This post will show you a different side of Brazil. This is about those small towns and villages where the mailwoman is still an attraction, where dogs sleep on quiet streets, and police officers have long lunches because there is not much to do anyway. Places that might not be on your list when you plan to visit Brazil.
These places indeed are nothing like Rio de Janeiro, a city swarmed with tourists and where crime unfortunately is still not an exception.
We are in the state of Minas Gerais, North of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Here we visited some small towns and villages: Patrocinio, Estrela do Sul, Romaria…… names you have probably never heard of.
But these places (and the people that live there) will give you an insight into life in Brazil outside of the major touristic destinations. This post is your visual tour through Terra Incognita: the unknown Brazil. Part 1.
Family history in Brazil
But first: why did we travel to Brazil last January? You can read an earlier post called A Spiritual Travel Tip, but let me explain again very shortly.
The story starts almost 100 years ago. My father’s uncle went to Brazil in the 1920s, to work as a missionairy. His name was Huub van Lieshout, but in Brazil they called him Father Eustaquio. In Brazil (mainly the state of Minas Gerais) he became religiously famous where people believed he had the ability to heal people from diseases and other problems.
Every day thousands of people wanted to meet him in person: to bless their drinking water or for the laying on of hands! In the end this almost turned into chaos and Father Eustaquio had to be physically moved to other cities (he actually moved a couple of times).
The great thing is that still nowaday people in Brazil worship him; they kneel down at this tomb in the city of Belo Horizonte to pray and call for his power; even 60 years after his death. More about this story and the city of Belo Horizonte in part 2 of this post.
We believe it’s a fascinating story, and part of our family history. Eustaquio was beatificated in 2006 and many Brazilians are waiting for him to be declared a Saint (so-called canonization). Together with my parents and sister we traveled to Brazil to visit all the places he lived, the churches he worked and the museums that were built to honor him. A real family history trip!