There’s a remote village in southeast Brazil about 500 km from Rio De Janeiro called Noiva do Cordeiro. It sits in a valley called Belo Vale, which literally translates as beautiful Valley and it’s a place that lives up to its name. The village has groves with row upon row of thick skinned and sweet tangerines, banana plants and trees covered with bright yellow flowers.
But if you go to Noiva do Codeiro the landscape is not the only view to catch your eye. There are also its inhabitants. To be more specific, I’m talking about the village women. But that is also Noiva do Codeiro’s curse as much as it is a blessing.
Apparently this area is famous in Brazil for producing more women than men. But right now too many of them are single and looking for love and there just aren’t enough men around to go round if you get my meaning. And the women of Noiva do Codeiro are determined to do something about it. They’ve launched a nationwide and an international appeal for eligible men to come to their village.
As one of the young village women explained: The only men that single girls meet in the village are either married or a relative. Everyone is a cousin. She says: we all dream of falling in love and getting married. But that is not to say they need a man. They don’t. The village women do very well and are quite happy the way they are. They manage the village finances, they work the fields, they run the show in the absence of men. In fact what makes the place so special is the sense of community that exists here. People work together, and because they work so hard it makes them want to look out for one another. The village has a saying: Life is good because we are always with friends.
Now at this point you might be wondering why there is such a lopsided gender balance. It has to do with Noiva do Codeiro’s history. The village was first settled in the late 19th century. Its founder was a woman called Maria Senhorinha de Lima who arrived after she was accused of adultery and exiled from her church and home in 1891. That stigma has never left the place. The villagers say it has meant that Novia do Codeiro has been isolated because of prejudice and they have also been fighting a campaign to ensure that the authorities don’t continue to ignore the community.
Clearly, there are men who live in Noiva do Codeiro but they spend the week away working either as miners or in the nearest big city. The village women acknowledge they are an unusual group in rural Brazil. But the times they are a changing in Brazil. The country has a female President. A woman heads up the country’s oil company and women make up more than a quarter of the senior management of Brazil’s leading companies.
This latest publicity has helped to spread Noiva do Codeiro’s notoriety far and wide. The place has a history of male visitors falling for the inhabitants of the village. And that is what the women of Noiva do Codeiro are hoping for. It is now on the tourist trail for some French travellers. If only the village women could speak French.