This weekend my Husband, son, and I took advantage of the abnormally mild weather to “passear,” or take a walk. We went to the Pampulha Zoo, or “Zoológico de Belo Horizonte.”
Normally, this time of year doesn’t bode well for family outings for a whole collage of logistical reasons. First, my husband works hard during the week and looks forward to sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday. So morning outings are a no-go. Unfortunately, sleeping in and “going with the flow” is a rare luxury due to weather. So when push comes to shove, sleep usually wins, hence my absolute elation when we finally managed to pull off a family outing! Most of the year, the afternoon is so hot that, by the time we carry the baby, baby bag, backpack, purse, and stroller or car seat down two flights of stairs we’ve already sweated so much it’s time to hike everything back up and take a shower… and maybe then a snack… and then a nap. Next thing you know, we’ve got our very own Brazilian version of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” The liturgy of showering, dressing, eating, packing, hauling, sweating, showering, dressing, eating, packi- … IT NEVER ENDSSSSSSSSS.
People often comment on how Brazilians are extremely hygienic, taking two or even three showers every day. After four years here, I am becoming a shower-holic too. Keeping body odor at bay in this heat is a full time job. In addition, anyone using public transportation in Brazil will appreciate the fact that cleanliness is considered integral to one’s dignity. They have the saying, “I’m poor but I’m clean.”
Anyway… what I’m trying to say is that the likelihood of us actually LEAVING the apartment and going on the adventures we plan is a very optimistic 50/50 chance because of the energy it takes to get everyone/everything out and still be presentable. In the blistering heat of January and February, the only thing that could lure us out of the apartment after 10:00 a.m. is the ice-cream buffet.
Fortunately, this Saturday, all things worked together for good. The temperature cooled down suddenly toward the middle of the week due to rain coming through. The abrupt drop in temperature shocked my system, and I was joking on Twitter about bundling myself and my son up like the little kids in The Christmas Story movie. No kidding… for two nights, I slept wearing double layers. But by the weekend, the rain stopped and the temperature started to even out a bit. I was glad to open my windows in the morning without wondering if Narnia’s white witch was banished to Belo Horizonte. Saturday morning I woke to pleasantly crisp temperatures and overcast sky. By Saturday afternoon, the clouds cleared and the sun shone, yet it was still below 80! So my husband slept in, we took our time getting ready, and I’m happy to say we met our ride without breaking a sweat. Phew!
Destination: The Pampulha Zoo, or “Zoológico de Belo Horizonte”
It was a good thing we saved our energy using the 99 taxi service because we did our fair share of walking once we got to the Pampulha Zoo. “Zoológico de Belo Horizonte” is unlike anything I’ve seen in the United States. All of the exhibits are accessible by roads. So it’s great if you own a car because you can drive from one exhibit to the next, park, get out, walk around, take some photos, enjoy some snacks, and then drive to the next one. Exploring this zoo on foot is for the ambitious. But it’s worth the hike. The exhibits are large, and many of the animals come right up to the fence! The elephant was close enough to reach out and touch. I took a selfie with this big bird…
And the peacock was more than happy to perform his romantic dance, fanning his plumes and prancing in a slow circle. The female looked quite enticed. A very enthralled Menasheh mimicked the peacock, gleefully flapping his arms from the stroller.
We also enjoyed watching the turtles all lined up, taking their “banho de sol” or sunbath. Native to Brazil, I marveled, whimsical as it may seem, that even the animals follow in the communal tendencies of the culture here.
In another turtle exhibit, this large guy enjoyed some snacks straight from the vine…
Perhaps the most impressive outdoor exhibit was the bird square. I was amazed to see the variety of rich colors sported by these brazilian birds. Have you ever seen a parrot so indigo-blue that you got a euphoric rush?! These birds are so beautiful! You must come if only to see the birds in person! And if you’re a photographer, you’ll enjoy these little guys… they are quite the posers…
The zoo includes botanical gardens and an aquarium. On foot, it was too much to see in just one afternoon, so we decided to save the botanical gardens for a different outing and headed to the aquarium.
On our way to the aquarium, we passed the cabana with all of the snake exhibits. Wander, my husband, fondly recalled one particular excursion to the zoo with his dad, niece and nephew. My father in law, ever keen and quiet observer that he is, overheard a man and his wife as they gazed through the glass for an illusive serpent… The wife exclaimed, “Where on earth is this snake?” to which the husband replied without so much as a moment’s hesitation, “My dear, you left your mother at home, remember?” The next ten minutes we hiked through fits of laughter.
After unintentionally touring the entire zoo, we finally came back around to the road which led up to the aquarium… oh, if we’d only realized! It was just to the left of the park entrance. But just as well, because we enjoyed seeing all of the exhibits we passed along the way.
The aquarium hosts two rooms of impressively large fresh water tanks, showcasing species native to various regions of Brazil. For my husband and son, this was the highlight of the trip. The room echoed with my toddler’s emphatic babbled commentary on the fish swimming back and forth in front of him. To say he was thrilled would be an understatement. What can I say?! Life is so much more exciting with kids. Their enthusiasm inspires us to stop and enjoy what we’ve grown to take for granted.
After some snacks while resting below this exhibit of lanterns representing different cities in Brazil, it was time to pack up and head home.
As we wandered around trying to find a suitable meeting point for our 99 cab, we passed this awesome curvy mosaic wall. I insisted that we pause and take some family photos to commemorate our lovely afternoon together. Who knows the next time the wind will blow in our favor! We’ll be sure to have another adventure planned for when it does! What would you like to see us do in Belo Horizonte? Leave a comment below with your ideas!
For more information about the zoo and other attractions, follow the link below…
- Government of Belo Horizonte website: