Third week… Working week!

Friday, 27th of September. Third week. Working week. Not that the first two weeks were not like working, but this week is really meant to put together everything that we got out of the first two. As our last week will be filled with presentations and community services, we are trying to be as ready as we can today and during the (last, yes) weekend.

So, in the mornings we set our goals for the day and we’ll get things done, one by one. In the afternoon we gather what we have and present to ourselves the materials and will adjust here and there. Of course, during the day we interact, which each other, with the Instituto Politriz staff and so many others that are around.

Image

These are the Instituto Politriz’ angels who provide for the 100 kids in our unit

On the social level; Wednesday we got our last dancing lessons and our teacher is so kind to bring us to a salsa/forro club in the city.

Image

Entrance to the Escola de Danca Leonardo

This is the real Brazil, it is hot, people are passionate, dancing and I feel that the local people are trying the best to let us gringo’s see what their culture is about. We take our dancing lessons to practice and they’ll let is into their culture, the dancing teacher kindly making minor adjustments to our steps. The Brazilians laugh, but kindly get out of our way when our moves are too big. Samba can be intimate. Especially when there’s lots of people around.

Image

It is great fun and I enjoy every minute of being between the local people and their real whereabouts. The language is often a bit of a barrier but we manage. Anyway, it’s only about body language here, which seems universal 😉 It is sad that this dancing class has been our last, I really enjoyed it. Thank you Larissa for taking us there and having the teacher embrace us. So, Monday evening was IBM status meeting, Tuesday we were supposd to be taken out with the Politriz people, but that got cancelled (that just happens here without reason), Wednesday, dancing class, yesterday I worked on our deliverables… Friday evening was relaxing; Cajuba.Country Club, where we even had a brief contact with the local IBM Branchmanager. #ibmcsc brazil

foto (18)

Advertisements

Decompression…

Saterday 21st of September. We have made plans to visit Caldas Novas during the weekend. Caldas Novas is a thermal hot spring some 250 kilometers north of Uberlandia. Syvlie has taken upon her to make reservations for a hotel and a bus bringing us. We leave at 09:00 from the hotel and we have long drive towards the hot spring complex.

Beautiful Brazilian landscape

Beautiful Brazilian landscape

Bus stop, stretch the legs and buy some local refreshments (*)

Bus stop, stretch the legs and buy some local refreshments (*)

On our way, to Caldas Novas

On our way, to Caldas Novas

Penny for your thoughts, Hazira...

Penny for your thoughts, Hazira…

It turns out to be a sort of amusement park, with attractions in and around the water. We do a quick check-in, have lunch and we head to the hot spring complex.

#workhardplayhard Caldas Novas crew!

#workhardplayhard Caldas Novas crew!

We have good fun, especially in the numerous pool bars this complex is having. It also features all sort attractions involving water and slides.

foto (9)

One of the numerous pool bars

The later it gets, the better we get to know each other as we are playing games like “truth or dare” (I bet you’d never… ) and have time to have good conversations. The evening falls and we move up from one pool bar to another, moving up the complex. The higher we go, the warmer and clearer the water gets. We also meet Maria. A young girl, only 15 years of age and she is taking every opportunity to speak in English with us. She tells us that she’s been studying English over the last years and she’s doing really great. There are not many Brazilians speaking English at all, I guess her language advantage is going to be a great asset to her.

Evening over Caldas Novas

Evening over Caldas Novas

After a crazy bus ride back to the hotel – some people will deny it ever happened – we continue with a small after-party in the hotel and go to sleep at 03:30 or so. A long day indeed. Sunday morning, we try to check out but there is this enormous queue. It is going to take ages before we get checked-out so there’s no sense in going to the springs as the bus is due early in the afternoon for the 3 and half hour way back to Uberlandia. So we decide to hang out around the hotel pool. There is a quite nice area, with a swimming pool and a cold waterfall to cool us a bit as the temperature is rising quickly.

Waterfall in the hotel pool

Waterfall in the hotel pool

Robert in the hotel pool

Robert in the hotel pool

Still a bit groggy on what one might have called a a “long” evening, we chill and discuss, some take the opportunity to buy the so wanted “Havaianas”, the popular Flip Flops from Brazil. They come in all sorts and colours and there’s a pair of Havaianas for everyone.

There's Havaianas for everybody!!!

There’s Havaianas for everybody!!!

 I believe in total there must be some 25 pairs in total. I think a good number of them will go to China, where they’re quite “hot” (but also made, I guess…)

Evening over the Brazilian savanna

Evening over the Brazilian savanna

In the afternoon, the bus is bringing us back to the hotel. We are tired after the 3,5 hours bus ride over bumpy roads but Larissa is pumping up our energy level and is taking is to a local restaurant in Uberlandia. Sapateria da Pizza.

Amazing Pizza place in Uberlandia

Amazing Pizza place in Uberlandia

Most of us find the energy to follow and indeed, it is a nice restaurant. It’s a pizzeria, but the pizza’s are Uberlandia-style. The resemble quiches, with local produces and the are really nice. We finish with a Nutella / strawberry pizza. This is too much for me. No sweets on my pizza please! We head back to the hotel where I spend some time working on the website and the blog. A weekend well spent. #ibmcsc brazil

Half way…

Friday 20 September 2009, we are half way on our assignment. We have been here for two weeks now and it is nice to see how our team is evolving. Not only our own -small – team, but also the group dynamics in general. It is good that we have our chats after the working days and during breakfast. We are all encountering the same nice things and challenges working in Brazil. We are starting to recognize patterns and I think that we are all doing well.

A common thing is that is really hard to get things done for the project plan. There is always a lot of distraction. Noise, playing children, music lessons, people come and go and need introductions. And there will always be some sort of general idea of what the day will bring. But that is nothing more than a general guideline. An overarching idea. Brazilian people are so flexible. It is so opposite to our Western culture where being late for 5 minutes can be considered as being offensive. Here they’ll just laugh. 5 minutes??? We need to get used to it. Things change constantly over here. All the time.

Now, for our assignment. We have taken our first steps into being online. We are thinking about the setup and structure of the Politriz website. It forces us into really good discussions about the vision, audiences and strategy for it. But, there is real time pressure to deal with. So we make this plan and we try to stick to it. We set ourselves some deadlines and we go to work. But just as we begin, (and there we go again) the Internet goes down, even worse, the electricity goes down too. We decide to have lunch and we soon discover the reason why the internet is not working. The Institute has failed to pay the bills… It’ these kind of things that are holding us from making progress. But, after a short call and the promise to pay, the internet is up again and we work in “silence” (with Jivago, the dancing teacher in the background). Yet again, there is distraction. The local TV station is following us here again. They interview some kids and the NGO leader. And, first and foremost, they decide to donate this big stereo that the dancing teacher needs so desperately. Good news!

By the end of the day, the internet decides that the weekend is approaching. The performance is rapidly decreasing. This is not helping us getting the site online and doing our research for our plan. So we switch to offline modus and work the Powerpoint and Word documents that we are creating. In the end, we present the work done to ourselves and I think we made good progress. It is getting dark and we need to go. It’s seven o’clock and we head into the city. The weekend has begun. People are all over the streets and having drinks and BBQ’s on the street. It is really too bad that this part of the city is dangerous and we cannot get out of the car. I’d love to just walk around, but we are not supposed to. We spot one of the teachers living here. She insists that we meet her husband and we kindly present ourselves through the car window. It will be as close as we will get to the people living here. #ibmcsc brazil Unfortunately.

Capoeira

Thursday 19th of September, today we will go to a different location of the Instituto. The have 3 now, a smaller one, in the City of Uberlandia, a second one, in the outskirts of Uberlandia, in the region called Murumbi. Again, an area that is really bad. During daytime, it’s kind of OK, but one should not wonder around after the sun has set.

Image     Image     Image

But today we will visit the Murumbi location as there will be interviews of a local television channel during Capoeira lessons.

Capoeira; Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ]) is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for a wide variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques; at heart is the ginga, the back-and-forth, foot-to-foot movement that serves as the starting point for such leverage. Capoeira used in genuine self-defense situations incorporates many sweeps and low moves, whereas when played as a game there is more emphasis on high moves, demonstrations of acrobatics, full cartwheels (called au) for evasion, and flips or other exotic techniques by mestres (masters), and performing an entertaining match for the audience.

The word capoeira probably comes from the Tupi language, referring to the areas of low vegetation in the Brazilian interior where the game was played. It was invented by slaves and disguised as a dance in order to prevent its capoeiristas from punishment or execution for learning how to fight and defend themselves, which was forbidden to those who were legally defined as property. It is nearly always practiced to traditional Brazilian berimbau music.

Image

Capoeira classes, boys and girls alike.

So we set off and go there. Once we’re there, we’re greeted by the kids and they already know us. Lessons start and from the beginning, It’s very, very contagious and soon we are all dancing with the kids. I do not know whether this local TV station has caught us also on television, but I hope they’ve cut me from their footage. Seems like the Brazilians are all made of rubber and we are made of steel. Unbelievable! #ibmcsc brazil

Image

Capoeira classes, from young kids to older ones. Everybody participates

Website and Facebook

Wednesday 18th of September, Today is an important day for our deliverables. First, we got all the passwords and the userid’s for the Institute’s Facebook page. This will enable us to get more updated content on their page and demonstrate that this can increase their visibility in the Uberlandia region. So, please, please, please “like” the Instituto Politriz Facebook page. (the one with 240+ likes). https://www.facebook.com/pages/Instituto-Politriz/455225131214540 Thank you. Already later this evening we are seeing some 10% increase of traffic compared to what we would normally see in a year, so that is good news. Please join all the newcomers in liking our page. We will also create a set of instructions that will enable the Institute teachers and/or administrative people to update the page on a regular base. It can also serve as a guide for the many (foreign) exchange students that are passing by here and that could also play an active role here.

We are also very busy setting up the domain for the Institute’s webpage. This seems more complicated as we are having trouble to do so. We paid, put the settings right, but it won’t fly. We are in contact with the help desk but things are moving slowly. In the end we are told that it will take one day to register and that we’ll be able to structure the site to our needs. I am sure that Terumine will play a big role here as his fingers create webpages as we speak.

Image

Together with the initial layout that we made, this should really go well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow. Another point is, is that there seems to be material everywhere. On telephones, on PC’s, on USB sticks, DVD’s. If time permits, it would be great to create some sort of repository of all data where these things could be stored for eventual future use.

Image

The day ends, we had hoped to be online today, but it will just not be. We are told that it will be tomorrow. Amanhã. A big thing here, this “amanhã”. Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

We head home (hotel) and we witness a beautifull sun going down. Hard to capture with the iPhone, but nevertheless…

Image

Then, there is relaxation. We have a bite at Thalia next door (it seems this is the most popular place to have a bite or a quick snack before we start the evening programme) and we go for dancing classes at 21:00. Already we feel that the temperature is building up again. Summer is coming. The classroom is hot and we sweat ourselves through the inevitable dance moves of the Samba and Forro [fô-hô]. But we’re getting the hang of it (I think :-)). After the dancing lessons we stop at a bar to hydrate our bodies. We are already making plans for our trip to Caldas Novas next weekend. Sylvie has been so kind to make reservations and arrange for transportation. Thank you for that Sylvie! Nearly the whole team will come. So it is bound to be a great experience yet again. #ibmcsc brazil