From Maria Helena’s in Penápolis …
The day starts with a traditional Brazilian breakfast – a French roll with requeijão cream cheese or butter and coffee. A pleasant start to the day after Sunday’s long travel day and last night’s extended welcoming happy hour.
Our first stop is Clube Penapolense. John was a college tennis player and continues playing at this local club in Penápolis. There’s also multiple pools, indoor courts, and bocce ball. It’s a social center in the town and membership is only $30 a month.
It’s the last week of school here. Summer vacation starts at the end of the week. On Mondays school lets out around 12p so we go to pickup Andy and Clara at Colegio Franciscano Coração de Maria. And Andy and Clara give us a tour of their school and show us their classrooms. There is a family history with Colegio Franciscano Coração de Maria. Both Maria Helena, John, and John’s brother Deco attended this school.
At midday we head back to Maria Helena’s for a traditional Brazilian Feijoada lunch – it’s pork loin and sausage in a black bean sauce served on rice with collard greens, farofa yucca, and a slice of orange. Here the big meal of the day is lunch and after eating I’m ready for a nap.
There is some manufacturing here, but the economy is primarily agricultural – soybeans, corn and sugar cane. The family is in the grain elevator business. In the afternoon John takes us to a couple of locations of their business, Socafé. Farmers ship soybeans and corn to Socafé’s grain elevators. There the grain is weighed, evaluated, cleaned, and dried. Then Socafé resells the grain on the commodities market where it is trucked to a port and shipped overseas. Soybean is used as feed and it comes to you in the form of beef and poultry at your local shopping market.
Maria Helena came to Penápolis in 1976 to run the family business. While business today is based on soybean and corn when the business was first started in 1951 the primary crop was coffee beans. Socafé would buy coffee beans from local farmers and store the beans for resale at higher prices later. Over time the region shifted from coffee beans to soybeans and Socafé shifted as well.
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.
From Maria Helena’s in Penápolis …
It’s a transfer day. We’re leaving Rio de Janeiro and heading to Penápolis.
We check out of our hotel at 7a and take a taxi to the airport. Our driver has been a Flamengo fan for 74 years and was excited about last night’s victory. They partied in the streets overnight.
First we fly from Rio’s international airport to Campinas on Azul flight 4317. There’s a layover of a couple of hours, enough time for a slice of pizza at the airport.
After lunch we fly from Campinas to Araçatuba on Azul flight 4501. We’re on a turboprop plane for this leg of the journey. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a propeller plane.
Not many flights each day into Araçatuba, so the airport is small. But after five flights we are here!
John meets us at the airport and we drive to his Mom’s house in Penápolis. We spend the afternoon and into the evening settling in and visiting with family while sitting outside next to the pool.
Thanks for reading. More from Penápolis tomorrow.
From the Executive Lounge of the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro …
It’s an early start but we’re catching up after yesterday’s travel delay. We meet Marcio, our tour guide, at the hotel at 7:30a. We drive through the city to the base of Corcovado Mountain. Marcio tells us that Corcovado means the “hunchback.” Next is a scenic tram ride up the side of the mountain to the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. The view of the city from the base of the statue is spectacular!
Next we drive through the city and board the cable car for the ride up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. The view from here is even more incredible. We spend about 30 minutes at the top taking pictures and taking in the view.
For lunch Marcio knows a BBQ place downtown. We park and enjoy a walk through the city before lunch at Confeitaria Colombo. In the afternoon we visit the Selaron Steps – a city stairway lined with ￼ceramic tiles donated from all over the world created by a Chilean artist. Then we drive past Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon beaches before driving down the street to see Donna’s old apartment building.
It’s a long day of sightseeing so we end the afternoon with a Brama beer at a cafe on Copacabana Beach. This evening all of Rio is watching Flamengo, the local soccer club, take on Argentina’s River Plate in the South American Championship. So we skip dinner and watch with the crowd gathered in the Executive Lounge of the JW Marriott Hotel. Spoiler Alert – In the last two minutes Flamengo scores two goals to overcome a one goal deficit. Rio is going to go wild tonight!
Tomorrow we head to Penápolis. Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.