The town is colonial, with cobbled streets, many lovely buildings with balconies painted in different colours and baroque style churches sprouting from the steep hill sides.
It is a historical mining town, known mainly for the massive amount of gold it produced - all dug up by black slaves. We visited a mine called Mina de Chico Rei, which we crawled through with hard hats on. Luckily there was a Portugese guy on the tour who translated for us.
The woman who owns the house next to the mine entrance didn't know she had a mine in the back yard till her son discovered the entrance 50 odd years ago. It has an amazing history as the black slaves that worked it used to secretely collect the gold dust and rub it into their skin with whale fat. They would leave the mines and bathe and somehow collect the gold dust from the water. They used the gold they collected to decorate their own church in the town. The mine was eventually bought by an enslaved King from the Belgium Congo (Chico). He was highly respected and used the gold to buy first his own freedom, then the freedom of other black slaves.
Our next delightful overnight bus ride of 11 hours will take us to the city of 11 million - Sao Paulo. Having seen images of the plane crash and heard about the dodgy airport, we're glad we're not flying this leg...
Our first overnight bus journey left Rio at around midnight. I was a bit apprehensive, but it was fine. Half the city seemed to be at the bus station and we finally worked out the right bus from the many platforms. It was a Utila bus and very comfortable, with plenty of leg room and reclining seats. Still, sleeping was a bit of a trial and was only really on and off for the twisting and turning (and caning!) 7 hour journey to Ouro PrÍto. We arrived, somewhat bleary-eyed and disorientated, around 6.30am. It's really weird to just wake up somewhere with no bloody idea how you actually got there! The sight of the sun rising over the mountains beyond the pretty town in the valley was a glorious welcome and we luckily found a room at a pousada (guesthouse) on the mountain side and had a morning nap. The pousada is amongst the trees and we later eat breakfast on the balcony overlooking the town, hypnotised by the many hummingbirds buzzing around us.