Juiz de Fora is a city in Minas Gerais, a state immediately to the north of Rio de Janiero state.
According to Google Maps, which works well here in Brasil, it is 183km and should take 2 hours and 40 minutes. We did it in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Why? Because I didn’t know the way, so I had to follow a madman typical Brasilero , who insisted on passing everything on the two-lane highway through the mountains. Just to keep things interesting, it rained the whole way, and I was trying to follow a new Toyota Hilux with a big turbocharged diesel. I was driving a fully-loaded one-liter Celta (with the A/C on because of the rain). At one point, when it was really dark and raining, my headlights went out. I was able to get them back on again by fooling with the switch, but they continued to blink out from time to time, adding an interesting level of stress to what was already a drive that promised to end with me meeting my ancestors. It was so nice to finally arrive in one piece. We spent a few days at the house of a friend of Cinesio’s. I wouldn’t post photos of someone’s personal house here, but it was a really nice place. Our host was extremely generous, and his wife was a perfect hostess. Seven of us invaded their house for two days with not even a single hitch. Our host had a third floor that was designed for entertaining – there was a large brick barbecue, along with a sink and cabinets, tables with lots of seating, a pool table and even his and hers bathrooms. All of this was on a covered patio open on one end. A pretty cool place to hang out.
After a quick trip to the supermercado for provisions, we hung out and played some “snooker”. It’s played with one ball less than the normal “8 ball” rack. You either get the odd or the even balls, depending on who drops the first ball. The balls don’t have stripes, and when you “scratch” you have to put one of the opponent’s balls in a pocket. Not too hard to follow. We had a good time. I am definitely not a good pool player, but we were all bad enough that we could have fun playing together.
The next morning, we went to pick up our host’s boat, and spent a few hours on Represa Dr Joao Penido – a reservior created in 1933 that supplies half of the water to the city of Juiz de Fora. We encountered some critters being driven along the rural road to the lake. The lake wasn’t that busy – we were the only boat on the water on a Saturday afternoon (there were two jet skis, also). We could see horses grazing
near the water as well as a few vacation-style lake houses. It was beautiful there. As the lake is only seven kilometers long, it didn’t take that long to see the whole thing. We did take advantage of the cool water and followed our host into the water for a quick swim. All of the guys did.
Here’s tip for those of you that like to jump off of boats. Make sure that you leave someone on the boat that knows how it works (or maybe drop an anchor). All of us menfolk were having a great time in the water when we noticed the unanchored boat being pushed away from us by the wind. Oops. There’s nobody on board that knows how to bring the boat back, so we have to swim for it. After a few minutes, we realized that only one of us had to actually make it to the boat- that task falling to the quickest swimmer, the teenage son of our host, who was probably unaware that the rest of us had abandoned the trek so we could cheer him on better. Rescued, we climbed back onto the boat and air-dried while touring the perimeter of the lake another time. I did see some low-hanging wires near the middle, making the reservoir unsuitable for sailboats. I notice stuff like that.
Our host was nice enough to let me drive a bit. And yes, the top of my head got sunburned, although there was really very little sun. Being almost-bald sucks sometimes. Next time, I wear a hat.
We put the boat away and went back to our hosts’ place for some truly amazing Brasilian barbecue. Sausage and meat
, cooked up Brasilian-style served with lots of conversation. It was a nice afternoon, and after a lunch like that, we all needed a nap. Later that night, we went into town for a few drinks at a restaurant owned by Cinesio’s brother. Along with some chopp (what Brasilians call draft beer) and a truly awesome salad (so big that we split it three ways) we went home and called it a night.
Before driving home on Sunday, we spent the afternoon at a mall. I never understood shopping as entertainment, but the women love it. My idea of a perfect mall is one with a big bar between the parking lot and the mall proper, where you could drop the men off and pick them up on your way out. A mall is a mall – they’re the same everywhere in the world. I took a picture from the food court. Yes, that’s a Burger King in the background. Ick.
After goodbyes, we drove home. More crazy driving – more rain, but at least it was daylight. I didn’t have to worry about the lights on my almost-new rental car. On two-lane roads like these, you do meet a lot of trucks. Many of them are pretty darn slow. I did see a few passing lanes on grades. If they could build a few more passing lanes, perhaps drivers would wait for them to pass trucks – then again, maybe they wouldn’t.
So far, it has rained since I have arrived here, except for the break of a few hours on Saturday when we had the boat out. It’s a bit cooler than I expected here because of the rain. The forecast says that it’s going to get a bit warmer the rest of the week, but there will always be a chance of rain. Tomorrow it drops to 20% instead of today’s 50% chance of rain. That means that it’ll rain 20% of the day instead of half the day….
Oh, I wrote a lot about cars on my last post. Here are a couple of photos of a car taken this weekend in Juiz de Fora. Can anyone guess what kind of car this is? Here’s a hint – it was an economy car manufactured in the US in the seventies.
Betcha can’t guess.
Love the HID headlights. This guy took the car out to polish it and then put it back away. He obviously loves his car.