From the poolside kiosk at Maria Helena’s …
Today we took it easy. Donna, John, and Juliana did a couple of shopping trips with John and Lori. I wanted to get a couple of things done, so for me it was a nice relaxing day next to the pool.
After breakfast I spend a few hours in the kiosk working on this year’s holiday card. I usually try to have the card close to complete by Thanksgiving, but between getting ready for this trip and actually taking this trip, I’m a little behind on putting the card together. So anything I can get done while I’m here helps. As a bonus I also added a translation button to the blog so people here can read the posts in Portuguese.
For lunch John grills steaks on the kiosk BBQ. We sample linguiça sausage, picanha steak, and chuck eye roll. The sausage and steaks are cut into half inch slices and served. The flavor with an aperole spritzer is incredible!
After lunch we spend a couple of hours in the pool waiting for the eventual rains. Then more more steaks on the grill for dinner. After all, this is Brazil! Thanks for reading. Thanksgiving in Brazil tomorrow!
From the kiosk at Maria Helena’s in Penápolis …
After a full day of activity yesterday, it’s a late start today. We begin with a trip to the new Garden Shopping mall in Penápolis. There’s a food court, cinema, and air conditioning and it’s a very popular addition located on the edge of town for shopping, lunch, or to cool off on a hot day.
A little bit about Penápolis. It’s a city of about 60,000 people located about 5 hour drive from both Säo Paolo and a 10 drive to Rio de Janeiro. The local economy is primarily based on agriculture, but this isn’t a sleepy farm town. Penápolis has a vibrant downtown area with restaurants, bars, shopping, and a new 1.5 kilometer walking path lined with a series of CrossFit gyms. Judging by the number of people on the walking path and in the gyms the people of Penápolis must be in good shape. Apparently they also need anti-inflammatories. There are a surprising number of “drogarias” or drugstores here. And while Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing in Brazil, most stores in Penápolis have signs in the windows advertising Black Friday sales!
After lunch we visit Creative, Lori’s art studio. Here Lori teaches weekend painting classes for kids. And she paints commissioned pieces as well. Located just up the street from Maria Helena’s the studio is spacious and, like the name, a creative haven!
Next we walk through downtown to see the shops and restaurants. Even in the middle of the afternoon the streets are full of people. While Lori and Donna shop John and I stop at Cafe Black coffee shop for some afternoon refreshment.
Tonight we’re having a pizza party in the cabana, known as a kiosk here, next to the pool. The kiosk has a pizza oven, so we’re in for a treat this evening with lots of friends and family!
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.