Brazil Recap Part 3: Minas Gerais

Welp, it has officially taken me almost two months to get to Part 3 of our Brazil trip! I've just been busy missing it, that is all:)

Some back story incase you have not read the previous recaps: Both of my parents are from farms in small towns in Minas Gerais, Brazil. They got married and moved to the U.S. in 1990. When I was growing up, they took my sister and I plenty of times. But even if we traveled around to different places within the country, we never full felt like we were "in Brazil" until we got to my grandmother's farm - that is my mom's mom. 

My grandmother devastatingly passed away about one month prior to our trip. I hadn't seen her in five years. From what my mom and family there had been telling me, she was no longer the same strong woman I knew. My grandmother raised 16 children (one who passed) with my grandfather, who died in 1989. When they were married, they acquired the farm from her father, renovated it and essentially built it from the ground up. My grandmother basically acted as farm manager - hiring, delegating, etc. According to my mom, her favorite job was caring for the chickens :)

As her health started to decline over the last few years, the condition of the farm went with it. My family had to turn their energy over to caring for her rather than caring for the house. This doesn't mean it is completely destroyed. It just means that normal upkeep has not been dealt with as much as it could have been. My grandmother started to have dementia and broke her hip last year. As much as my aunts insisted with her to move in with one of them so they could care for her, she could never leave Fazenda Padre Nosso (the farm's name).

Some of my favorite photos of her:

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The farm is special to me because I did not grow up with my massive extended family. The attention my sister and I got, and still get, when we travel to Brazil is remarkable. It feels good to be loved by so many people. And what I want you to know about this place is how much of a working system it is. When I say I go to my grandmother's farm in Brazil, I don't mean that I go and hang out with the few people that work there and play with the animals all day. There is someone who comes and cooks, another to clean and do laundry, my uncle takes care of the cows and makes cheese, other workers come to help him, and there are people who come and do maintenance/outdoor work. Can you imagine how many more people must have been working when there were 16 kids living there?

People are in and out of the house all day to do business or simply to say hi to whoever is there or visiting. When my grandmother was alive, she meant to much to everyone in this town that it was hard for people to drive by without stopping to have a coffee with her.

I was so excited for Kevin to get to experience this. However he reminded me that he still got to experience everything she created, and he was right. I know she would have welcomed him with open arms.

So here is our recap:

We landed in Belo Horizonte after our week in Rio and Bahia and met up with my parents who had flown from Boston. My dad stayed in the city for about 2 days to spend time with my grandfather. My mom, sister, Kevin and I got a taxi driver to drive us the 5 hours until we got to Materlandia, where my family's farm is. I used to love this drive but it was honestly so exhausting this time around, I think because we hadn't slept that much the night before and we were kind of crammed.

We stopped at my aunt's house on the way and then got to the farm around 9 pm. I had been dreading the arrival knowing that my grandmother wouldn't be there waiting. Instead, we pulled up and the lights from the upstairs varanda came on and a bunch of my family members came out. Aunts, uncles, cousins who had all spent the day there waiting for it. It was emotional but I am so thankful that they were there. My aunt even hung up a sign over Kevin's bed that said "Make yourself at home, Kevin"!

The next morning Kevin woke me up at like 6 am. I am so used to the cows, chickens and dogs that I can sleep right through it but he has never experienced this before and took it as a sign to get up super early. Obviously, I made him go back to sleep :)

Some things to know about the farm: There is no internet, the TV is small and has very basic cable, and we also did not have a car of our own. My dad came with a rental later, but it was a stick, which neither of us know how to drive. A lot of people get extremely bored on farms like this but I always loved it. It was a way to disconnect and be present. People are also in and out all day and I just love to talk to them!

Then again, I had never brought anyone with me before, let alone a boyfriend. Kevin loved it and all the attention he got but I didn't realize how ansty he might get. Because he isn't fluent in Portuguese, it wasn't like he could just have a conversation with people who were in and out all day. Also, since we started dating, we really become more adventerous and he was having a hard time accepting the fact that we couldn't just take the car and go exploring. I realized now we should have probably rented our own car, and we are definitely doing this next time.

Regardless, he pretty much met the majority of my family and really felt at home. We did end up going out a few times to visit family that lives in other places, go to waterfalls, and then to Belo Horizonte for the last three days!

Since two weeks is hard to put into words, here is the recap in the form of photos and captions: (Enjoy!)

 Fazenda Padre Nosso "Our Father Farm"

Fazenda Padre Nosso
"Our Father Farm"

 The farm is about 2 miles away from Materlandia (the town) so before my dad got there with the car we would just walk every day

The farm is about 2 miles away from Materlandia (the town) so before my dad got there with the car we would just walk every day

 View from the varanda

View from the varanda

 Getting some training sessions in with my sister ;)

Getting some training sessions in with my sister ;)

 Turned him into a cowboy! Check the boots ;)

Turned him into a cowboy! Check the boots ;)

 My mom taking over my grandmother's role - ironing!

My mom taking over my grandmother's role - ironing!

 And laundry. All of it is done by hand!

And laundry. All of it is done by hand!

 Did I mention my family is known for their cheese?!

Did I mention my family is known for their cheese?!

 My uncle makes regular cheese seen on the bottom called "Queijo Mineiro" or Cheese of Minas. The top one is a new aged one he has been trying out and it is SO. GOOD. He plans to sell it in the U.S. soon!

My uncle makes regular cheese seen on the bottom called "Queijo Mineiro" or Cheese of Minas. The top one is a new aged one he has been trying out and it is SO. GOOD. He plans to sell it in the U.S. soon!

 My Tio Marquinho making cheese. My dad calls him Jose which was my grandfather's name. When he died, my uncle took over the business :)

My Tio Marquinho making cheese. My dad calls him Jose which was my grandfather's name. When he died, my uncle took over the business :)

 My favorite spot.

My favorite spot.

 My other favorite spot. The best part of this house is everyone gathering at this table at any time of day to talk. 

My other favorite spot. The best part of this house is everyone gathering at this table at any time of day to talk. 

 Kevin hates reading but he was going a little crazy so I gave him one of mine and he read it in TWO days! Also note the sign my aunt put up for him above his bed! 

Kevin hates reading but he was going a little crazy so I gave him one of mine and he read it in TWO days! Also note the sign my aunt put up for him above his bed! 

 Typical meal: Rice and beans (always), ribs, tomatoes and plantains

Typical meal: Rice and beans (always), ribs, tomatoes and plantains

 Waterfall we went to in Milho Verde

Waterfall we went to in Milho Verde

 Acai bowls. Honestly considering opening a brewery/acai bar somewhere around here. What do ya'll think?

Acai bowls. Honestly considering opening a brewery/acai bar somewhere around here. What do ya'll think?

 Every single day a meal like this is made for lunch (almoco) - Rice and beans are staples, some kind of meat, vegetables, and I can't even tell you how good a fried egg tastes over all of it.

Every single day a meal like this is made for lunch (almoco) - Rice and beans are staples, some kind of meat, vegetables, and I can't even tell you how good a fried egg tastes over all of it.

 The two Marias who work there: Cooking, cleaning, making coffee ALL day

The two Marias who work there: Cooking, cleaning, making coffee ALL day

 Feeding the chickens! There's dogs, cats, chickens, you name it literally everywhere. Also that table in the front is where they dry all their dishes.

Feeding the chickens! There's dogs, cats, chickens, you name it literally everywhere. Also that table in the front is where they dry all their dishes.

 Apparently I'd forgotten how to gracefully milk a cow

Apparently I'd forgotten how to gracefully milk a cow

 Walking to Materlandia! This town is so small you can see the whole thing when you pull up to it from the main road. I love it :)

Walking to Materlandia! This town is so small you can see the whole thing when you pull up to it from the main road. I love it :)

 We had a cousin reunion on my mom's side! Like I said my mom is 1 of 16. I counted 30+ cousins that were not even in this picture!

We had a cousin reunion on my mom's side! Like I said my mom is 1 of 16. I counted 30+ cousins that were not even in this picture!

 Kevin always had the longest arms and became the designated selfie-taker. Last get-together before we left!

Kevin always had the longest arms and became the designated selfie-taker. Last get-together before we left!

 In Belo Horizonte we reunited with my dad's side for my aunt's 60th birthday (She's the third one to the right in the back row. Next to her is my dad.)

In Belo Horizonte we reunited with my dad's side for my aunt's 60th birthday (She's the third one to the right in the back row. Next to her is my dad.)

 Three breast cancer survivors: My Tia Eldi, Tia Heloiza, and my mom <3 

Three breast cancer survivors: My Tia Eldi, Tia Heloiza, and my mom <3 

 Found a brewery so he was happy :) Direct quote: "I think I am the only Irish person to have every ordered an Irish Pale Ale here."

Found a brewery so he was happy :) Direct quote: "I think I am the only Irish person to have every ordered an Irish Pale Ale here."

 My dad and grandfather!

My dad and grandfather!

 On our last day my aunt and uncle took us shopping at Mercado Central which is a huge indoor marketplace in Belo Horizonte. We got tons of things like bamboo shot glasses (duh), guava paste, spices and havaianas!

On our last day my aunt and uncle took us shopping at Mercado Central which is a huge indoor marketplace in Belo Horizonte. We got tons of things like bamboo shot glasses (duh), guava paste, spices and havaianas!

 It didn't rain ONCE during our entire three weeks until our last afternoon there! This is at my aunt and uncle's house and I am obsessed with that outside area. Kevin wanted to lay on the hammock but it was soaked

It didn't rain ONCE during our entire three weeks until our last afternoon there! This is at my aunt and uncle's house and I am obsessed with that outside area. Kevin wanted to lay on the hammock but it was soaked

I really hope you enjoyed this pictures! It means a lot to be able to share this experience here. If you've every traveled to Brazil or want to, let's talk about it! 

Have a good weekend :)