From Brazil to Canada and Back

The blog has taken a break and grobby leveraged her strategic capabilities to land her a trip to a professional convention in Toronto. This was the first time in the 5 months since my arrival here and there were so many things to catch up on that I didn’t even realize that I was missing. Step one was the realization that I am back to mother America when I landed in Charlotte for a connection stop. I almost ran to the so familiar Bank of America ATM to take out money, just for the heck of it. I then had to explain to a cashier what is a credit card with a chip and why do I need to enter a code in order to use it. Following that, I have to explain to my Brazilian colleague why the USA doesn’t use credit cards with chips and that we’re not so advanced against fraud prevention. Later on, I happily noticed a Chilli’s restaurant (that in my normal life you couldn’t pay me to be seen at or have any interest in), and then had to explain to my colleague the merits of an American breakfast – eggs, pancakes, sausage.. yummmm!!! She appreciated the experience.

Funny, how the small things in life do make a difference. When in Toronto, I used my free time to catch up with the simple pleasures such as bagel with cream cheese, Chipotle burrito bowl, thai food, dim sum, big pharmacy with lots of options for cosmetics, a shopping mall with the brands I like, clean streets, properly-flushing toilets, courteous waiters, free glasses of water with dinner, etc.

Many other things happened during this trip but I will share one interesting anecdote. One of the evenings of the convention, I was about to get a drink with a friend. As we were waiting in the queue to the get a seat at the bar, an older gentleman (around 70), approached us and started chatting with us. He was dressed in a typical business casual (khakis, button-up shirt and sweater) , with a funny hat that made him look like an anthropology professor. He presented his card that said he’s a private investor and said he is retired and goes to these conferences just to meet his friends and have fun. He then insisted in joining our table and after some initial resistance we accommodated. One by one, his friends started arriving and joining our table. We kept squeezing more people into the sofa and wondering what the hell is happening. With each friend arriving, the process went as follows: Our new friend, would introduce the person, tell us how he is very successful geologist and entrepreneur who made millions, then the newly arrived guest will praise our friend in return and say something along the same lines as his own introduction and then join the table. Then they would proceed to discuss some investments or common businesses, with alternating pauses for telling a story on how they were young and crazy explorers back in the day in Colombia or some other random country. A completely surreal experience. I recently read a book about Hemingway’s life in Paris and the Parisian artist society cafe circle and decided that our new friend is the Hemingway of geology. Every 5 mins someone came to our table to shake his hand or toast with him. Upon my return to Brazil, I asked an ex-geologist colleague about this man, and he was pretty shocked that I had met him. He is indeed one of the best known in the field.  Life is random. As I always say.