Destination gamblers // family finders // Brazil acclimatisers
Brazil Part One – where we get adopted
We started our Brazil trip with a bit of a wild card destination. Miguel Pereira is a tiny mountain town about 2-3 hours drive from Rio. Googling ‘things to do in Miguel Pereira’ brings up a lake and not much else really. So why did we go there?! Well, DB and I both have fairly stressful jobs and felt like a few days in a mountain retreat would be the perfect way to unwind and relax and prepare ourselves for the chaos of the Rio Carnival.
We found Pousada Beija-Flor through booking.com, and were sold by the remote location, pool and hammocks so booked it up on a whim. We figured if it was terrible it would be a funny anecdote we could tell back home. As it happened, it turned out to be a magical place up in the mountain rainforest that was run by some of the kindest people we have ever met.
Pousada Beija-Flor has 4 chalets and a bedroom in the main house with high ceilings and lots of dark wood everywhere – think jungle plantation style. It is surrounded by rainforest in the middle of nowhere, so don’t expect lots of tourist activities or places to eat/drink. The owner is a guy called Renato who has built this place up himself, and runs it with his girlfriend Patricia. Across the river he also owns some farmland where he grows fruits and plantain and keeps a pig called ‘Pork’, ducks, chickens and fish. There is a river running alongside the grounds and DB was brave enough to go for a swim.
It’s a running joke among our friends and family that whenever DB and I go away together it always always rains, so to be honest, we were expecting the worst. However Brazil in February was very kind to us. When we were in Miguel Pereira it was about 35 degrees every day. We could lounge by the pool and sit out on the veranda in the evenings.
I’d been a bit apprehensive about coming to Brazil as a vegetarian, but I needn’t have worried. Breakfasts were large and leisurely with fruits, cereals, yoghurts and eggs cooked freshly for us. But the main meal of the day was lunchtime – we tended to spend mornings lounging by the pool and would then be called up to the main house for lunch at about 2pm by Renato or Patricia. It was just like being at home and having your parents call you to come eat. Lunches tended to have a lot of rice, beans and vegetables in enormous quantities. DB got to sample a selection of meats. Patricia would make delicious Brazilian desserts that we just had to eat no matter how full we were. Personal favs were a caramel thing made with condensed milk, a guarana bar with feta-like cheese, and a coconut cake with egg yolk. After lunch Renato would sit with us and we’d look at cook books together and talk about what he’d make for dinner that evening. Renato seemed to see my vegetarianism as a great project to help him learn more recipes, which was so lovely of him. He said his daughter is veggie too so he would be able to impress her with the new recipes.
We loved and were loved
After a day in the sun we’d go back to our chalet and relax some more on the veranda in the hammock and hang out with Popcorn and Breezy – Renato’s pet dogs. Pousada Beija-Flor runs an honesty bar, which again contributed to the feeling that we were staying with family. We had one afternoon of rain in the rainforest, but somehow even that added to the whole Miguel Pereira experience. We sat in the dining room in the big house, drinking honesty beers, eating delicious food and listening to the rain thundering down. That evening, as every other evening, Renato sat with us and – with the help of a Portuguese/English dictionary – we’d chat about our lives, our jobs, our families and our plans for the future. It was so strange feeling like we were somewhere we were always meant to be, with people we were always meant to meet.
Things that I want to remember forever about Pousada Beija-Flor and Renato:
* Although he was very keen on teaching us Portuguese, the language we understood each other most in was French so we would chat most easily en Francais.
* Renato and Patricia treated us like family.
* In fact, Renato said I reminded him of his daughter because she is small and veggie too. He would kiss me on the head and call me little girl.
* We were the first non-Brazilian guests they had ever had.
* Renato does not like Rio, he said it is very dangerous, and we should get cabs everywhere. This made me nervous about going.
* The feeling of sitting in the hammock on the veranda, hair drying in the last of the sunlight, watching DB and Renato watering the plants, and talking about gardening and sustainable energy. It was such a beautiful scene I wanted to capture everything about it. Sitting at my desk at work, or on the train I can still take myself back there every single time.
Have our holiday
We flew with British Airways from Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro.
Transfers were with a company called Green Toad – our driver Elson loved Sting and the Police and had a 66 song compilation that we worked through.
We stayed in Pousada Beija-Flor in the mountain chalet and booked through booking.com
If you do stay here remember to bring cash – you can use a card to reserve on the website, but then you’ll have to pay the balance and any bar charges in cash when you check out. As I mentioned, it’s pretty remote so you won’t be able to just pop to a cash machine.
On the one hand I want to tell everyone I’ve ever met how amazing Pousada Beija-Flor was, but on the other I want to keep this little mountain paradise a secret – I guess I’ve told you now though, so the word is out!
Read all about the next stage of our trip- Rio De Janeiro HERE.