If you have been following me for any length of time, you’ve read my post about traveling in Minas that I wrote last year. Last weekend Camillo and I took a tour to see a local coffee plantation in the State of Rio de Janeiro. This is the second or third coffee plantation that we have visited and I wanted to tie my prior posts to this one – so as to not have to recreate the wheel.
I can’t believe how the time goes by, it seems that I have not written about a visit to Ouro Preto nor about the coffee plantations that we visited mid 2006 with RioRose and the Commandant before they left Brasil, and before I joined Rosemary on her blog in early 2007.
I have a lot of catching up to do.
The coffee plantations, of the 17 and 1800s, are tied, woven, knitted tightly into the history of colonial Brasil and the slave trade that thrived here both legally and illegally until the late 1800s. These vast plantations are now known for their shoddy land management practices; using up the soil with the continuous planting of coffee like was often done in the southern USA with cotton; planting vertically up the hills because it was easier and causing erosion and, most of all, they are known for the large scale clearing of forest all along the eastern seaboard of Brasil.
The royalty of Portugal gave the land and titles away (well that’s what was said but I suspect if you had money you could have a title and the piece of land.) After the freeing of the slaves, and the crash of the coffee market around the world these plantations were left to decay. Now, in the past 25 years or so, they have been sold and some have been recovered; becoming Pousadas, restaurants, tour destinations, small museums documenting this important part of Brazil's cultural heritage.
That really wasn’t a tangent but necessary to set the stage for the photos I am going to show you. The first group is of the two plantations we visited in 2006, and are in The State of Minas Gerais. It is easy to see how well the coffee ‘barons’ lived in comparison to the slaves that made them rich.
I learned this weekend that this avenue of imperial palms (that also grace the Botanical Gardens in Rio) declared that his home and plantation were owned by a ‘Barão’. When the Portuguese King here in Brasil (which is an interesting story in itself) awarded the land and the title, he would give the new Baron a few seeds for the imperial palm. Through time the slaves stole the seeds lying around on the ground and planted them in their own gardens, and they have now become a common sight in the towns surrounding these plantations. If we went into this first house I don’t remember it – maybe we weren’t allowed to take photos – HUM, I should carry a notebook to write down these details that I forget so easily if no captured on the camera.
When we went to the second estate, the house had been restored inside as well as out. There was a sign that said ‘please’ no photos because this was a private home,
but Camillo spoke with the Italian owner…. he is quite charming you know…. and told her I was interested in the architectural features and she said okay take photos but make sure there was someone I knew in each one…. so meet Marissa my granddaughter who was 10 at the time
The first one focused on the gardens, the second the interior of the house and the third, that we visited just this weekend, was more about the history of Brasil, its music, and its slaves. [Pousada Fazenda Ponte Alta, Av. Silas Pereira da Mota, 880, Parque Santana, Barra do Piraí, R J ] (Fazenda is a farm – so this B & B is of the High Point Farm).
The last two photos above are of the slaves quarters, large rooms about 20 ft x 20 ft., at the time there were no windows only large wooden doors, where families of slaves were locked in for the night.