I have a very dear friend Tania, who is really looking after me well and has given me freedom of her home. Also she has shown me many new and exotic places here in the Territory of Minas Gerais, which is the original heart of Portugese occupied Brazil. I have walked the city extensively and though it is far from a regular camino, there have been many incredible things to see and visit, in this huge city. Whilst Brazil is only a 'new' federal country, it has seemingly advanced far beyond its infancy in short time. Despite the obvious disparity between the rich and the poor here, 'posh' houses being against 'slum' areas, the standard of living seems very high for many people. The poor have a wealth of opportunities given to them free from the state and government. Free health centres, dentistry and many other social services that are tackling the health and living standards of people from less fortunate areas. There are free national park areas, with a minimum car park charge, and so many buses in the cities that you will never wait very long. The ride fee is fixed for journeys within the cities, so whether you do 1 stop or all of them, it's the same price.
In the main, the cost of living is quite high. Food and drink that is imported is incredibly costly, and even normal things like toothpaste and vegetables are higher in value that in most European countries. But like most places, if you know where to shop there are always exceptions.
In nearly every place I have visited, there have been free concerts and music available to the general public, either in parks or shopping areas.
Whilst everyone drives like Ayrton Senna, I have not yet seen one accident, which surprised me as there are more than 2.5 million people living in this city and several more million in the close regions.
I have taken to sitting most days on the Praca Sete, the heart of downtown Belo Horizonte, to add to my poetry blog. (See attached link)
The connection of four major roads in an eight way junction, seems like the perfect place to watch the world go by, in the absence of my favourite Coffee Shop, Caffe Nero. and a great place to write, despite the obvious presence of polution from passing traffic, but it is a calm island in a waterless sea.
Tania is one of the head nurses at the Health Centre,
'Centro Saude do Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Sao Lucas'.
Everyday she deals with people from the very poor slum areas and helps to deal with the social ills as well as the physical ones. She diagnoses most of the influx of patients, determining which need to see the doctor or diverting them to the other resources, (ie. hospital, or treatment centres)
She also runs a bi-weekly LIAN GONG class for the residents of the slum, to help people with regulation and movement difficulties. Lian Gong is a type of movement exercise, very similar to Tai Chi.
She dreams of going to Help doctors in Africa, to treat the sick and diseased, and I for one hope that she gets the opportunity to fulfil this goal.
Last weekend we visited the Serra Piedade. A huge mountain here in Minas Gerais and a great view over the whole area, and city of Belo Horizonte.
I hope to get to see a bit more of the coast before I have to return to the U.K. so will put some pictures available soon.