Food, Fun and Friends Take Priority Over Work Here
Brazil was mostly two things to me – Rio de Janeiro and Amazon forests- until I traveled to the fifth largest country in the world in 2012. It was not a usual backpacking travel, but a month-long trip to complete an MBA consulting project for a Brazilian company. A team of six MBA students from different schools and of various nationalities was ready for the expedition in Brazil. I was more excited about exploring a new country than the project.
I woke up in a new city, a new country and a new continent after a 11-hour flight from New York to Sao Paulo. I landed there four days before the project kickoff just to acclimatize and learn a few more words of Portuguese in addition to what I learned during the project. The first few days were totally fun interacting with local people; their limited English and my limited Portuguese was enough for me to survive. The hotel staff was very keen to know about India, especially Indian gods and goddesses. I think most of them never met a person from India before.
Having lived in a mega city in India, I was quite fascinated to see sprawling Sao Paulo and its Skyline. Hours of walking for the first couple of days was not good enough to cover even a corner of the city. Getting around the city and its suburb via public transport became easy with the aid of one of our local team members. Sao Paulo showed its real colors when we hit its bars and clubs. I was introduced to Caipirinha, Brazil’s local drink. Everything was brighter after a few Caipirinhas; I think I underestimated its magic.
Porte Alegre, a southern Brazilian city known for its hospitality, was our next stop to kick-off the project. Food, music, party and a little bit of work was the theme for the time we spent in the city. People party hard, really hard in this part of Brazil. Churrascaria-Brazilian barbeque, exotic drinks and endless desert tables were so tempting, even for calorie conscious people. Nature did a full justice to this part of Brazil; beauty of all sort is abundant. I was told that in addition to the amazing landscapes, the region is also blessed with inner and outer beauty in people.
It was time to get serious about the project. We headed north again to an industrial town of Campinas where we had to spend time with workers in a manufacturing plant. Life was different here, a bit laid-back. One thing did not change, however; the food was amazing here too. There was simplicity and authenticity when we walked around the town and interacted with local people. We completed and delivered the project at the company’s headquarter in the heart of Sao Paulo. The team received a lot of appreciation and a license to party hard once more before we parted our ways.
My final stop was Rio de Janeiro, the city I had heard a lot by then. I wanted to make most of my short stay of less than 36 hours in the most traveled city of the southern hemisphere. Like a cool kid with shades on, I started my city walk tour from the market district and ended near the Fabellas, a slum area in the city. One needs to spend a good amount of time to feel its energy and rhythm. I said bye to Brazil with a promise that I would come back.