My Brazilian Adventure

I’m sitting in the quiet (okay… so I can hear the birds… there are geese in this morning… starting to think about flying south.. the wind chimes, the water fountain and the traffic down on I-71 and the dog and cat playing eat the wump on the laminate floor… I really have to trim their nails… two weeks is too long) on the front porch.  It’s chilly kind of this morning.  Long sleeves and coffee.  I can tell it is creeping up on infusion day (Wednesday) because the aches are starting to creep back in.  But I’m good. It’s only 4 weeks.  I’m good.

I’m sitting back, drinking coffee, reflecting on the past two weeks.

Getting my visa was a pain in the butt.  I’m hoping desperately that whoever has to go next starts the process NOW so they don’t have to stress over it when their time comes.  I honestly think that, if I hadn’t had to stress… really STRESS… over that for days and days, that the trip would have gotten off to a better start.  That, and I would have gotten there at the beginning and experienced the beginning, rather than walking in half way through.

That it was going to be an adventure at work was a given.  I was tasked with getting a very finicky software package up and running.  My first morning at breakfast I sat with one of the BIG bosses (who is a very interesing and very plain and down to earth kind of guy).  Technically, I think, since I was at the table 20 minutes before he got there and he asked if he could sit with me, it is safer to say that he sat with me, but we are splitting hairs there. It was impressed upon me at that time that this single piece of software was putting the HUGE MASSIVE project at risk and it was imperative that it be made to work.

Yeah, no stress there.

So, off to the plant we went.  TWO vans FULL of people from Cleveland.  I listened to how everyone was still stuffed from the Brazilian Steak House and how much fun they had had the night before (as I was circling the Sao Paulo airport hoping to not get diverted to Rio).  It is very possible to feel incredibly alone surrounded by thirty people.

At the plant, I got to meet the people who had, up until now just been faces in the company white pages and voices on the computer.  Now they were three dimensional.  Now they were people. There was (still is somewhat) a language barrier, but we all had a similar goal and we all worked together to accomplish it.

Turns out that some of what I was told was less than reality, some was more than reality.  By the end of two weeks we have reality.  And we have a much better feeling all the way around about the software.

I’ve learned that by being the weird one, I can sit back and look at situations and people in different ways.  I’ve learned that the older I get the less inclined I am to take crap from people regardless of who or what they are.

The chilly rain from the first weekend made me ache.  Aching made me short tempered.  Getting to the hotel and reading (repeatedly) on the thermostat that it only controls how cold it gets in the room, not how warm it gets in the room (not heat) filled me repeatedly with dread.  I spent days in the hotel room freezing.  While I love the shower head in the shower in the hotel (one of those huge round ones that make it rain a hard steady rain in the shower) I longed for my little bath tub at home and wished even more for the huge deep tub from Ecuador.  The lack of heat made me resort to creativity in the bathroom, too.  I have discovered that you can heat a room about the size of a small walk in closet with a hotel hair dryer set on high and propped in the towel rack for fifteen minutes while you shower.

I find it imminently frustrating that Motel 6 gives you like ten bars of soap EVERY DAY but I was lucky to get bars of soap every two or three days while I was there.

I hate instant hotel cappuccino.  Instant coffee can be better.   The instant stuff you can buy at the grocery store around the corner is even better.

I can’t wait to try the coffee that one of the guys from the plant gave me.  It is from his family’s coffee farm and his all natural.  I may have to find a way to mail order it.

The first weekend’s adventure (City Tour) would have been better if I hadn’t gotten the distinct impression that I was being foisted off on the women folk (flat out told that I wouldn’t be going trekking since I got there so late, and besides the women would be going on the City Tour and didn’t shopping sound like more fun?

Um… no

it’s not that I didn’t like the city tour.  The cold rain made it crappier than it could have been.  But how it was presented kind of came off worse than it could have.  You would think that, by the time people get to management level in a company they would realize or have learned how to not present something to people.

Sao Paulo really is pretty.  The architecture is amazing.  The colors are incredible.  And “winter” in interesting.  The temperature there was about what the temperature is here right now.   It reminded me a lot of Texas if the Austin area was a little more tropical foliage wise.  The plants that grow around the trees along the streets are the plants that I struggle to grow in my house.  Crown of Thorns, Snake plant, Spider plant, and it was winter!

The second weekend, well, I’ve already written about that.  I didn’t take overly well to being told that I had to do what the group was doing.  I could have quite happily sat on a bench by myself and people watched.  But everyone I talked to was very much adamant that you DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER go anywhere by yourself.  The caveat was that you COULD go next door to get coffee or across the street to the drug store but not further than just to the corner to the grocery store.

I was a rebel.  I did.

I put a little money and my credit card in my Spibelt and tucked it under my shirt and I went for a walk.  I went 6 or 7 blocks in any direction.  And I saw people.  I paid attention to my surroundings and listened to that creepy feeling at the back of your brain when things don’t feel right.  But I ventured forth.  I’m a rebel.

At the airports on the way home I found interesting ways of doing some things, too.  In the Miami airport, I saw the lady cleaning the bathrooms had a short broom (the size of a kid’s broom from the toy department… only it seemed to be better constructed) and she had a damp paper towel under it cleaning up water from the floor and cleaning marks from the floor.  I think this could be adapted with just a little creativity at home.  I’m going to have to think about this one.

At the Cleveland airport, the janitor lady in the hallways had a 3 foot long or so dowel rod that had a tennis ball jammed on the end of it.  She was cleaning marks off the floor, using it as a scrubby thing.  She was effectively cleaning black shoe prints and luggage wheel marks off of the shiny floor.  This I KNOW can be adapted.  I have some interesting thinks to think now.

I came away with a new location in my passport, a new appreciation for the country and a realization that, while things CAN be accomplished from half a world away, sometimes it is very effective to just be able to look across the table at someone and talk through what problems there are that need to be addressed.  You can see by the grimace they make that they are just as frustrated as you are by the situation and it makes you feel much more like a team than just a bunch of players on the same field.

My deer friends are nowhere to be seen this morning… but my birdy friends need some food. The sun is peaking through the trees and the world is coming alive.


One response to “My Brazilian Adventure

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