Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sao Paulo loves Lil Wayne and ..... Huey Lewis?

Today, the second day on the job in Sao Paulo (4th day in the city overall) started similar to the first. wake up, get ready, and head down for the continental breakfast at the Mercure Jardins Hotel. The breakfast spread is rather good including the daily staples of Sucrilhos (seriously you have to visit that website so click the link) eggs, deli cheese and meats (that's right just like Europe), yogurt, bread, scones, and a lavish spread of fruit. The hotel also changes up some of the offerings which have thus included bacon, sausage, waffles, and today the "spicy sausage".
I decided to get some of the spicy sausage with my eggs so I could have some make shift hot sauce, and after taking a closer look once I was seated I realized it was actually a "frank". What the heck is a "frank" you ask? You all know what it is. No? How about if I say Frank and Beans? Ahh, that's right, it was a piece of a hotdog. All food is better in Sao Paulo so I ate it with my eggs and it was actually pretty tasty!

I jumped in the taxi hoping to have a better communication and taxi ride than the day before and it started rather slow. I got in and handed the driver the address, and started listening to his radio station which I quickly realize are American songs and every car Ive been in since landing Saturday have been playing American songs. The words say "Yes, it's true, (yes it's true) I am happy to be stuck with you
Yes, it's true, (yes it's true) I'm so happy to be stuck with you, 'Cause I can see, (I can see) that you're happy to be stuck with me". So there I am, 830am with just the taxi driver and Huey Lewis. He starts the meter and looks at the address again and then reaches for his glove compartment that I assume would be his GPS. It was actually a gun. Now that I have caused my mother's jaw to hit her Amish Computer Desk, I will say just kidding. It was actually a small book of maps. No not like an atlas, it was like a phone book but with street names and maps of Sao Paulo. Apparently not all cab drivers have invested in technology that allows them to deliver their precious cargo to a location anywhere in the city in a timely manner. You did already read the line where I said he started the meter right? The meter was now at $7BRL before he turns to show me my road is not in his book. I have already handed him my "G" map directions that worked so well the day before but for some reason he could not understand the maps I had already printed out for him to use. I guess if it was not in his little book he did not know about it. But then if he knew about it, he would not need that little book of maps, right? Off we go, cab driver is texting and looking at my maps with the concentration of ten men. Keep in mind that its Sao Paulo so we stop a lot so that gives him ample time to take the big map and realize I am trying to get to Brooklin. I believe all is well and I am studying the people, stores, cars, and buildings in this high rise metropolis as we zoom down the same route as the day before. We get about 5 minutes away from the destination and he pulls over and reaches for his gun again. I meant book of maps. Turns to me and rattles off several works, which I'm sure made complete sentences if you understand Portuguese, however keep in mind that I do not. I try to use some Spanish and understand the word telefono and quickly realizes he wants me to call the company I am headed to. To his surprise I speak a few English, Spanish, and Portuguese words that give him the message that I didn't have a phone nor can I call the company because no one is there yet that would know English. I point to the phone number and he calls it and gets someone at the company. He still seems rather confused but I get a kick out of hearing him tell the person on the other line that he near Portugal Avenue and Florida Avenue. Not sure why hearing the taxi driver say Flo-rida in the same tone as the US based rapper Tramar Dillard (Stage Name "Flo-Rida") gave me such a smile. The voice on the other end of the phone had to have been an angel because a couple minutes later I was at my destination, paying $37BRL to the driver and ready for the second day at work.

The day is off the a great start, I'm one of the first ones in the office so I decide to try out my new company branded stainless steel water bottle. Keep in mind its not the same size as the bottles you are probably thinking about in the U.S that holds 32 ounces of refreshing water. Its a great bottle and its the size of the suggestion serving size of liquids which is 12 ounces. One thing that I have noticed is that by drinking less water, I may be dehydrated more but I'm not going to the bathroom every hour either. Small sacrifices a man must make! I filled up my brand new bottle branded with the company logo, giving me a sense of pride in my new company, and I sit down to take a drink. Let me set the stage for you. The bottles in the US either had a screw off top that you drink straight from the bottle or they have a top that allows for the easy flow of water. This bottle had a top on it that I could not figure out. It has a cover that pulls off and then under the cover there is a top that looks like a squeeze bottle top so I go to squeeze the bottle and I'm quickly reminded it is stainless steel. I then go to suck water out of the top, but get nothing. I am perplexed and dumbfounded at this point. Keep in mind that I was a High School Valedictorian, a 3.95 GPA in college while double majoring and playing basketball, 3.98 GPA in Graduate School, and passed all of the parts to the CPA exam on the first try. I don't necessarily remind you of this to boast, but wanted to point out that I am at least as smart as the average bear, but this bottle got the better of me. I eventually decided to just unscrew the top and drink out of it like a cup. Water Bottle 1, Tyler 0.

The day flew by as I continue to get acquainted with the company's processes, financial results, and the people. The people could not be more accepting and fun to work with as we both try to work through the longest game of "Pictionary" I've ever been a part of. A few speak good English which is great but I wish I knew more Portuguese as it really is a cool language and I am in their country after all. At the end of the day I pack my backpack and head out to conquer the Sao Paulo taxi system again. I hand the taxi driver the address of my hotel and speak a sentence of Portuguese "Hotel es Mercure Jardins a Alameda Itu and Augsto" and I was greeting with "Ok we go". We pull onto the road and I head Dwyane Michael Carter Jr. aka Lil Wayne comes across the radio waves. This time, the taxi ride was flawless.

For dinner, Katie, Jamie, and I met with with Daniel Carlini from the E&Y Sao Paulo Office. I had met Daniel at the New Manager Training in Orlando Florida a year ago and remember he lived in Sao Paulo so I reached out to meet up. Daniel took us up to Paulista Avenue to a shopping center with a food court which was more than just fast food, but many restaurants that included steakhouse, sushi, Arabic food, Italian, and so on. And the best part was... it was cheap! And by cheap I meant cheaper. Tonight's meal was only $35 BRL for two sushi rolls and a water ("Agua sem gas" = Natural Drinking Water as a lot of water has carbonation in here just like in Europe). One question I asked Daniel was regarding the music we have been hearing and if they understand the songs but cannot speak English. Daniel filled me in that they listen to American music at an early age and even though many do not understand the words, they are listening to the music for the rhythm and beat as opposed to the actual words. What a novel idea! I figure that if Lil Wayne and Huey Lewis can be played on the radio in Sao Paulo, I can call it home for the next two months.

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