Saturday, April 9, 2011

My spring break trip to Brazil - Chris

Over spring break I was lucky enough to visit Brazil as part of my Emerging Market Field Studies Class. We had spent the quarter learning about Brazil and Brazilian culture, as well as working on a project with a company located in Sao Paulo, but now came the fun part. We were going to fly down and experiencing it for ourselves.

Thanks to the good people at U.S. Airways I was lucky enough to spend a night in Charlotte before actually making it to Brazil. I made the best of it and headed downtown to check out the city. The local St. Patrick’s Day parade/festival was going on so I was able to watch some Irish dancing.

Luckily for me, my friend Grant was heading to the western part of NC to do some hiking and decided to stop by for a drink and to hang out. A good Irish pub with good Guinness and rugby on the tv… I guess Rio could wait for a day.

After finally arriving in Rio we took a bus to our hotel in the Ipanema district. This is the place where the song “girl from Ipanema” was written. Our hotel was only a block from the ocean, but because of loosing a day of our trip I only got to spend a little time there. We also went to two touristy places in Rio: Sugarloaf mountain, and the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Here is the obligatory O-H-I-O from our trip.

This is the view from the statue, I think it is of the Ipanema district.

For our first dinner we went to a typical Brazilian BBQ restaurant. I don’t know if anyone has been to one in the states, but I highly recommend it. There are side dishes of food on a regular buffet table, but the best part is the servers walking around with skewers full of roasted meat. Beef, pork, chicken, sausage, turkey, steak, you name it and they were walking around the restaurant ready to give you a slice. We also got the first taste of the traditional Brazilian drink the Caipirinha, which is made with limes, sugar and sugarcane alcohol. These things will knock you down quick.

For one of the educational parts of our trip we met the CEO of Brazilian clothing company Osklen, and were able to take a short tour of their headquarters. This company basically has a bunch of different ideas and is acting on all of them at once. Three of the groups in class had worked with employees from Osklen on a few different projects: launching a new t-shirt business, market research for a brand new gaurana based energy drink, and starting a sustainability consulting arm. Here is a link to a shoe they make using a very sustainable “fish leather”

We figured out pretty soon in Brazil that most everyone is really focused on sustainability and recycling.

Visiting Sao Paulo was a little different, the place is huge, and much more modern looking than Rio. It felt just like a normal big city… well, one where I didn’t speak the language.
While in Sao Paulo my team gave our presentation to Ashland chemical on the project we had been working on. I thought the presentation went well. We had an audience of 8-10 of Ashland’s Brazilian employees who work with the issues that we had worked on, such as import tariffs, transportation costs, and changing taxes, that affect their supply chain. We got peppered with a lot of good questions about our recommendation and it was a really good experience to be able to talk to people that deal with these issues every day. I think they appreciated hearing our analysis from another point of view.

After our time in Sao Paulo we had to head back to the land of the buckeyes, but not before some more pain inflicted by U.S. Airways. I had to run to my connecting flight in Charlotte, but I ended up making it. A few of my classmates weren’t so lucky and had to wait a few hours for another plane.

But wait there’s more!! I thought I made it to Columbus safe and sound until I was the last guy at the baggage claim without any bags, U.S. Airways strikes again! Oh well, Sonya and I headed home to see the puppies and my bag made it back later on, luckily with my bottle of Cachaca sugarcane alcohol intact. So stop by and we’ll have a Caipirinha or two next time you’re in Columbus.

1 comment:

Steve and Sharon said...

Great re-cap of your trip, mom and I really enjoyed the story. Maybe we can taste the Brazilian drink the next time we are down...