Part Four: São José do Rio Prêto, Brazil
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landed in São Paulo airport at 8.30 pm.
After a painless customs check and baggage pick-up, I exited into
the warm night air. There to greet me was Avyakta-rupa,
with whom I had been corresponding for months co-ordinating all
details of my Brazil tour. He introduced me to Mahabhakta, his friend
and associate from his home town of São José do Rio Prêto,
which is where we would be driving now, despite the lateness of
the hour. We would return to São Paulo in a few days time. Here
I was in Brazil, home to an awesome 170 million people.
exited the airport and drove into the night. The route to Rio
Prêto seemed endless. But the cordial, jolly company left me
in no doubt that my time in Brazil would be fun, lay-back and stress-free.
Avyakta brought me up to date with our action-packed culinary program
over the coming 10 days, and told me a little bit about his life,
his business, and our final destination tonight, São José
do Rio Prêto, which is situated in southeastern Brazil,
in São Paulo State.
took us hours just to drive through São Paulo,
which at night seemed awesomely large and
intimidating. It is indeed one of the world's largest cities and
certainly the biggest, most modern and cosmopolitan in South America.
The city and its environs, home to Brazil's biggest and best-educated
middle class, comprises immigrant and ethnic neighbourhoods where
almost 18 million people live, many of them descendants of Italian,
Japanese, and Lebanese migrants. Residents of the city call themselves
Paulistanos. We finally arrived at home
base at 3.00am, and a very tired Kurma crawled into bed.
awoke totally refreshed. After high-altitude Bolivia, Brazil felt
like heaven. Avyakta introduced me to his wife,
and over breakfast they spoke about São José do Rio Prêto
itself, of how it was a pleasant city with a friendly atmosphere.
Similar in atmosphere to Gainsville, Florida, it is the trade centre
of an agricultural area with many colleges, and 15 universities,
and is home to a little more than half a million people.