Sightseeing to shake off the fatigue of an 11-hour flight from Kansas City to Rio de Janeiro was the order of the day on Sunday, our first day in Brazil ahead of a week-long tour through its farm country.
We head to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue perched on a mountain 2,300 feet over Rio. A slow train hauls us and a number of locals almost to the top. The remainder of the way was either via stairs or elevator. At the top, we are confronted with crowds of people clamoring for space to shoot selfies in front of the statue.
When space is found, the view is terrific. Rio's 6.32 million people make it Brazil's second-largest behind Sao Paulo and it is spread out in the valleys below. Hills and mountains border on the west and the Atlantic Ocean covers the east, and all are in panoramic view.
Not long after arriving we were told that residents of Sao Paulo and Rio are encouraged to conserve water. A lengthy dry spell has lowered reservoirs and there is some concern power from hydroelectric plants may be reduced. Our guides assured us that water is not being rationed.
Locals say the water concerns are mainly in and around Brazil's two largest cities. The crop lands in the states of Mato Grosso and Parana are said to be better supplied with moisture. Our group will learn first hand if that is the case as this week we will travel throughout Parana, Brazil's No. 2 soybean producer behind Mato Grosso.
More Brazil Farm Tour 2015
Day 1: Flight to Rio
Day 2: Ag-rich Parana state awaits
Day 3: Family dairy farm aims for big leagues
Day 4: Two innovative farms find success in Brazil
Day 5: Many crops, few roads
Our tour of Parana begins with a flight late on Monday to Parana's capital of Curitiba, and on Tuesday we will hear about the region's rich history of crop and livestock production.
Brazil is the world's No. 2 producer of soybeans, behind the United States, and will start harvesting them in a few weeks. The crop is forecast to be huge, with USDA expecting it at a record 95.5 million metric tons.