By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
September 26, 2015

An alternative paradise in the state of Minas: Come taste the magic of Sao Thome das Letras.

Located near Trs Coraes, in the state of Minas Gerais, So Thom das Letras is truly a wonder to behold. The best way of getting there is through the Ferno Dias highway, which connects São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. From the highway, one should exit at the city of Trs Coraes and then take the MG-868 road to So Thom.The city lies at the peak of a mountain 1.444 meter above sea levels, surrounded by rolling hills that are full of rivers, waterfalls and caves ready to be explored. The name of the city comes from a local legend, which tells the tale of a runaway slave that entered a cave and found a statue of Saint Thomas.

So Thom is famous for harboring many alternative lifestyles. The city is full of artists and hippies, which form a vibrant and welcoming community. Some also say that So Thom is one of the 7 points of energy of the planet, which attracts many mystics, spiritualists and lovers of the esoteric. This esotericism is quite present in the city. Walking around, one sees places for yoga, meditation, crystal healing and even shamanic rituals. UFO sightings are also very common there, attracting UFO enthusiasts as well.

For those that enjoy partying, the night is very lively there. The city is full of bars playing rock, reggae and other styles of music, and most of them offer free entrance. For those that know how to play, there are even bars that allow you to play with your band or join in with the other musicians. The cachaa from So Thom is also extremely good and cheap, and enthusiasts can find quite a variety of cachaas available. Late-night partiers can also join in the tradition of watching the sunset from the pyramid, a small watchtower located at the very top of the city that offers a dazzling view from the hills around the city.

So Thom is also a great destination for the outdoors lovers. The city is surrounded by mountains that can be freely explored. Those that are adventurous are even free to explore them outside the walking trails, as the lack of thick vegetation makes it easy to do so without getting lost. These mountains are also full of waterfalls such as Shangri-l, Vale das Borboletas, Eubiose and Antares. There are also many grottos that can be explored. Some examples are Gruta do Sobradinho (Sobradinhos Grotto), Gruta So Thom (So Thoms Grotto) and Gruta do Carimbado (Carimbados Grotto).

Those that plan to visit So Thom can stay in inns or in the camping sites around the city. For those that want to focus on the outdoors and have no problem camping, it is recommended to do so. Most campsites have bathrooms and restaurants, and prices are quite cheap, usually at roughly R$ 20 a day. The city is within walking distance from most campsites, so camping isnt much of an obstacle for those who also want to visit it. Drinking and eating in So Thom is quite cheap as well, making it a great choice for those who want to travel at a low budget. But whether you want to visit So Thom for its nature, culture or music, it is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
September 26, 2015

The Brazilian film industry is highly underrated. Although few national movies have become popular internationally, Brazilian movie directors has been releasing solid films for decades. We have compiled a list of some of the best for you to enjoy.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)

If you have never been to Brazil but have heard of a Brazilian movie before, it is probably Cidade de Deus. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, this movie is a harrowing tale about a slum known as Cidade de Deus in the beginning of the 80s. The movie tells the story of many characters from the point of view of Buscap, an aspiring photographer that has to face the grim reality of living in an environment where the only choice seems to be between semi-slave labor and crime. It is through his perspective that we come to understand the humanity that exists in a world ravaged by constant violence. Those that intent to watch it without subtitles should be aware that the heavy use of slangs make it a hard movie to understand. But with our without subtitles, this is a must watch if you want to get into Brazilian cinema.

O Auto da Compadecida (A Dogs Will)
Based on a work of Brazilian writer Ariano Suassuna and directed by Guel Arraes, many consider this the best Brazilian comedy every made. The protagonists of the story are two friends that live in the village of Tapero in the state of Paraba called Joo Grilo (Jack the Cricket) and Chic. Grilo is a liar, Chic is a coward and they are both poor. The movie chronicles their adventures as they get into all sorts of shenanigans, whether looking for work, tricking people or trying to get Chic a girl. The movie plays with stereotypes from the northeast of Brazil, and at the same time offers a humorous criticism of the misery that the region still faces nowadays. It is also hilarious from beginning to end, with many unforgettable scenes. If you are feeling adventurous and want to watch it without subtitles be warned: like Cidade de Deus, it is quite hard to understand due to the heavy northeastern accent and use of regional expressions.

O Que Isso Companheiro? (Four Days in September)
In 1969, the United States ambassador to Brazil Charles Elbrick was kidnapped by members of the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR8) and Ao Libertadora Nacional (ALN), two left-wing guerilla groups that fought against the military dictatorship. Their intention was to trade Elbrick for 15 political prisoners, most of them guerilla fighters as well. This film, directed by Bruno Barreto, is a thriller that tells a fictional version of the event. Loosely based on a memoir written by Fernando Gabeira, a Brazilian politician who was one of the kidnappers, it is a truly fascinating account from the time Brazil lived under a dictatorship engaged in a constant fight with guerilla groups and other “subversives”. This movie, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is a must watch for those that want to have a better understanding of that period, as well as for those that simply enjoy watching a good thriller.