Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows
Our day began with an early pick up at the hotel by our very personable tour guide Luciana. On the drive to Inhotim she told us about Belo Horizonte’s history and helped us with some Portuguese words and pronunciation. Inhotim is located about an hour outside Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais. Well known for the mining of precious metals,specifically gold and iron ore, Minas Gerais is also known for the mining of gems like topaz, amethysts, aquamarines, emeralds and diamonds. Along the way we observed mango trees galore, a million Mimosa-looking species, flowering in every color of the rainbow, plus plumeria, mandevilla and an abundant amount of graffiti, not just in Belo Horizonte but all over BraziI’s cities. Belo Horizonte and its outlying areas are quite hilly which made for an interesting ride in a stick shift van with 8 people on a small road with 42 speed bumps.
I think it’s fair to say that Inhotim took our breath away the minute we arrived. The visitor’s center was like an open air flower festival with fresh stunning arrangements around every corner. A large iridescent cobalt blue butterfly floated by on the breeze as we took a group photo and basked in the seventy-something degree air while we awaited our meeting with Leticia Aguiar, Botanical garden and Environmental Manager. Leticia spent a lot of time with us. She described a relatively new botanic garden (officially only two and a half years old) led by a visionary man who intends to create and promote a contemporary style of living. A garden in a community connected with art, the environment, and people. She told us about their comprehensive ongoing sustainability efforts, many adult and Children’s education programs, and an exciting tree rescue mission just to start. Her presentation about Inhotim’s philosophy reminded us a lot of Longwood’s mission, vision and values.
The garden itself was vast and sweeping- perfectly manicured-down to the valleys and up the mountains with art galleries and pavilions connecting each garden together. We only had time for a few of the galleries. The contemporary art was created specifically for Inhotim. Beautiful or thought provoking each pavilion inspires one back out to the gardens. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of Inhotim’s restaurants in the typical Brazillian buffet style. After a special tour around the production facilities, we had to get on the road to the airport. Sadly, we didn’t see everything Inhotim had to offer that day and so it was difficult to tear ourselves away. It was an inspirational visit however and we are excited about the great work being done and the opportunities forged for future connections as a result of our visit.
A few hours later we boarded the flight to Rio de Janeiro. Emerging from the clouds we found ourselves flying down to a beautiful jewel of a city. Nestled between lagoons and mountains, surrounded by boats and ferries, the city lights were just turning on. It was dusk and Rio looked like a piece of diamond jewelry- twinkling and shimmering in the sunset. Islands dotted the harbor, rainforest sprung up between the buildings and the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer stood above the water welcoming us.