"TiraPretoTim": Tiradentes, Ouro Preto, and Inhotim. A week vacation during "Carnavale" week in Brazil.
The Carnavale is celebrated in Brazil every year, 46 days before the Easter festival. Carnival is derived from the word carnelevare, which literally translates to “removal of meat”. The roots of the festival are believed to be in the tradition of Roman Catholics when they abstained from meat and alcohol on certain days as a method to drive away bad things from their life. (Now I know why I couldn't eat meat on Friday as a kid growing up in Philadelphia's Irish Catholic streets.)
The Carnival in Brazil as we know it today is believed to have originated during the European dominated era. Back then, followers of the Roman Catholic Church would indulge in last day of dance, fun, alcohol and sex just before the start of Lent, which is a period of abstinence from alcohol and other sins. Back then, people would exchange clothes and indulge in wild dancing, and it also sometimes coincided with exchange of slaves. (From http://www.calendarlabs.com/holidays/brazil/carnival.php)
Sue's school closes for a week to celebrate "Carnavale" as it is spelled in Brazil. Do we go to Rio for the craziness and festivities? Some of Sue's school teachers suggested a small colonial town, Tiradentes, but the celebration lasts only 4 days. Further research showed another small colonial town worth visiting for another few days: Ouro Preto, a town built during the gold rush. Ouro Preto literally translate to "Gold Black". Wrapping up the holiday would be a one day trip to a modern art museum and botanical garden called "Inhotim".
This blog entry is a recap of the week with further blog entries with a little more detail on the towns, "Smokin' Mary", the many visited Igrejas (Churches), Carnavale itself and the Inhotim visit.
Tiradentes and Ouro Preto are small preserved colonial towns in the state of Minas Gerais. One of our main reasons for visiting these towns are the 300 year old buildings and cobblestone streets
Many of the streets wind wonderfully up and down the hilly town.
One day was spent riding the "Maria Fumaca" or "Smok'n Mary" steam train ride of about 35 minutes to the town of Sao Joao Del Rie.
In each town were simple and majestic churches, some with ornate statues inside, however almost all the churches prohibit inside photography. I'm one of those who follows the rules knowing what the electronic flash damage can be had.
One church did allow for inside photography. More pics when I post the "church" blog entry.
And of course there was "Carnavale" going on while we were there. We missed out on taking photos the first night in Tiradentes as we arrived late from our flight and walked downtown (without camera!!) to find a place for dinner. As we were dining the parade formed right outside our restaurant. One of those "..why didn't I..." moments.
On the next night we knew there would be another parade and one of the groups was selling shirts. I bought one planning to march in the parade but as we were having dinner a monster thunderstorm rolled in soaking everything and knocking out power. As we headed back in the pitch black dark to the hotel after the rain subsided, we heard the sound of chainsaws in the park. Freddy? Nope, a giant tree had fallen during the windstorm and the town maintenance were cleaning it up. Amazingly the next day you would not have known there was any tree fall at all. Nary a leaf.
We were able to enjoy a small parade our last night in Tiradentes and were lucky enough to see a big parade in Ouro Preto on the very last night of Carnavale. The next morning we were amazed to find most of the town clear of the night's revelry and partying. We could hear music and shouting until at least 6:00 a.m.
Without a doubt the best costume we saw.
And last but not least we spent a rainy day at the "Inhotim" modern art museum and botanical gardens. No photography allowed inside the museum exhibits of which there were many. Did get a shot of an outside mural and some standing sculptures.
Separate blog entries to be done on:
Towns of Tiradentes and Ouro Preto
Right now, time for a bike ride in Ibirapuera Park.