I really didn't have any idea what to expect other than a huge city with 5.15 million people. But I was still surprised to see sky scrapers right on the edge of the city. There wasn't any 'easing' into the city, one minute we were in the countryside, the next we were surrounded by seemingly endless high rise apartment blocks.
The city, 300 kms from the sea, is built on several hills and is completely surrounded by mountains. I know, I keep going on about the hills. There are lowlands, too but it seems they are not a popular place to live, everyone preferring the cooler climate of the hills. The city will be one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and evidence of preparations are obvious around the city.
Belo Horizonte has been nominated by the UN, as the city with the best quality of life in Latin America and the 45th among the top 100 cities worldwide. Today the city is the fifth largest GDP among Brazilian municipalities. I was a little overcome by the traffic and don't think I appreciated the city for its attractiveness. In the area I saw the most of, the streets were always clean and I didn't appreciate that because I'd be thinking about the noisy night time council workers who interrupted my already restless sleep. I normally am one of the world's great sleepers, I put my head on the pillow and know nothing till morning. In Belo sleep was difficult to find, the noises of the night seemed constant. Every single noise was strange to me and many of them alarmed me.
Because of the hills there are places that have good broad views of the city. One of these is The Plaza of the Pope which we visited on our way to the Mangabeiras Park which isn't far from where Bernie lives.
We drove to the park but once inside there was a bus to take us to a higher part of the park and we walked back down. There was a temperature sign outside the park and I think it may have been slightly warmer on the trails so there was no way I would have wanted to walk up the hills.
We were on the lookout for the little spider monkeys that frequent the area. Bernie had two bananas in his pocket and said they would smell the fruit from miles away. There were very few other people in the park and the noisiest bunch were not far ahead of us. We kept stopping and peering into the forest for the monkeys, giving the other people plenty of time to get well ahead of us and out of earshot. Eventually the other party got extremely noisy which didn't amuse us very much - until we realized they had found a group of the little monkeys. There were six or eight of them, very cute, tiny little agile creatures. They scampered down the trees and branches, reached out and their tiny fingers broke off a piece of banana as quick as a wink. They would then scamper away, the fastest would escape the bunch and have the fruit all to itself, the slower would find itself in the midst of an intense squabble. We didn't get any decent photos.
That will be my lot for the day. My computer is giving me grief, might need a visit to the computer doctor.