Thursday, July 29, 2010

Concrete heaven (not the dessert)

Pop quiz, hot shot:  You have a cement mixer, some rebar and 60 seconds to build a beacon for the next millenium.  Waddaya do?  Brasilia.  Most people come through here as a stopover to someplace more interesting (which we’re doing), but we’d read a lot about the architecture and how it was considered the “city of the future” when it was built in the 1960s, so we thought we’d stay for a few days.   We arrived early in the morning in Brasilia after a 17 hour bus ride from Sao Joao del Rei and the city opened its hardtop arms to us.  We quickly realized that one aspect of the future will definitely be little hover cars.  As it is, pedestrians are meant to cross eight-lane highways, pass through darkly lit malls and parking lots, and navigate a coordinate-based, block system of Bauhausian addresses to get to where they’re going.  Google Maps and Lonely Planet were basically useless here and the only time we arrived where we wanted was when we used an antiquated but nonetheless effective mode of transport called the “taxi”.  Still, there were surprisingly beautiful parts of the city as well.  The buildings on the main promenade were simple, clean, and unique and the mathematical precision between them was startling.  We thought we were churched out after Minas Gerais, but the Catedral Metropolitana and the Santuario do Dom Bosco were like nothing we’d ever seen before. 

Another positive thing about being in a modern city after two weeks of mineira cuisine was (we’re sad to admit) McDonald’s.  When we tried to order a cheeseburger (literally  listed as “cheeseburger” on the menu), we each independently received blank stares from the staff until their faces lit up and they punched something into the machine.   Imagine our surprise when our meal came with cheesecake pie.

More pictures here:


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