I-CAL: Our last full day in Brazil

5_27 photo_Christ

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!

This morning was a change of pace in our travels. Our planned tour of the port was cancelled due to weather issues. Instead, Alfredo gave our group a presentation on Brazilian agricultural economics. Agriculture provides Brazil’s economy with a trade surplus on the global level. Without agricultural exports, Brazil would have a trade deficit in the world market. The data that Alfredo provided our group supports this trend and allowed our group insight into Brazil’s role in the world economy and food system.

Through his work with the U.S. Grains Council, Alfredo has compiled data on agricultural commodities and trends for Brazil as well as data that compare Brazil with other nations. The data that Alfredo presented to our group showed robust growth in agricultural production and exports. It also showed that Brazilian agriculture has done a good job of preserving the nation’s precious resources while boosting agricultural production.

A growing middle class in the country has led to higher per capita consumption of meat. While visiting the hog grower’s cooperative earlier in this trip, we heard about their initiative to increase pork consumption. Alfredo’s data showed that per capita consumption is growing for pork, beef and poultry.

His presentation captured the attention of our group. His expertise on agricultural economics in Brazil would not be matched in any of our classroom experiences. We have truly appreciated the opportunity to learn from such a knowledgeable resource as Alfredo.

After our economics overview, we headed to Cristo Redentor (Chirst the Redeemer) to enjoy the view from this iconic point in the city. The visitors train, Trem de Corcovado, took us most of the way up the mountain, and some unexpected samba music from musicians who hopped on at one of the stops along the way added to the ambience. The more than 100-year-old train wound us through part of one of Brazil’s rainforests, the Atlantic Forest, which we discussed during our trip due to the attention it has received as a key area of deforestation.

We took the stairs the rest of the way and reached the famed Christ the Redeemer. Construction began in 1922 to commemorate 100 years of Brazilian independence. Completed in 1931, the statue remains one of the tallest statues of Jesus in the world and has been dubbed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Standing next to such a significant symbol of Brazil, especially after spending time getting to know the country, held special significance at the end of our trip. We had seen pictures, learned facts during orientation, but actually experiencing that piece of history was a rewarding moment.

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From there we headed to a Brazilian supermarket. Not only were we able to buy some of Brazil’s best products, but we were able to see the differences in cultures from the way the people shopped. The produce aisle was a wide arrangement of colors, but otherwise it seemed very similar to shopping here in the United States. It’s easy to say that this was a great way to spend our last full day in Brazil!

–Hope Wentzel (Virginia Tech) and Ethan Giebel (University of Wisconson – Platteville)

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