Unfortunately, the time has come to say our goodbyes. This morning several of us got up early to enjoy the sunrise from Copacabana beach in front of our hotel. What a blessing this trip has been for all of us to have had this great opportunity and experience!
Between a wonderful breakfast and sunrise on the beach, our morning got off to a fantastic start. Apart from a few runners and pigeons, we had the beach to ourselves at 6 a.m. this morning so we could enjoy the quiet that is uncommon in this “city of wonders,” Rio de Janeiro! Continue reading
As the new day began, we were reminded that our time here in Brazil is limited. Our final destination, Rio de Janeiro is our home for the next three days. This morning a few of us woke up bright and early to attend a traditional Catholic mass. The little church was elegantly decorated with stain glass windows lining the walls and carved pillars throughout ceremonial space. The mass was entirely in Portuguese, and those who went received a glimpse into a part of the Brazilian culture.
Later on, everyone enjoyed a cup of freshly squeezed juice, cheese bread, a wide variety of fruits, and of course coffee. After breakfast, the ICAL team made their way down to Copacabana Beach to enjoy the morning sun and a couple of waves. We did not try our hand in surfing, but we let the waves push us around. Who would have thought, the ocean was salty. Overall, the morning was absolutely a blast, and we experience the people of Rio playing volleyball, lounging on the beach, and competing in soccer games.
As 12:30 rolled around, we showered and got ready for the day. Our first stop was the “Hippie Fair.” A collection of artisans set up small booths to peddle their handmade jewelry, leather, and canvas paintings. As we walked around, we experienced the smells of traditional desserts. Furthermore, we gained an appreciation for the craftsmanship of the pieces that were being sold.
Today was all about the smells of agriculture, from roses to pigs. We started off another amazing day in Brazil after departing our hotel in Barbacena and headed to the award winning Sao Sebastiao flower nursery.
We were greeted by the general manager who started off our tour by showing us the various greenhouses used in rose production. Sao Sebastiao was established 15 years ago and is a seven hectare, family owned, operation. They run 22 greenhouses to cultivate their high quality roses.
After exploring greenhouses we saw the warehouse where they package flowers for transportation and do flower arrangements. We also got to look inside one of their large storage coolers full of roses of various varieties.
We learned that the length of the stem rather than the quality of the flower determines the worth of a rose. In 2011 Sao Sebastiao didn’t export any flowers, but they have exported to Portugal in the past. We learned that the mark up on roses in Brazil is three or four times the whole sale price.
This morning we woke up to one of the most scenic views. Looking out of our bungalows we saw dairy cows grazing on pasture over the mountain side, and palm and lime trees bordered the brick pathways leading up to our doors.
After another breakfast comprised of delicious fruits, breads and coffee, we traveled 10 minutes from Brumadinho to Inhotim, the world’s largest open air museum.
This outdoor museum was created for two purposes, to address environmental education and showcase contemporary art. Prior to being a museum, the land was a large farm. Inhotim is now owned by the Brazilian government. It employs over 1,000 employees and contains more than 4,500 native and exotic plant species, making it the largest collection of living species in Brazil. It is also home to the greatest palm tree collection in the world.
Sabrina, our tour guide, lead us around stoned pathways through the botanical beauties, and over bridges, which were filled with vibrant fish. We saw a variety of plants such as, the King’s flower, water bananas and the most important palm variety in Brazil, the Imperial Palm.
We toured a few of the contemporary art galleries, which featured pieces like the Red Room and Glove Trotter by Cildo Meireles. Everyone walked away feeling inspired by the art!
From there we boarded the bus for a four hour trek south to Barbacena. Here we are staying at SENCA Grogoto, a hotel which trains students for the hotel and restaurant management track. It hosts many international students and most of us ended the night relaxing in the hot tub!
Yet again what a wonderful day in Brazil!
After our traditional hotel breakfast of fruit, cheese, bread and of course coffee, we left our wonderful, slightly under construction hotel in Ponte Nova for the beautiful historical city of Ouro Preto. Upon arrival we enjoyed, yet again, more coffee and some decedent hot chocolate at Cafeteria E Livraria which opened up to the bustling cobble stone streets. We were joined by a tour guide to help show us around the charming city founded in the 1600s which used to be the nation’s capital. The city is known for its mining, especially gold, as the state of Minas Gerais itself translates to “general mines”.
After our delicious cups of hot chocolate and coffee, we headed to the historic military church of Ouro Preto. In the city there are many churches, which served the different social and racial classes of the past. For example, there was a rich Portuguese church and a poor Portuguese church. The church we visited, known as São Francisco de Assis was built from 1765-1810. The intricately designed artwork was finished by 1825. In the church, there are countless paintings, statues, and engravings some completed miraculously by a famous crippled artist, Aleijadinho. Along with the beautiful relief artwork, which gave the impression that the sculpted material was raised above the background, there was gold galore! Next we headed to a mine of Ouro Preto.
Our tour guide took us through the winding, steep cobblestone roads to the Mina Jeje Mine, Mina De Euro Sec XVlll, one of the first mines in the city. There we learned that a whole family, even down to the 5 year-old, could be paid labor in the mines. We also learned about different minerals used for paint, which were very vibrant copper toned colors. We ventured further into the mine with our little miner caps to see the first site where they struck gold! It was also interesting to learn that there were many jewels found before the miners actually struck gold. The jewels and gold found their way to places like the Philippines and China where they were likely used in porcelain and jewelry.
Good evening, All!
We once again had a great day in Brazil! What an awesome experience we have been having! Warm and mild weather, shining sun, great people, and even greater food have been treating us well this far!! We are staying in Ponte Nova and have been able to enjoy this city to the fullest.
This morning we visited and toured a sugar mill, of which the smell was very close to corn silage (welcome home!). This mill, Jatiboca, was founded in 1920 and is made up of two units. The first unit was the location we were at and the second being in Sao Paulo. The mill was family owned and operated until 1997 when they hired out the administration for the company. A brief introduction to each location is as follows:
Location 1 (The one we visited)- 800,000 million ton crushing capacity, 84% of sugar cane is from their own production land with 16% coming from independent farmers, 1.1million bags of sugar per year (50 kilo bags), 32 million liters of ethanol produced annually which is added to fuel and then sold (not directly to customers) and is 100% manually harvested.
Location 2- 300,000 million ton crushing capacity, 99% of sugar cane is from their own production land with the remainder from independent growers, 100% goes into ethanol resulting in 30 million liters of ethanol annually. 35% mechanical and 65% manual harvesting.
General mill information- Bags of sugar are marketed in 30, 5, 2, and 1 kilo bags and each mill is self- sustaining, meaning bi-products are reused as fertilizer as well as energy for the plant. Jatiboca employs 2,000 people. The company is devoted to environmental sustainability and has set aside a large piece of land which has been exclusively devoted to remaining in natural habitat forever. In order for workers to get minimum wage, they must harvest 3 tons of sugar cane per day with 5.5 tons being the average.
Our early morning bus naps lasted only until hills planted in orderly rows of eucalyptus began flashing by. Alfredo explained that this nonnative tree can be harvested five or six times for various products from timber to essential oils. Depending on the density of the stand, crops, such as soybeans or coffee can be grown between the rows. This method is another example of agroforestry, which we discussed yesterday in the context of research in the dairy industry.
Got Milk? Brazil does! The first visit of the day was conducted at the Embrapa dairy research farm. While on the 1,030 hectare farm, we took a firsthand look at the dairy industry in Brazil. About 45% of the farm is forest land with the balance of acreage under till and pasture. Dairies in Brazil use a pasture based system with harvested forages as a supplement. Several tropical grasses that originate from Africa are used throughout Brazil as forage that is stored and grazed upon by cattle. Research is done on forage at this location in addition to the dairy cattle.
The Embrapa research facilities try to simulate normal industry conditions in order to provide research that will benefit farmers who have dairy operations. The facility we saw was one of five milking stations on the premises. It had a double four swing herringbone parlor to milk cows in. Corn silage was stored in a pair of silos and was fed in a fence line bunk to the dairy cows. The cows were Holstein crossed with Gir cattle. These cattle are bred specifically for high production in a tropical climate.
Today we began our trek to Juiz de Fora bright and early, but only after doing what we have learned to do best–eating. Our hotel in Petropolis had a plethora of breads, pastries, fruits, cheeses, and ham for us to indulge on. The drive to Juiz de Fora was about two hours long and was absolutely beautiful. We were able to see a large number of Nellore cattle grazing atop and alongside the lush mountains. Alfredo informed us that most of the farms we were seeing were hobby farms owned by the big city’s doctor and lawyer types. He said that most of the places raised cattle and race horses, claiming that the altitude better conditioned the horses to have high stamina when racing.
When we finally reached our first destination of the day, Embrapa Dairy Research Center, we were welcomed with coffee, milk, juice and cheese bread. After introducing ourselves to the group that welcomed us, including a mix of researchers, program developers and administrators of the center, our new friend, Sergio, gave us an overview of the center and what projects they are focusing on worldwide. One thing that stuck out was when he said that Embrapa was placing big emphasis on education and communication to explain what it is that they do to the general public. This answered our pre-departure questions of what effort was being made in regard to agricultural advocacy in Brazil. They are even preparing a new educational exhibit for youth to show the process of dairy production from start to finish.
Embrapa supports over 70,000 jobs and in 2011 had a social profit of 8.88 billion dollars as a result of its research in agriculture ranging from entomology to conservation. While we were at the headquarter location, the company is present throughout Brazil with 47 total research centers. In dairy cattle research specifically, they have 72 researchers, 65 research assistants and 178 support staff employees. We toured the facility and had the chance to see many of these people hard at work. Throughout the introduction, we were informed of the focus on strategic tick control in their research and our first lab visit bared witness to petri dishes full of ticks that were at least half the size of a dime.
For the next two weeks, participants in the 2013 International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program will be blogging about their travels in Brazil. Check back often, as they’ll be sharing some great insights from their trip along with some amazing photos!
We started our journey of Brazil with an action packed day touring museums and eating way too much good food! We arrived at the airport in Rio de Janeiro at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. The weather was unusually cool for a fall morning in Brazil and of course we expected the humidity. We were greeted by our local hosts and translators, Alfredo and Marsha from the U.S. Grains Council. We are extremely excited to spend our time in Brazil with them and are grateful for their expertise and humor. After loading up our bus for the week we drove to Petropolis where we stopped for breakfast at Pavelka before we got into town. The group ordered sampler platters of fresh breads, meats, cheeses, sausage and papaya.
We toured the Imperial Museum located in Petropolis. The Imperial Museum was once the summer home to Brazil’s royal family. It was neat to see the rich history and the influence of other cultures in the design of the home. We enjoyed touring the gardens and watching folk dancers perform in the courtyard outside of the palace. We made a quick stop at a Catholic Cathedral just as Sunday Mass was concluding. The church’s architecture was breathtaking and set an example of the large role of Catholicism has played in Brazil’s history.
The group then had lunch at Bordeaux, a French restaurant set in a rustic refurbished horse stable. The restaurant was on the grounds of a historic house built with seven architectural errors. Lunch was extravagant and gave us a taste of the European influence on food in Brazil. The group could choose from bacon wrapped filet mignon or fish filet with authentic French side dishes and desert.
After eating lunch we toured the Bohemia Beer Museum of Brazil. We were all surprised to learn about the history and process of beer production in Brazil. We ate, once again, at an Italian restaurant with the choice of a pizza buffet, pasta dishes, or salad and soup. It is time to call it a night so we can rest up for another Brazilian adventure tomorrow!
P.S. We may be coming home with a couple stray dogs! They seem particularly attracted to American tourists and love to pose for pictures.
By Laura Gorecki (University of Nebraska – Lincoln) and Jenna Vculek (North Dakota State University)