grass nearby so we relaxed there for a bit, taking pictures of the angry jaguar statue in a way that comically depicted us defending ourselves from it. Next, we crossed the street and visited the train station, which is also a free historical museum about Brazilian transportation and culture.
This station, Estação Calafate, made me think of my many friends whose sons are obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, as the building had beautiful depictions of historic train engines on the columns, and even an actual model nearby.
At the museu, I learned about the history of the vendador(a), as they had a classic carrinho (cart) there. This is a strong symbol of Brazil, as one can find Brazilians and their carrinhos selling everything you can imagine, everywhere, on the go. In my neighborhood, I see the same vendadors calling out their goods as they move from street to street. They make this large city feel more friendly, intimate, and special to me.
The museu also showcased an impressive antique collection of moldes des queijos Minas. This cheese, known simply as o queijo Minas, is everywhere here in BH, and is claimed to be the best, most famous cheese in Brazil. As a non-meat eater living in the interior of Brasil, I eat this cheese daily. It is really delicious! It is white in color and melts very easily when heated. It is served cold with goiaba jelly slices, or on a sandwiche, or added in a variety of dishes. I especially enjoyed the heart-shaped mold, but I haven’t found any heart shaped-cheese…yet.
There was a replica of a historical map of the old mining route, Estrada Real, that is now a famous tourist route for visiting the popular tourist sites of Minas Gerais. Similar to pioneers in the United States, Brazilian pioneers moved into the interior on wagons, but their wagons only featured one giant wheel per side! I can hardly imagine how treacherous of a journey those adventurous souls had to make on the hilly, muddy, jungle-y terrain of Minas Gerais.
We spent hours inside the museu and I could have stayed all day, but there was a festa happening by the fountain outside so we decided to join the fun over there. I’ve included a photo of an incredible vendadora and her modern carrinho from this festa. This lovely woman danced her way around and between the crowds, smiling and enjoying herself every step of the way.