Stories

The Convento da Penha

by Jorge Sanchez - 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I walked from the rodoviaria (bus terminal) to downtown. It was early in the morning but I did not fear to be robbed. I had a full day to explore Vitoria before boarding a night bus to Rio de Janeiro. I fulfilled my duties as a tourist and soon reached the market and had breakfast, then I asked to the people around what to visit in that town during a day, and was advised not to miss the cathedral, the several churches, the pedestrian streets, a nice park (Parque Moscoso) with fountains, and the monument devoted to the Pope John Paul II, plus a kind of natural park sheltering many giant turtles nearby. It took me three hours to see all these places, plus palaces on the way and the masonic temple (I was surprised to realize that there are such temples in every city in Brazil, some of them sheltered in very fine buildings). Once in the monument to the Pope I noticed in front, across the sea (Vitoria is located in an island) a hill and in its summit a kind of imposing white building. I asked the fishermen around and was told that on the top of that rock there was a monastery, very holy, by the name of Convento da Penha. That town where is situated was called Vila Velha. I immediately left everything, even the visit to the giant turtles, and resolved to get there, in spite of the rain. At the bridge I was forbidden to cross it, pedestrian were not allowed, so I hitchhiked and soon a kind man helped me to cross to the other side in his car, from where I walked up the monastery. There were many people inside the monastery. I participated in the mass service with chants, then I enjoyed the atmosphere and took panorama view pictures. I noticed that in the island, where Vitoria is located, there were rocks looking like those around Rio de Janeiro, although not so beautiful as Pao de Açucar. View from that monastery, Vitoria looked a pretty town. Vitoria is one of the three capital of brazilian states located in an island. The other two capitals are Florianópolis (capital of Santa Catarina state), and Sao Luis, capital of Maranhao state. From the top I distinguished a nice lighthouse and wanted to visit it. On my way down a man advised me not to miss a very important chocolate factory, very famous in Brazil, called Garoto. First I went walking to visit the lighthouse, but it was raining so hard that I only reached a beach nearby. I waited and waited for the rain to stop, but I was not lucky and the rain continued falling, so, tired to wait, finally I hitchhiked again and crossed to the island, to proper Vitoria city, missing the lighthouse plus the chocolate factory. The rain then stopped as if by magic. In the evening I returned on foot to the bus terminal and caught one to Rio de Janeiro, where I arrived early in the morning the next day.  



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