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Lapidary, Imperial Topaz Mine & Gold Mine

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Ouro Preto, MG, Brazil 

August 22, 2009 08:30 a.m. ( local time )

August 22 - Saturday: Ouro Preto:

What a day.

Early in the morning we headed to downtown Ouro Preto to visit the lapidary studio of Mr. Hugo. Around 5 to 7 lapidary work in there. Mr. Hugo is the master lapidary and performed a complete job of facetting a rough topaz for our guests to see. From cutting an imperial topaz to obtain the eye clean part, to pre-form it, then making the base facets. After another lapidary takes over cutting the actual facets and giving the gem its final form. Finally another makes the polishing and high polishing making the gem ready to mount in jewellery. the Australina couple was amazed on how the lapidary worked in such a free artistic way, completely different from everything they have seen before. It is all recorded in video you can see below parts of it and all parts on you tube at:

After the amazing demonstration we drioe to Antonio Pereira (is a village located in Ouro Preto County) to visit open pit public imperial topaz mine. Over there the oldest "garimpeiro" called "cheirinho" with means little smell was already waiting for us. Garimpeiros weren't working that day due to a rain early in the morning, which makes the work to be dangerous, causing land slip. However we tour through the whole area and serveral pits were explained by other garimpeiros as well. We were always followed by tens of other garimpeiros willing to sell us their stuff. After the tour mine we went to the house of one of them, where they could display and show all their merchandise and the guests and I bought some gems there.

Afterwards we headed down, still in downtown Antonio Pereira, to the bottom of the valley, to the river where if we had luck we could see people freely gold panning. And we again had that luck: at least one of the oldest gold miner was there doing his job. And this was amazing to see he obtaining gold nuggets right on spot! We visited the whole area and all the geology was detailed explained by our local guide Dr. Antonio Liccardo and our guest friend José Jaime.

Good part: going to the restaurant, as this is now lunch time. We chose to get a restaurant right in town, as part of geotourism concept, that is, besides getting to know local people behave and lifestyle, to contribute with the community by leaving the money right there in the community we visit. What a luck again. We found a small fish farm and family restaurant, where they served us almost privately a very lout meal based on freshly caught fish and local food, all traditionaly cooked on wood stove, as this required by the best "mineiro cooking" practice.

Next and on the way back to Ouro Preto, we stopped in a village called Passagem de Mariana (Mariana Passage in English) to visit the old and biggest gold mine in country. This a deactivated mine now open to tourist visitation. There is mine cart that take us 300 metres down were the galleries are fenomenal. The natural lakes formed underground are amazingly clean and scuba diving is thought in there. Besides all the historic and statistic facts told by the mine guide, geology was explained in all details by Dr. Toni.

When out of the mine my phone rang and that was an old friend of mine (university peer) who lives right in the same village calling me and my guests to visit him, as we haven't met each other for more than 10 years. It took me a while to decide whether or not we would be going there. I finally decide to go. Over there our guests could enjoy a very nice barroque style house with a backyard full of fruits, birds and monkeys. That was nice.

Yet before finishing the day we headed to the Mineralogy Museum of the School of Mine in Ouro Preto. Over there at the museum I was fortunate to see a team restoring old picture frames of the graduating groups, and my group was one of them on the spot. This museum is the biggest and best in Brazil, having more than 18,000 specimens. After visiting 2 rooms the museum was closed, but because we were ex graduate, me and Dr. Toni, the museum was authorized to be open only for us. Thank you...

After the visitation we were provided with a multi-media room for Dr. Toni to give us a talk on geotourism and an overview and geological aspects on our tour.

What a day...

Night we went to a nice restaurant and we also had access to a closed soapstone sculpture and artifacts fair with my friend Luciano.

Ouro Preto was untold. Was in style with all the mist and a little cold. Marvelous...

Night at the "Pousada Sinhá Olimpia", a tipical barroque architecture bread & breakfast very, very cozy... Tchau...

Lapidary work at Mr. Hugo studio

Lapidary work at Mr. Hugo studio

Mr. Hugo lapidary displaying facetted gems

Mr. Hugo lapidary displaying facetted gems

Ani (guest) lookin up facetted gems

Citrine Gemstone

Dealers show their gems at Mr. Hugo lapidary studio.

Lapidary Studio

Watermelon tourmaline slices shown at Mr. Hugo lapidary studio.

Farm fish and restaurant

Local family owned restaurant in Antonio Pereira: This is Geotourism.

Overlook at Antonio Pereira Mine

Garimpeiros & dealers at Antonio Pereira Mine

Garimpeiros & dealers at Antonio Pereira Mine

Garimpeiros & dealers at Antonio Pereira Mine

Walking by Antonio Pereira Mine

Walking by Antonio Pereira Mine

A nice imperial topaz facetted

Walking by Antonio Pereira Mine

Toni and JJ at Antonio Pereira Mine

Imperial Topaz Specimen

Our friend JJ shows a beautiful specimen handed to us by one of the miners at the Antonio Pereira public imperial topaz mine.

Antonio Pereira Imperial Topaz

Showing a cavity where a crystal had been recently taken off.

Garimpeiros displaying their treasures nearby

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold panning in Antonio Pereira

Gold nuggets showing up

Mine cart coming up to take a group

Mine cart loaded (the Zealy couple in)

Mine cart running right down

Inside the underground Gold Mine

Dr. Toni giving the group gelogical explanations of the gold vains and mining.

Natural lake inside underground gold mine

Inside the Gold Mine

This is a little altar built by the miners in honour of the Miners' protector Saint Barbara. Ani Montgomery in highlight.

Mine cart going up

Ulymar's friend house: picking jaboticaba

Ulymar's friend house: tasting jaboticaba

Ulymar's friend house: showing jaboticaba

Ulymar's friend house: showing jaboticaba

Ulymar's friend house: tasting jaboticaba

Ulymar's friend house: seeing monkeys

Ulymar's friend house: playing monkeys

Ulymar's friend house: playing monkeys

Ulymar's friend house: playing monkeys

Restaurant: traditional "mineiro" kitchen

Fresh fish meal

Restaurant: traditional "mineiro" kitchen

Restaurant: traditional "mineiro" kitchen

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