We had to retrace our path from the campsite back over the 4×4 track. We only got stuck once but Jason was able to maneuver out of the crevice after I hopped out for a photo. Still, it was a slow ride – one that proved 1 horsepower sometimes trumps 60.
We had read that you could tour the old gold mine at Minas Da Passagem. Bode is really into mining (via Minecraft) and has hopes of striking it rich in these here parts. He says the gold that he will discover will fund his future businesses: an amusement park and an importing açaí to America. First things first – we needed check out the mine.
They claim this is the biggest gold mine in the world (that allows visitors anyway), and it stretches from under the town of Ouro Preto to the town of Mariana, with 30 km of tunnels. Of course, the best part is riding the trolly 315 meters down.
Slaves as young as 5 were sent down here for 6 hour shifts, around the clock. In every 1,000 kilograms of stone crushed, about a gram of powdered gold was found. Many died of pulmonary problems and rock slides. The Portuguese empire took their ‘royal fifth’ , or 20% of all the gold discovered. Slaves were allowed to work extra nights and Sundays for their own profit, and some were able to buy their freedom. There is a 2 mile crystal clear lake down there, which is high in sulfur so you aren’t’ allowed to swim in it (but it is open to divers). Still, this seems like a plausible livelihood for Bode.