In the midst of the dry season and the scorching heat, the rains had migrated to other parts.
Several rural fires spread in the distance and the fires spread in areas they should not even come close.
We follow the trail that leads to the Véu de Noiva waterfall. We crossed paths with firefighters, some of them, melted, returning from the flame front. Others, clad in the space-yellow uniform in which Brazilian peacekeepers fight, saluting their colleagues and asking theirs for guidance to better deal with the hell that awaits them.
in much of vast Cerrado, fires happen just and just because. They burn to God because of a burden, exhaustion or an untimely rain.
On these sides that we were exploring, the Cerrado could not be left to God-given.
The local Véu de Noiva waterfall is the scenic star of a domain in such a special way that the authorities have declared it a national park, with the responsibility of preservation that such a title entails.
When, after passing several more firefighters, we finally arrived at the viewpoint, we were dazzled by the view ahead.
We immediately perceive the reverence he has won.
The Outstanding View of the Bride's Veil Waterfall
Out of nowhere, the Cerrado appears cornered in a geological dead end, in an open U-shape, made of pink stone. From there, the scene becomes three-dimensional. We see the green and leafy at the bottom of the unexpected canyon.
Above, between the sky and the rocky ceiling, a more rarefied and parched forest that extends until the mist engulfs it.
And joining the two levels, a torrent in fall of 86 meters, due to the summer, with reduced flow, but that the wind made undulating.
Elias Silva, the host guide, makes us notice how the smoke dispersed and suffocated the immensity around.
“In normal weather, we could even go and explore Stone Town that is far away. So, let's go for a walk along the waterfalls trail.”
No sooner said than done. But dissatisfied. By comparison with the initial water jump, the waterfalls and cascades that followed proved to be samples of banality.
We speed up the pace. We left the park earlier than expected.
Towards the city of Chapada de Guimarães, which serves as an urban center for the homonymous park.
There, we enter an inn.
The City of Chapada dos Guimarães, formerly Serra Acima
We set out again to discover the small village, which, as expected, we find organized around a leafy square and the blue and white colonial church of Nª Srª de Santana do Sacramento, built in 1726, now flanked by a leafy jacaranda tree. .
We appreciate the multicolored ground floor houses, occupied by craft and souvenir shops, snack bars and similar establishments.
And a series of “buzzers” in the shape of the emblematic animals of the cerrado, the macaw, the jaguar and others.
In its colonial beginnings, the outline of this village existed known as “Serra Acima”, a camp of indigenous Chiquitos, located at an altitude of 800m.
The Mineiro Past of Serra Acima, Improved while Chapada dos Guimarães
It was founded by the first count of Azambuja and the 10th viceroy of Brazil, António Rolim Tavares. And the Jesuit Estevão de Castro managed it, only until the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portuguese territories dictated by the Marquis of Pombal, forced him to disband.
Sierra Above evolved. In 1769, it received the much more pompous name of Santa Anna da Chapada dos Guimarães Miramar, in part, as a tribute to the Portuguese family that was most devoted to it.
The village grew. She got richer. Fruit of the profit generated by prospecting for gold, first carried out by the pioneers, then by determined prospectors.
Its income also increased, agricultural and livestock production and the twenty brandy mills, in the meantime established.
Together, the gold rush, the abundance of brandy and the oppression of black and indigenous slaves generated an unstable and problematic community that, newly endowed with the Christian temple of Santana do Sacramento, the religious tried to tame.
The situation remained so when, from 1867 onwards, an outbreak of smallpox spawned by the War of Paraguay, the intensification of attacks by the Coroados Indians and, later, the Abolition of Slavery, condemned the Chapada dos Guimarães to a backwater.
The city recovered. It became the largest municipality on the face of the Earth, with a territory of 270 thousand km.2, however, divided among several emerging municipalities.
Chapada dos Guimarães, City still with a lot of Portuguese
Today, it houses almost twenty thousand people from Chapada. Until 2015, two of them were Vera Lúcia Ramalho (with parents from Leiria) and Vinício Correia de Lima, son of Azoreans from Ponta Delgada.
They met in Rio de Janeiro. Later, they moved to Chapada. There they founded the current “Estilo Bacalhau e Vinho”, a restaurant where they only served dishes and specialties based on their faithful friend.
In 2015, Vinício de Lima passed away. Accordingly, only his widow received us, happy to have visitors from the “holy land”, so she shows us the kitchen and introduces the maids who worked there.
We were delighted with starters of cod cakes. And with the most tender and succulent cod dish we've ever tasted.
With the next day's program predicting an awakening at seven, after the farewell, we went straight back to the inn.
The Chapada dos Guimarães Water Circuit
It dawns misty. However, the guide in charge of opening the way for us and Elias, Felipe Desidério, is little intimidated. Knowing the area, he turns on the car's four turn signals and speeds flat up and down.
In less than two winding hours, we arrived at Fazenda Buriti, lost in an area that used to be a dense Cerrado that, little by little, the cattle pastures, soybean, cotton and other plantations destroyed.
The refreshing exception was the riparian forest, adjacent to streams and bodies of water, protected by law from greed and rural devastation.
Upon arrival at the farm, among turkeys, guinea hens, macaws, dogs and cats, the guides introduce us and Regiani – a client of Felipe’s – to Dª Márcia and Paulo, both surnamed Santos, and their children. of four and five years.
We chatter a little. The redneck family is in charge of preparing a barbecue lunch.
We went out to the Águas do Cerrado Circuit, around his site, along the water courses and the rainforest that the farmers were forced to save. The waterfalls do not excite us.
We are rewarded with the invigorating bath in a crystal clear river well, in the shape of a heart and, as such, known as Pocinho do Amor.
We returned, hungry, when Márcia and Paulo were improving the barbecue. For an hour, we delight in their snacks.
And then the Caves Circuit
Then, we set off for a new circuit, this time, designed according to several hyperbolic or eccentric caves in Chapada.
A small bus takes us and other hikers to the beginning of the trail, which is sandy and, in spaces, given over to a prodigious forest.
The first cave we find is called Aroe Jari.
It became the hallmark of the circuit due to a serpentine strip of damp moss that, due to the light that penetrates, gives the impression of a shallow river.
At around 4:30 in the afternoon, the sun's rays hit the entrance to the next cave. They make the turquoise tone of its water shine and justify the name of Lagoa Azul.
The final cave, Kiogo Brado, proves to be massive.
It hides its own internal trail of 764 meters, which we walk through, equipped with frontals, dazzled by the large exit corridor, crammed between walls that erosion bequeathed with different mossy strata.
We return to the starting point with the afterglow coloring the Cerrado sky and, already at night, to the logistical base of Chapada dos Guimarães.
In its heyday, the fertile lands around Chapada dos Guimarães supplied other cities in the Mato Grosso valley, especially Cuiabá.
In the vicinity of Chapada, there is a viewpoint installed on the exact equidistant place between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Cuiabá and the Geodesic Center of South America
In Cuiabá, however, there is a point with superior geographical importance. We also went there.
A tiled needle at the heart of Praça Pascoal Moreira Cabral points to the sky.
It marks the geodesic center of South America, as determined in 1909 by the Brazilian Marshal Cândido Rondon.
Rondon became such a highly regarded figure in Brazil that Rondônia, the state northwest of Mato Grosso and below the immense Amazon, was named in his honor.
In the past, Praça Pascoal Moreira Cabral was known as Campo d'Ourique. There the slaves were whipped and there the horse riding and bullfights took place.
Much later, it hosted the Municipal Council of Cuiabá and the Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso.
The obelisk we were examining appears both on the flag of Cuiabá and on the emblem of the Cuiabá Esporte Clube.
Just a few months before the creation of this text, António Oliveira was hired to coach that same time. At the time, he became the fifth Portuguese coach in the 2021-2022 season to play in the main championship of Brazil.
It thus assumed its own prominent role in the Brasileirão and in the same or more scorching South American heartland.