Best of Brazil

Best of Brazil: Central do Maranhão and Mirinzal

Neither of these two towns – Central do Maranhão nor Mirinzal – located in the interior of the state of Maranhão, will top any list of tourist spots in Brazil. In fact, as we visited them a couple weeks ago it was clear to us that the people there were largely unaccustomed to seeing outsiders.

What makes these two out-of-the way Brazilian villages candidates for a “Best of Brazil” post? Simply this: I believe they represent truly what is the best of Brazil. The community, tradition, history, and genuine (as opposed to synthetic, made-for-tourist) culture are some of the characteristics that I enjoy the most in this country. I picked these two towns because of our recent visit, but they could be any number of similar small towns that dot the landscape of Brazil.

Incidentally, the reason for our visit was so that Itacyara and a couple of her siblings could revisit the area where their parents and extended family grew up.

To visit Central and Mirinzal, we first had to get off the island, which meant taking this ferry boat.
One of the first things I noticed upon our arrival was this defunct factory.
Another view of the factory ruins. Apparently it used to manufacture sugar cane products.
Açaí, coveted by Americans for its alleged health benefits, literally grows on trees here.
It’s also sold a lot, although the packaging is not usually quite so large… (by the way, “juçara” is the local name for “açaí”)
While driving to Mirinzal one morning I happened by this brick factory. Of course I had to stop and take a look.
The bricks are formed by this simple, yet sophisticated, process.
Recently formed bricks, awaiting the kiln.
A worker pauses before taking another load of bricks to be baked. As we watched, I pointed out to Nathanael that this process was not too far removed from that used to build the cities of Babylon and Nineveh.

Brazil’s interior is an immensely fascinating place. Perhaps if you visit us sometime, we can show you around.


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