Saturday, 5 October 2013
This is it! It is really the last day. I feel bad, sad and happy at the same time and am up quite early. I have already packed so there is no rush. I open the window to take the last breath of Uberlandian air. Listening to the urban sounds, the ghetto-blasters that the young men here like to sound (even at this time in the morning), day and night, from their cars. The ever-flashing lights and sirens of the police cars and the people jogging along the boulevard.
I get my breakfast and pack the last things I need for my travel back home in the backpack. I hope it will all fit and not be too heavy as I was already on my limit coming down here. At 10, the taxi is there. It’s taking me to the César Bombonato Airport (IATA: UDI, ICAO: SBUL) of Uberlandia. I did not know that César Bombonato was a Brazilian airforce pilot that died in an air crash, but as I am having some time (my flight got delayed) I absorb whatever Brazilian text comes along.
We leave. A last picture at the tarmac with Paul and off we go. We board the only plane parked. Then, something funny happens, is it coincidence? When I look outside during take-off I notice that we fly over the Instituto Politriz Murumbi Unit. I can see the blue doors, the half-open playground, happily we are too high to distinguish the kids. My breath stops for a moment but after a second, we rush into the clouds over Uberlandia and Minas Gerais and we proceed to Sao Paulo.
We fly to Sao Paulo, the immense city that has more inhabitants than my country. I land at São Paulo/Congonhas Airport which is the national airport. It takes ages of flying over this city and it’s outskirts before we hit the runway. This city is really huge. Once I have my luggage back, a taxi ferries me to the international airport of São Paulo/Guarulhos (GRU) where I will have to wait for 6 hours before the KLM 777 will bring me back to Amsterdam. So, no rush again. I will also meet Terumine, my Japanese team member, still working on our assignment.
He is fixing one or two things on the webpage that we delivered (www.instititutopolitriz.org). We have a chat but he’s flying through Paris before going to Tokyo.
Then, after a couple of hours, the blue bird docks at 17:00 and will leave 19:15, right on time. Contrary to the trip down here, the flight back up is a real smooth ride. No bumpy ride over the Atlantic and it is 11:50 when we arrive at Schiphol, Amsterdam.
My wife and kids are awaiting me there and it is good to have them near me after four weeks. We Facetimed, called, sent letters etc, but there’s no thing like the real thing. #ibmcsc brazil
So, as the assignment is concluding I would like to thank some persons individually for the things they’ve have done to enrich my life. Some in a somewhat more visible or louder way than others, by no means would that be the indicator ot the importance of your contribution.
Anna, thank you for your company. You have such a positive attitude towards life. You visibly enjoyed every moment of the assignment and we had great fun. You are a great dancer and were always “on” for any invitation into the city. I don’t think you missed one night! I really, really enjoyed being in your company.
Mike: always coming along with us. You were always the first man in the lobby (!). Your knowledge of and quest for new types of beer is immense and it has been an absolute pleasure of being in your company. Your British humour combined with the New Zealand openness was so nice to be with.
Marc: thank you. Thank you for bringing your hair-trimmer. Hahaha. Otherwise I would have been flying back like a hippy. On a more serious level, you seem to find the good combination of having a great time and exploring the world around you on this assignment.
Christy: what would our assignment have been without you. You captured all the video’s (what happens in Caldas Novas…) and I will always be your surrogate brother-in-law John. Your “Oh my’s…..” and irresistible laugh will resonate long after we’ve gone home and I thank you for being my swimming buddy during our stay.
Paul: our sportsman. I admire you for how you interact with people. Not some of us, but everyone, really. You make people feel special, I have seen that. You are open, you ask; thank you for demonstrating your interest in all of us.
Sylvie: our hope at bus stations, in restaurants, our translator, pushing us to the extreme limits of the night but still climbing poles, but what a great sense of humour, your ever-flowing energy and a fine nose for what needs to be done, said, or needs to be called (taxi’s!). Merci!
May, you really surprised me. What a funny lady you are! At first I didn’t know whether you were making jokes, but later I found out what a fine and nice sense of humour you have. You told me about your family and I hope they are well! You are a true warm person and I very much liked your company.
Hazira: you never cease to amaze me. You have so much to offer. I feel that I only scratched the / your surface, though we have had our talks. It was so nice being with you. I thank you for trusting me you life (in the swimming pool as you said you couldn’t swim). I don’t know any colleague has ever said that to me…
Jill: thank you Jill. You are filled with positive energy. You say what you want and take the lead. We listen because you say what we all think without imposing yourself. I like that a lot, it must be our common Ireland – Dutch directness that binds us.
Joel; we were the first to do the team assignment (presenting each other) and the firsts to rappel down the 300 foot (orso) waterfall together. That are the kind of things that make us bond. You have a fine sense for humour and detail. Your “American openness” is contagious. You developed into a great blogger. Great! It is good to have you around, you will be on the look-out for any hazard or danger that will be ahead. You appreciate nature and teach us where to look and what to look for. It has been a great pleasure and honor sharing these weeks with you.
Leslie, though our paths have not crossed very often, (apart for breakfast we seem to have the same schedule) I have gradually become your fan. I really appreciated your down-to-earth openness, your kindness towards others and your willingness to be a constructive member of the group. Not a day went by that I did not see you smile!
Michael, in my eyes, I think you were one of the people that immediately “fell” for Brazil. I could see you quickly being absorbed by the food, the caipirinha’s, the dancing lessons and our visit to the Vinyl Club (you went again). I was not part of your NGO team but felt a click as you were working for a same kind of organisation. You intergrated seemlessly and it was good fun working with you.
Nirav, thank you for leading us into the social life of Brazil and the Brazilians. With your Portuguese background, you opened doors and showed us / had us taste things / had us experience Brazil even more. You are also a great Samba / Forro [Fô-hô] dancer for which I admire you. You also seem to be very acrobatic, you showed us numerous times in Caldas Novas and at/in the bus (terminal) – “where is the noodle!”. You are a nice person to be with. Warm, sharing and never a dull moment with you. Keep the beard! Obrigado.
Radhesh, I have really appreciated your level of energy. You pull like three horses and enjoy life visibly. You were a great contributor to the team from the first day we were “assembled”. I admire you for picking up the language so quickly and you seemed like a real Uberlandian already.
Robert, (Hô-bèt-shi), being on my sub-team, I spent most of my assignment time with you. Apart from being a great team-member, I think we kind of got along quite well. You shared your life, including that of your family in Dubai and Thailand, including that of your father in Slowakia (or Romania?, Bulgaria? Hahaha). Your drive-to-action is contagious where your “Let’s just dó it!” has become our team slogan. We spent quite some time at Cajuba, not only to work, but also to relax. I had a great time with you, thank you for being around!
Sumin: quite a lady, from DC, always busy, on the assignment or on hunt for more Havaianas. I think you tasted everything in the restaurants, danced every dance and drank every fruit juice available. Hahaha. Always with a big smile and a nice word for everyone. You rock!
Terumine. You must have taken some two thousand pictures. When I close my eyes, I see your silhouette with your camera fixed to your head. You are not the most outspoken of the team, but when you speak, you say things that matter. That is a great strength. Thank you for being my teammate at Instituto Politriz, we had a great time.
Cecilia: I thank you for your insight into your life and though we did not work together I found it extremely nice to have you on the team. Your energy is so high, you have an enormous drive. I can tell by the number of Havaianas and bikini’s you have bought for your family. You also shared some of your personal life with me and we discussed differences in China versus The Netherlands. Hope you are well.
Karin; you were our introduction to Brazil. By taking us along during the pre-work of the assignment we got to know each other, Brazil and our NGO’s. You invested the time to get us up-to-speed with the assignments but, when the moment was there, you had to let us fly. As if we were kids now on our own. I can imagine it must have been hard, but you did a great job. We were well prepared and took off like a rocket!
Larissa; our baseline, our physical link to Brazil. You have been our lifeline to all the activities that we’ve undertaken here in Uberlandia and beyond. Never have we called upon you without answer, you were always there when we needed you. Prepared with addresses, names, places, things to do, things not to do, warnings, suggestions, excursions, dancing lessons, instructions to taxi drivers, bus drivers, bouncers and I could go on for many more lines. You also made us “taste” Brazil by letting us into your personal life, presenting us to your family and Gustavo at great risk, as you asked us to cook! There is no way I could pay you back (virtually) what you have given me and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget the time I spent in Uberlandia and your role in that.
Vanessa; muito obrigado. It was such a shame you had to leave after our first days in Uberlandia. Your passion for life, especially the Brazilian one, is contagious. You quickly got us up to speed with Brazilian do’s and don’ts and you were a source of information and inspiration for me.
Bruno; you have been our weekly sparring partner. For our experiences with our clients, for things we needed to solve. To put your/a Brazilian blanket over our findings and seeing things from a neutral perspective. You were also our guide during our first steps into your country. You made us grow, you mad us learn and you made us high on Brazil!!! I thank you for that.
Rodrigo; you have boosted your CDS team into such a great group of people to work with. You lead by example and showed interest in all of us. I liked your introduction session during our first meeting and hope that many new teams may undergo the same Brazilian welcome shower
Leticia & Mathaeus; our two valuable teammembers from the University of Uberlandia (UFU). Apart from translating everything into Portuguese and back to English, you showed us your country, your city and introduced us to things that are normal for Brazilians but new to me. Given the fact that you were doing your final tests and were staying with us during the days, but also guided us during many nights, you did an excellent job in being a host and showing the way to other students. You are the future of your country!