In Search of the Perfect Caipirinha

 

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Your Ready, Fire, Aim editor busy with research for this post.

Cachaca is an alcoholic beverage made from fresh sugar cane juice that is fermented and distilled.  If you cut a fresh lime and add sugar, crush it together, and then add cachaca and shake over ice, the resulting drink is the local beverage called a caipirinha.  While I still can’t pronounce it (or anything else in just about any foreign language,) it appears that I can drink a caipirinha….depending on how its made. Too much cachaca and the drink is verifiable rocket fuel.  Danny Parker, our intrepid 7620 tour guide, offers that you have to mix the sugar on the bottom of the glass to get the flavor exactly right.  I’m no expert, but it appears to me that compared to rum cachaca is very smoooooooth.  Interestingly, the more you drink the smoother it gets.

I didn’t come to Brazil in search of the perfect caipirinha, but the trip is kind of turning into a quest of epic proportions.   I’ve looked everywhere for the perfect drink.  Three nights in Rio de Janeiro turned up some interesting contestants.  Then we went  to Iguazu Falls and actually looked under a rainbow to find the perfect caipirinha.  See if you can see it…

Not to be deterred, we were off to Sao Paulo and the Rotary International Convention, where we thought we would find it (the perfect caipirinha) at Carnival.  It turns out that Carnival appeared at a couple of different times here in Sao Paulo.  First was at the opening plenary session.  OMG.  The performers made you feel like you were already drinking caipirinhas even if you weren’t.  Here’s a taste of Carnival at the plenary session:

Or…perhaps you like your Carnival in a parade?  If so, you could catch the parade after the plenary at the sambadrome.  Aside from the brilliant costumes and the exciting dancing and music, if you were there, you can testify to what its like waiting for the show to start sitting on concrete steps and eating Brazilian cheese balls and popcorn.  Just when you lost all feeling below the waist, the show started and the parade got everyone cheering.  Here’s a brief look:

And after the entire parade goes by and your thoughts are turning once again to your favorite cachaca-based beverage, here comes a float with RI President, Gary Huang, who perhaps had already imbibed a few too many of this Brazilian treat?  Here’s President Gary in the Carnival parade waving to the crowd having already exhausted himself leading happy claps earlier in the evening.

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Aside from the hunt for the perfect caipirinhas, an International Conference did break out this week with the plenary session on Monday focusing on the Rotary  Foundation.  (Here is where we get to brag more than a little.)  The 2014-15 Global Alumni Service to Humanity award recipient was District 7620’s own Dr. Geetha Jayaram, Psychiatrist and Associate Professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine.  Geetha was honored for a career’s worth of service in her home country of India helping women get treatment for mental health through her project Maanasi .  Here’s a few pictures of Geetha addressing the plenary session.

20150608_103927(0)20150608_103152We are so proud of Geetha, her husband, PDG Jay Kumar, and her newly chartered Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Howard West.

What else?  How about an address by Nobel Peace Prize Winner and new Rotarian, Dr Oscar Arias, Former President of Costa Rica?  He gave a stirring speech based on a Paul Harris quote about making “war on war” and about the need for the world to buy less weapons and focus our resources on peace. Dr. Arias received an enthusiastic standing ovation that was well earned.

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Finally, to end the session on a stunning note, Hamid Jafari, the WHO Director of Polio Eradication, gave an amazing report confirming that the Continent of Africa has been polio free so far this year, and Nigeria has not reported a case for 10 months.  He also said THAT A POLIO FREE WORLD COULD BEGIN IN A MATTER OF MONTHS INSTEAD OF YEARS!   I took this to mean that our eradication efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan may result in months where there are no new polio cases anywhere in the world beginning very shortly.   I’m pretty sure this is the most important  news we’ve heard in years regarding Polio.  I can’t imagine the head dude at the WHO saying this to a Rotary audience unless he was pretty darned certain about it.  We’ve been “so close” for so long.  I wonder if we are really on the cusp of the single greatest accomplishment of our Rotary lifetimes?  Of course, polio free doesn’t mean certified eradicated, but it’s close enough for me to reach for the cachaca.

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So…tonight is the Major Donor Dinner, and another shot at finding the perfect Caipirinha.  The search continues….

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