Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais (meaning General Mines), reputedly the home of the friendliest people in Brazil. I stayed a week. 90% of it on my laptop in bed. It rained non-stop and so I missed much of Minas Gerais. The one day it stopped raining was a Monday. All the museums are closed on a Monday, bar one, which I mistook for a bank.
I became friends with an America hippy in his thirties named Justin. Long hair, beard, ashtanga yoga instructor, mixed martial arts enthusiast. He came to Brazil with $1,000 and a return ticket he knew he would miss, his plan to stay for three months. It was hilarious talking to him about tinder. These girls wanted to sleep with him, he just wanted a free place to sleep. Their mothers were always suspicious of his intentions, never questioning their own daughters. He offered English language instruction in exchange. He claimed to be fluent in Portuguese. In reality, he didn’t speak much more than me, as I learned one evening watching him spend 5 minutes trying to ask the night hostel security if they had an umbrella, with no idea what the word was. Guarda-chuva – literally rain-guard, I asked. We travelled to the museums together, on the advice of the friendly hostel owner, only to be told they were all closed. Justin suggested Praca do Papa, a square on a hill offering a view of the whole of Belo Horizonte. Watching him ask several Brazilians for directions to a bus to the square, I realized that his Portuguese was as bad as mine.