Santa Rita do Sapucai, Always in My Heart

My name is Dr. Bob Deutsch. I am a neuroscientist, anthropologist, and business consultant…and for a decade in the past I was even a US State Department diplomat. I have been lucky enough to have lived in or seen many places, in all the continents. I was recently in Santa Rita do Sapucai to give a TEDx talk at Inatel.

I am writing now to state a simple fact: I think Santa Rita do Sapucai Is a fabulous place. I am open enough and curious enough to have liked things about almost every place I have travelled to. Santa Rita do Sapucai, though, is very special. Very special!

I say this for several reasons. First, the people. The people I met in the context of my work there were smart, joyful, and creative. They were kind and full of life. But so were the people I met walking along the town’s streets and pathways, as well as the people I met in my hotel and in the restaurants I went to. Everyone seemed to be welcoming and caring. That’s not so common around the world.

People were always accepting of the slowness in conversation my use of an interpreter required. And people were full of smiles. My hosts — local residents — were the kindest and most gracious I have ever met around the world.

I also very much liked the food I had. The beef, pork, rice and beans, were delicious. And, of course, I love caipirinha. Perhaps, too much (just kidding). I even had a caipirinha flavored ice cream. I often ate in town and had wonderful dishes. One night I even had a very tasty parmesan (that’s my favorite dish at home in New York, USA). Once I went out of town to a local farm restaurant. The food and the atmosphere there was rustic, but very comfortable. One morning, too, I walked with two local friends to the town indoor market. I really liked that market — Old, but beautifully natural. I thought the presentation of the fruits and vegetables, and chicken and beef parts, were laid out in a very clean and tempting display. Some cheese and sandwich vendors allowed me to have a taste. When I offered to pay they said “No” with a smile. That’s hospitality.

I was also very interested and glad to see in Santa Rita do Sapucai a mixture of what might usually be considered, contradictions. The old and new, the traditional and cutting-edge, actually lived not only side-by-side, but as a wonderful blend of two opposites. Donkey-drawn carriages parked in front of hi-tech startups, and engineers working with people from the creative arts. That’s exactly what the world needs: Things that are “This AND That.” Most things nowadays are cut as extremely different things. This is an immature and even sometimes dangerous separation. Santa Rita do Sapucai is not like that. It’s a great example for the world.

Lastly, I point to point out how good I felt looking at and being in Santa Rita’s beautiful landscape — the rolling hills, the mountains, the many layers and shades of green, and the coffee rows, all made very happy. They also made me think of the Tuscan hills outside Florence, Italy, where I lived for four years just a short time ago. This area of Italy is considered by many world travelers to be one of the most fantastic places on the globe. Santa Rita do Sapucai was its equal.

I have been to Brazil many times — Rio, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Manaus, Porto Alegre. I have even lived for three years with the Yanomamo in the Amazon. However, this was my first time to Santa Rita do Sapucai. I will not forget my time there.

I thank all the people of Santa Rita do Sapucai. I shall return.