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Tour of eucalyptus near Juiz de Fora, MG

USA | Thursday, 15 July 2010 | Views [572]

I very much hope that I can convey to you(all) how priceless the experience of Rotary involvement has been for me.  Each time that I am able to interact with a Rotary person, it is a treat; a treat to watch the sun set in a different place than I have ever been before… have dinner on a patio with three to four languages being spoken, and above all discuss cultural differences with such caring and nice people as the Rotary members that I have met.

I wish that I could explain the precious experiences that my Rotary involvement brings to me… I could describe the pink glow cast on the blue/gray clouds over top of Daniel’s densely forested mountains, or the feel of the polished leather saddle beneath me as one of the beautiful white horses of Manoel’s trotted through his sprawling farm, or the crunch of the debris under my feet as I followed Leonardo through his recently cut eucalyptus stand in the mountains outside of Juiz de Fora… but, I just can’t explain the feeling I have after such a day as today – and all thanks to my Rotary involvement.

Manoel is a local businessman; a farmer some might say, although the recent recap of his endeavors yielded too many to really classify him as such.  He and I first met at the conference in Visconde do Rio Branco when I presented to the district conference of upcoming presidents.  He approached me to tell me that he had “some” eucalyptus and offered his help if I ever desired it for my research.  Then, again at the annual district conference in Sao Lorenco, I saw him again and therefore re-introduced myself.  Upon the conclusion of that meeting we determined that I should see his farm, as it was disclosed that he in-fact has *many* eucalyptus trees.  It took several weeks but he determined a time that it was convenient for both of us and offered to pick me up while traveling through Viçosa and returning home to Juiz de Fora.  He owns a large fazenda with Swine, Chicken, feed (for cattle and swine) and Eucalyptus sapling (clones) production as well as another parcel of property with many hectares of plantations of eucalyptus.  In addition he owns and manages a restaurant, (which serves dairy products/beef and vegetables grown on the farm – in addition to the swine and chicken, of course), a gas station and several rental properties.

He and his family (3 children, all over 25 years old, with one son still at home and one daughter living just a few gates away with her husband and adorable son) welcomed me into their home and it was a real treat!  His wife was traveling to a nearby place (a resort of “health” where healthy portion sizes and choices are reinforced with exercise around the beautiful mountain region) for the extended weekend but returned Sunday before I left.  They are a very healthy family, as I was fed very well but very healthy (breakfasts of a “7 grain” bread with scrambeled eggs, light turkey or ham, fruit and natural yogurt and a wonderful spread of ricotta low-fat cheese with some yogurt and savory seasoning blend; dinner of grilled fish and salad) by their housekeeper and chef.   Manoel seems to be an outstanding employer as well as these household assistants were treated as part of the family and each person that I met on the farm seemed to really enjoy their job (or at least the circumstances in which they must complete the work if it was tedious).  He must employ somewhere around 100 people in that community as his operations on the farm are very complex and the business is very busy.  He is a leader in the community as well, (as was evident in how many people said hello as we walked by), and respected by many (as was evident in the greeting we received by his friend and the owner of the churrascaria – an “all you can eat” type place with a salad bar and a rotation of grilled meats that are brought by your table for you to select the cut you prefer (I favored the roast injected with cheese) - we gorged ourselves at following one of the strenuous tours). 

Leonardo is his friend and another businessman classified as a farmer.  He owns and operates a large scale forestry plantation of eucalyptus and many pastures engaged in agro-forestry with cattle and saw-timber production.  He, his mother, another “farmer” (with 1500 hectares), Manoel and I toured his eucalyptus stands in order to discuss the business and for me to learn more about the large-scale production side of Eucalyptus.  I now know more than I had learned in many previous visits to other farms.  It was truly a priceless experience for me, this research, and my agenda for my Rotary experience.

Daniel and his wife are friends of Manoel’s as well.  They live on a farm close to his and own many acres of native forest as well as a few of eucalyptus.  Daniel is French, and has lived in Brazil for 14 years.   Our dinner was of the highest quality of hospitality and refinement imaginable with a first course of pastries and French champagne, a meal of File with a burgundy sauce, and other traditional Brazilian dishes such as Fejão (with chicken, onion, pork, black beans, and farofa – a corn flour and egg), cooked kale with salt and oil, and of course rice to help with the consumption of Chilean wines.  After dinner, fresh Brazilian fruit was served with Framboise (a French wild blackberry brandy) poured over top and followed up with locally made Brazilian cachaça (pinga) served from a small wooden barrel and poured into the most delicate glass brandy snifters.  Tea followed, served in had made pottery mugs and saucers, and was made of jasmine and oranges and sweetened with some of Manoel’s honey (did I mention he produced honey as well?!)… which was almost as sweet as the smell of the jasmine bush growing 10 feet away from our veranda dining spot.   The night was a bit chilly, (around 60 degrees), but the company, laughter, and a few glasses of the refined alcohol helped with the cold.

I will never forget such a pleasant day as today; one that I wish I could re-live many times over…

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=375602&id=586190520&l=bab93f4926

Tchau e até mas… (until the next wonderful Rotary experience I am able to write about!)

Tags: lap of luxury with rotary! (again!)

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