Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good fences make good neighbors - Joanopolis

This is an extremely dark photo of Portão 4 (Gate 4) of our friends' fazenda in Joanopolis. Gate 4 happens to be the entrance to the lovely house we rent at the top of the hill. You know, the Alemão (German house). Outside this gate is the highway (hahahahaha! it's a dirt road rarely wide enough for two cars much less the eucalyptus-stuffed trucks) to São Francisco Xavier or Joanopolis. It remains locked when we are not there, and this is the only vehicle entrance to the property.

While the car entrances to the fazenda (and our small rented piece of it) are all locked continuously, the law of the land around the area is that you can easily pass through a neighbor's property without someone getting huffy. The paths and dirt roads are open to people. They are not, however, marked, which led to a very exciting day when we almost missed a flight to the US because we got lost.

I assume that if an enterprising tour company started dropping off busloads of people at the end of the driveway, the rule might change a bit.  But for now, you can just wander through your neighbor's huge forests...with one possible exception. Serra Azul ("Blue Ridge") the enormous fazenda behind our hillside, is manned (dogged?) by three or so fierce "pups" (demon dogs from hell). We tend to send the ranch hand ahead to ask for permission to cross through so we are not eaten. No worries about the ranch hand, okay? He is not our customary sacrifice but rather someone who is known by the dogs and humans there.

A few years ago the owners of our fazenda had to reinforce all of the fences around their property. One of their least-favorite (oh, I am nice today) neighbors was not feeding his buffaloes enough and they would break through the fences to go eat our friends' hydrangeas, corn, whatever they could find on their property. Buffaloes are pretty strong. Really strong. That is some big-time damage. Finally our friends had to sue the neighbor and he had to remove all of the buffaloes from his property. I don't miss those big animals--Brazilian buffaloes are fairly ugly. Bring on some American bison!

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