Brumas Hostel, Ouro Preto

Trip Start Jun 22, 2013
Trip End Aug 27, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Minas Gerais,
Monday, July 1, 2013

We are at the Brumas Hostel, Ouro Preto, it is very nice, and the rooms are clean and sort of spacious, only problem is its all dorms

We all had a quick get together, room''s sorted, I am in a room for 6, but there is a spare bed, I have Peggy, John, Rob and Chris in my room

I am quite happy I got a bottom bunk

The view from our room is very spectacular, and very picturesque

There is a square a few minutes from our hostel, (I think there used to be a prison around here, as I have heard that the men's was to the left and women to the right)

There is a church or central hall and a statue of someone who was involved in the revolution (I have no idea who he is though)

It is quite good around the square, they have all the shops and bars, subway, McD, but they are all tucked away in the old buildings, so it still maintains the old style and look of the town, there is a museum, but it’s closed today

So it’s a case of just wandering around and poking about in the shops, I can’t ask questions or talk, so it’s just a smile and a 'thank you’ I don’t know if they understand me, but I hope so

We went for dinner in a bar, all the group were there, it was dinner and football (mmm, not too sure)

I knew Brazil was heavily into football but not as passionate as this, everywhere that had a TV was solid with fans (it was Brazil Vs Spain)

The drinks and food were in full flow when the match started and of course when Brazil scored the whole place erupted, it was quite awesome to see it

I sat through half the match and watched all the goals scored then made my way back to the hostel and left the youngsters and Brazilians to celebrate (there were no more goals scored, so I never missed much)

I am going to visit a gold mine in the morning, and as I have never been in one it seemed a great chance to do so, this mine stopped producing gold back in 1985, so the only gold is from the tourists now


We got the local bus, another novel thing, but still a good cheap way of getting around, they get on the back, pay as you get on, then get off at the front, so completely different from any I have travelled on

The streets are really narrow and arent really good for buses, but they do manage it, all the roads are cobble stones, which does make for a bumpy ride, plus its all hills, but the buses seem well maintained and clean and comfotable to travel in

We travel about 7-8Km to the gold mine, the scenery is quite spectacular through the bus windows, but I guess the locals are used to it

We arrived at the mine (Mina da Passagem) and it was pretty deserted, in fact we were the only people there

We got on this cart that would send us to the depths of the mine, so 315 meters underground, the cable machine was imported many years ago, but its working, it maybe old, but still in good condition, it just pulls and lowers tourists now rather than wagons of ore

I snapped a few photos of the old machinery and wagons, water pumps

It was quite a trip into the mine and quite steep, but comparatively smooth, it was 315 meters by cable car, but we were 120 meters vertical down, there were lots of off shoots in the mine, there was still some of the old compressed air machines down there, all dumped and not used now, as we got near the bottom there was lots of kids, all on a day out or a visit, we stopped, got off and they all piled aboard for their trip to the surface

The guide we had with us, said there was a river above us and we were below the water table, and the pumps were still running (again these had been imported back in the 1800’s and were still working)

The mine was worked by slaves, who were down here for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, not many lived beyond 30 years old because of the work, dust, dirt and actual hard labour

It took 1 ton of ore to produce 60 grams of gold, there were a few gems found as well but they were few and far between

Looking at the mine, there are many colours of rock, the white is quartz, where a lot of the gold is found, but it needs crushing and refining before any gold is found

The ore gets to the surface, is crushed, then put on a vibrating table and washed with water, the gold sinks to the bottom and is then picked out, they never used mercury or cyanide to get the gold from the ore, so to a certain point pollution was kept down

The rocks they dug up were flat as was used a lot on house production and stacked up and used as ‘pit props’ it seemed to work quite well as you can see, the off shoots in the mine are everywhere, some lit by electric bulbs now, but when the slaves were there it would be ‘fat’ lamps

There are still holes where the dynamite was pushed into the rock, during this time, there would be rock falls, dust blown out, so many slaves were killed at this time, and their bodies would be stacked along with the ore and bought to the surface and taken off to the slave’s graveyard to be buried

As we walk around there is a natural lake which can be dived, but its mainly at weekends, it is over 2Km long and60 meters in depth (I can’t see it being very interesting diving it, there is nothing living in there, not water bugs, not even bats use the mine)

I could see that the water is very clear and was told its very pure as it has been filtered through the mountain, the water is between 17-20 C the year round, it is so still it reflects the roof of the mine and makes it hard to see the bottom of the lake

We walk around taking photos of the galleries, you can feel the weight of the mountain bearing down on you, but it’s not oppressive or claustrophobic, it’s just gloomy, but the quarts still shines brightly

There isn’t much to see after this, so we walked back to the cable car to get back to the surface, we were the only ones down here

I managed to get a front seat and did a video of our ascent to the top

When we got to the top, it was a visit to the gem store and see all the gems that had been found over the years (and some that had been brought in from other areas (and were for sale)

There were some really nice gems there, even so polished quartz, but it was just a case of looking, but not buying

After this it was another bus back into town, this was overcrowded so standing room only

So that was about it for our mine tour, I had found it interesting and informative

35 tons of gold were bought out of the mine during its working life, 1800-1985

(I never worked out how many tons of ore where taken out to get that amount of gold, 6 grams-1 ton of ore)

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Peggy on

Great overview of photos.

greekcypriot on

Wow! Derrick, what an interesting entry this was!
I enjoyed the ride, the way you write everything down and I went back three times to see the photos again and again. THANKS so much.
I loved the Spanish architecture of the church, and I am very fond of cobblestoned streets. I wish I were there! I am sure Ann will regret that she did not follow, although I knows she is back home working.

derrick241 on

Glad you enjoyed the photos, it was quite a visit to the gold mine
I think the architecture is Portuguese (that is who used to rule the country before they got their independence

Anne on

well the pictures get better and better and the video was great i really enjoy reading you blog the way you write it i feel like i am there with you
Good job

rossport on

good to see you have a decent Hostel mate and a pretty town as well. Did the guards frisk you for any gold when u emerged from the bottom.

mmbcross on

Ouro Preto still looks good today as when I saw it back in the late 70s. I'm in Porto, Portugal presently and the architecture is similar, though Porto looks much more decrepit than Ouro Preto.

Jim on

Another fine piece of information- Good pictures, too, as usual- thanks Del.

travelmonster on

I love travelling on local buses - always an experience :-) Great view from your room.

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