Nova Friburgo, RJ, Brazil
Even after living here for 6 years and with no end in sight, I still don’t think of Friburgo as MY TOWN. It is just the place, the closest commercial center to where our home is. If viewed from atop the highest point, from the cable car it is beautiful, white and glistening. It is a medium sized town set in a beautiful location; the surrounding countryside is made up of granite outcrops, deep river valleys and lush forests, but from the ground, Friburgo is not a picturesque place. The central area – the town in general has a feel of neglect and poverty.
The city stretches along the river, running right along side and through a valley. The majority of Friburgo is about 4 blocks wide – having only two major streets. There are areas that bulge off and up the mountainside but I would not say the streets are major ones. The little side streets curve and twist up the hills giving access to the uncontrolled growth of houses and stores way above the central area.
Like Rio, Friburgo is made up of Barrios – some with very distinct flavors, some better cared for than others, some seeming very close to favelas though no one here would call them that. For example, Conego is a nice middle class area with fenced in yards and freshly painted homes. It has several nice (but not fancy) restaurants and a general upscale look. But other areas like the one right about the city center leaves me with a feeling of frustration, claustrophobia.
On Sunday, a bright sunny day, I spent about an hour walking around the Praça Marcilho Dias and its converging main streets. The highway RJ-116 (Av. Gov. Geremias de Mattos Tontes), Av. Cmte. Bittencourt and Av. Conselheiro Julius Arp join at a ‘round about’. Last year the city added a garden in the center (without crosswalks to get to it safely) that on Sunday had several families out playing with their children and dogs. There is a beautifully painted sign facing the road that says " please save the plants, do not walk you dog….
Finally my 4 corners… actually a circle with 4 converging streets. I took photos Sunday a sunny, quiet day and pulled from my files photos from a rainy day and a mid-week day. Trying to show the volume of cars and people circle this park on a daily basis.
There are trucks, busses and cars, school children, beggars, card players and old men on park benches, Churches, bus stops, grocery stores, bars, apartments and, of course, cars.
Did I say ‘and more CARS’? Today Camillo and I were on Av Alberto Braune – THE main drag through central. It was a mad house. If I were to say ONE problem here in Friburgo I would say TRAFFIC. Brazil has proudly announced that the economy here is very strong…. there was a 30% increase in sales of CARS. Where are we supposed to put 30% more. If you want – go to photo album for more highlights of this town.