Opinion – Zeca Camargo: One more point for nature


Let’s go for another chapter in the fierce dispute between urban and nature destinations? You who accompany me here already know where my preference is: blatantly in favor of cities. But then you spend a weekend on Capitol Hill and…

The mining town has been on my radar for some time. In fact, not just mine. Capitol quickly grew up the priority list of tourist destinations. A decade ago, it was a secret treasure, for few.

But, for a few years now, the visits started to grow. Dodging the difficulty of access (almost six hours by car from São Paulo and, from Belo Horizonte, about five hours by road) the place gained prominence only through word of mouth.

It’s not for less. The artificial lake created during the construction of the Furnas plant transformed the landscape, which was already dramatic, into a stupendous setting. Canyons, which would already be impressive, with the waters that filled that space became cinematic. The occupation by tourists like us was a matter of time.

It then arrived in the 2010s. As with all rapid growth, it came in a somewhat haphazard way. People from all over Brazil wanted to see that wonder, and the small Capitólio, the most tourist center in the region, rushed to welcome everyone.

Several inns appeared with that privileged view of the lake. And even the simplest accommodations in the city began to receive guests with maximum attention —after all, we are in Minas Gerais, right? Yes, I am from Minas Gerais too, from Uberaba, but I write this impartially. Swear!

The mixture of this hospitality with the natural beauties helped to boost tourism even more and everything indicated that, in 2022, Capitólio was ready for a boom in visitors. Then came the accident.

On January 8 of this year, a rock collapsed from one of the lake’s most visited canyons, and the news made that beautiful attraction even better known — not exactly for good reason. Ten people died in the accident.

The enthusiasm to get to know the region naturally cooled down. Experts summoned by the news promptly said that the landslide was inevitable, due to the rains, but care for tourists needed more attention.

Invited by the city itself to discover the region, I was there last week, and it seems that the lessons have been learned. The sadness of the incident is present like a dull echo in the part of the lake where it all happened. But solemn beauty too.

The visit is now almost solitary. Only one boat enters space at a time and travels through those waters practically in silence. The solitude of the tour reveres not only the fatal victims, but also the wonderful nature. And, as she has already shown, powerful.

It was an exercise in contemplation. Especially since, as we are in late autumn, temperatures are already lower and we are not distracted by the easy temptations of summer.

Colder water may not be inviting for a dip. Even less for a waterfall bath, which I stubbornly took in Canela de Ema — something that, I confess, I only faced because of the promise, kept, to taste the best meat in the can in all of Minas Gerais.

But there are charms that only this time of year offers, like the light of a dawn on top of a balloon embracing what everyone affectionately calls Mar de Minas. Or a sunset at Morro do Chapéu.

And that’s how, once again, I found myself forced to think if nature, as an attraction, doesn’t beat the city. The final score is still open.

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