Sao Goncalo

Trip Start Jan 17, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Minas Gerais,
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From Serro to Sao Goncalo, the road is unpaved, and the bus takes 2 hours to cover about 20 miles of hilly countryside, on the way, you pass through tiny little villages each with their own church in the middle of a tiny grassed village square. We soon pulled into the town's square ( I was now the only passenger on the bus) there were various signs for pousadas around the square so followed some down one of the little country lanes, after a few twists and turns, pousada del capao, was ahead of me. I started the talk in Portuguese but luckily found that it was run by Peter, an American and his Brazilian wife. He showed me to one of the very well decorated chalets in the gardens, and I bargained the price down to 50 reais a night (from 70). Thr hostel was located in a very rural location, there were no street lights on the path down into the village, so I used my touch to show me the way. As they were going through renovations at the hotel, in preparation for the carnival period, when they will be full of guests, not to worry, there were some places that I could eat in town, they would be simple, but thats fine by me. 

Sao Goncalo is a small village with a couple of thousand people, if you take a walk around the village, you cannot miss all the horses and cows grazing on the village green by the church, there is even a waterfall a couple of hundred metres away from the centre of the village, from where there are amazing views over the rural hills, forests and streams for miles and miles. Local people use the pool at the top of the waterfall for swimming, some also for washing clothes. One thing I was surprised  about was that there was an internet cafe in the village, apparently the internet connection had been installed by an NGO with the goal of connecting remote communities to the web, so when I went all the local kids were busy on Orkut (Brazilian version of facebook) chatting with friends. The connection was surprisingly fast for such a rural and remote place, it was here that found that Daniella, back in Rio, was sick with dengue, so I bought a phone card and gave her a call from the phone in the square. In the afternoon, with directions from Peter, I set off to one of the waterfalls, about 5 Kms, from Sao Goncalo, the walk took me past small holdings and houses in the absolute middle of nowhere, there were lots of horses grazing along the way, not fenced in at all, just roaming , I was not sure who they belonged to, they could have well been wild horses. The walk took about 1 hour and a half, the path descended through a small wooded valley, until I could hear the sound of the river, and saw the waterfall, it was quite wide but not as some of the others we have seen recently, but it was nice to be able to experience it without noise from other visitors, unfortunately down by the river there were a lot of irritating large flies which made it quite uncomfortable.
Sao Goncalo is a quiant place, though it is very rural, and can feel a little bit boring so I was longing to return to civilisation after a few days, though I enjoyed speaking English (as had not done this in Serro or Diamantina)  with Peter, who was a font of local knowledge especially what it is like for a foreigner in this part of the world who wants to set up a business. It was actually him, who had written the English map in Serro, which was not surprise, as all the text had been grammatically correct, tourism is on the rise in this village, though it is a slow process, apparently there is the possibility that the road to Serro is getting paved, which will decrease the travelling time for locals.
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