The work day was started just like every other day with the cleaning lady, "Dona" Vera, asking if I wanted any coffee or tea. Even though I have yet to drink either in my time here, she still offers each morning. But today also included her coming in to tell me goodbye. Dona Vera and I have had some very funny interactions as she does not speak any English and I have no idea what she is saying because I do not speak Portuguese. Sometimes throughout the seven weeks, she would forget that I do not speak English and when I turned around with a big smile on my face she realizes that I do not understand what she is saying. Thankfully we have had people like Janaina, Vanessa, and Catia to interpret for us. She told me that she was going to miss me very much when I go back to Ohio, so I gave her a big hug. Dona Vera is only about 5' tall so you can imagine that it was quite a funny situation.
We also planned a farewell lunch with the management team of Tecno Logys. The lunch included the people I have interacted with the most at Tecno Logys: Catia, Vanessa, Nubia, Halysson, Janaina, Guilherme and Valerio. Rodrigo and Fabio were in Rio de Janeiro "working" on building the market there, so I did not get to have lunch with the two biggest Corinthian soccer fans in the company. We met for a true Brazilian meal at Churrascaria Bufalo Grill. This is what Americans would refer to as a Brazilian Steakhouse style restaurant. Valerio kicked off the lunch by sharing a few words about my time here in Brazil working with Tecno Logys and presented me with a gift, a Brazilian national team soccer jersey. If you could think of one symbol of Brazil that would be the most recognized as the heart of Brazil, you would likely think of soccer so it was very fitting. The gift was another great show of hospitality here in Brazil and perhaps the best gift of all, was Valerio's words when he included that I have become a great friend as well. I tend to make friends easily, but my time here was very special as I was able to spend a lot of time with several great people and have come to know them as friends as well. I have also gotten to know Valerio's family including the great "Bernardo", Valerio's son.
After Valerio spoke his words it was time to eat. As the waiters circled the table with their slabs of meat consisting of multiple types of steak, sausage, and chicken, we feasted and talked. It was almost reminiscent of a "Thanksgiving" dinner in the United States as we feasted and shared our thanks to each other and also talked a little business. One member of the management group that I had not had a chance to talk to much due to the language barrier is the manager of Supply Chain, Nubia. Aside from exchanging "Hello" and "Bon Dia" we had not said much during the seven weeks so we had a very good conversation with the help of Catia and Vanessa as translators. She is a very smart and funny person so it was great to finally get a chance to talk with her. She plans to study English over the next year so I told her that I looked forward to speaking with her in English when I return so we can share more ideas next time and know each other more. I also plan to return to studying Spanish when I get back and then maybe I will move on to Portuguese to be able to effectively communicate in their language as well.
One of the other national symbols is the Brazilian coffee. I do not drink coffee so I chose not to drink it throughout my stay, but during this meal I decided to surprise my new friends and order a post meal espresso with them. I figured that even though I do not drink coffee, I should try it for the experience of having a Brazilian coffee. I have one word to describe Brazilian coffee, strong. The good thing about the coffee is that I now had the ample caffeine to get through the scheduled afternoon meetings after such a large meal. After these afternoon meetings where Valerio and I exchanged ideas and discussed my project and the business in depth, it was time for me to hand in my building access pass and pack up my things. At 6:53pm, or 18:53, I left the 5th floor of the building located at 182 Rua Alvaro Rodrigues to find my taxi.
Although it would not be my last taxi ride in Sao Paulo, it would be the last time for a while that I would see my friend across the street cooking meat wearing his 20 gold chains and speaking to me in Portuguese. I do not know what he said but I believe he told me that he will miss me as well. After several taxi's passing me by giving me the Dikembe Mutombo finger wave that they were not stopping, I found my farewell taxi which included views of a woman juggling fire sticks, a unicyclist, and of course the Sao Paulo traffic.
I do not like to say goodbye because it implies you aren't coming back so rather I choose "Until Next Time", Tecno Logys.