Brazil // Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo //

The Jequitinhonha Valley

If you want to get a clearer idea of where the Jequitinhonha artesanato comes from, you have to head out into the sertão proper, and Diamantina is the obvious place to start your journey. Travelling into the Jequitinhonha Valley is not something to be undertaken lightly; it is one of the poorest and remotest parts of Brazil, the roads are bad, there are hardly any hotels except bare flophouse dormitórios, and you almost certainly won’t find anyone able to speak English.

If you need reasons, though, you don’t have to look much further than the scenery, which is spectacularly beautiful, albeit forbidding. The landscapes bear some resemblance to the deserts of the American Southwest, with massive granite hills and escarpments, cactus, rock, occasional wiry trees and people tough as nails speaking with the lilting accent of the interior of the Northeast. Here you’re a world away from the developed sophistication of southern and central Minas.

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