Making connections with locals abroad can enhance your travel experience to another level. Not knowing much about Sao Paulo seemed like a disadvantage at first, but then I thought it would be exciting to discover the city on my own. The only article I read before the trip was Brazil’s Modern Remix by Tom Downey for the July/August 2011 issue of Afar magazine.
The article was eye opening to say the least. Who knew Sao Paulo had the biggest concentration of Japanese outside of Japan? Certainly not me. I was compelled to try a few of the places mentioned in the article I had read, so I headed to the Liberdade neighborhood.
I arrived at Kintaro with an open mind. The owner of the small restaurant, who had been previously photographed for afar magazine by João Canziani, came out to greet me. I ordered a few dishes and a really cold beer.
After some small chit chat I confessed that I only knew about Kintaro because I had read the article in the pages of Afar. The owner had only seen the article online. I happened to have the magazine with me and when she saw it her eyes lit up. I ended up giving her my copy. The magazine ended up being passed around by different people in the neighborhood who anxiously turned the pages in search of their local hero. Many of them had not seen the article and I could feel everyone’s excitement. Moments like that are why I love travel and feel like it’s one of the best investments you can make for personal growth.