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Brazil
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Brazil - Part 5
Espirito Santo & Minas Gerais


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      Brazil should be the richest country in the world. What does it not have? Natural resources are abundant. It is so huge and with so much good soil it can grow anything tropical or temperate. I saw plenty of fallow land, too.
      Brazil could have more American tourism if not for a myopic vision in regard to tourist visas, but I never got anywhere arguing this with Brazilians. In fact, I often got raised voices. Brazil was the first country in the world that I know of to use "reciprocity", the policy of charging Americans for tourist visas the same as we charge them. Like a wave of Africanized bees other countries are following suit: Bolivia, Chile and now Argentina all charge about US$130 for a visa. Furthermore, Americans are often singled out in airport immigration lines and are subjected to what we do to everyone who enters America: fingerprinting, eyescan, baggage search--I don't even know, but the Brazilians do it just to annoy since they find it annoying.
      Anyone who has ever called the Brazilian consulates in Los Angeles or San Francisco about getting a visa knows the score. It's maddening. But, since Americans usually don't know how hard it is for foreigners to get visas to come to America, once they find out it is easier to be sympathetic.
      I see the point except that there aren't millions of Americans dying to get into Brazil to live and work, though there should be--I would love to, in fact! I really stirred a hornets nest with a group of Brazilians once when I suggested that if USA suddenly made visas free to Brazilians, the country would be empty. Brazilians don’t need visas for Europe and apparently there hasn't been any real mass exodus other than to Portugal.
      My biggest beef with the system for foreigners isn't necessarily the prohibitive cost or the random rules or the endless stories I hear of superior attitudes at the embassy but the fact that when American immigration rejects your application, they don't refund your money. That's not fair and I don't care what the so-called cost of processing an application is.
     
      This page is for two states semi-neglected by travelers, Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais. People from Espirito Santo are called Capixabas (Cah-pee-sha-bahs), a name that cracked me up and I used to confuse people when they asked where I am from.
      I spent precious few days in Minas Gerais, but it has a soft spot in my heart if only because hitchhiking is common there. Unfortunately, in my case, reckless driving is also common and after a few white knuckle experiences, I longed for the bus. Once a Brazilian who had lived in USA for 10 years picked me up. We were two big guys in a tiny car. He enjoyed pointing out all the dangerous spots on the road. "Many people die here," he would say as we careened around a bumpy curve practically on two wheels. Despite the rich local cultural heritage, at the one place he stopped the car, he pointed out, apropos of nothing, "Kent, over there is a motel. It is for people to have sex." He paused, making sure I understood this before we death-raced on. He later complained to me that in America you can't touch the girls in strip clubs like you can here. Did I mention that he was divorced?
     
      Itaunas is a little place in the northern part of Espirito Santo known for its huge sand dunes, and deserted beaches--at least when I was there.

My hotel in Barra Conceicao Pineapple seller, Vitoria

      North Korean ship in Vitoriaīs port and this "compro ouro" sign cracks me up. (The boy jumped into my photo at the last minute.) "I buy gold! Really, this coconut juice thing is just my side job, honest!"


     
     
      I was so sick of buses that I went out of my way to take the Vitoria to Belo Horizonte train at right.
     

      The next six photos are from Ouro Preto (Black Gold), a fantastic little place in the Minas Gerais heartland.

The oldest functioning theatre in South America Windowsill figures

Graffiti on church wall More Ouro Preto

      Mural on wall, guarana drink (Why isnīt it sold in USA? Coke makes a popular brand in Brazil.) and funny lunch girls at a place I got left hitchhiking.

Mariana Tiradentes

      The next six pix are of Tiradentes, which means "toothpuller", but is named after a local hero who resisted the Portuguese colonizers.

     

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Brazil
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Part 1
     
Part 2
     
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Part 5
     
Part 6
     
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