The Ball Game

    The Ball
Game

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    By John Miller

    Bus adventures
    continued

    Selling on the buses seems to be at an all-time high of late. The vendors have been
    really working the buses hard. But how many Mars bars, Chokitos, toe nail clippers, pens,
    caramels, leather belts, fuzzy things with batteries inside that go ding dong can you buy.
    I already have four toe nail clippers and I’m never short of caramels and Chokitos in the
    refrigerator. Gees, the words product diversification ring in my ears; I have to get these
    guys something different to sell.

    The other day I was going into the city, and I am sitting by the open window, and
    another bus pulls up alongside extremely close. How close? Well the guy sitting in the
    window seat on the next bus obviously had garlic and fish for lunch, I could smell it.
    Well maybe it was not that close, the fish and garlic here can be a pretty strong smell at
    times.

    One thing I am yet to master is the "departing the bus with grace and
    dignity". Say I am at the back of the bus, hopefully sitting down, but sometimes
    standing, briefcase, suit and tie. So as I approach my departure point, I press the buzzer
    to request the bus to stop, and stand up if I have not done so already. Now just when you
    think the bus is not going to stop and go straight past your destination, the driver locks
    up all four wheels, air brakes hiss, smoke and rubber everywhere and the G forces build up
    like a NASA flight simulator.

    I am not one to boast, but I think I have an average sense of balance and coordination.
    However when the bus starts to enact a scene out of Speed, the movie, I usually end
    up flying down the aisle in the horizontal spear tackle position. My brief case is flying
    out behind me, collecting the head of every second passenger, and my body impales the
    front five passengers in the driver’s front window. I am reduced to apologizing and
    repeatedly saying "Desculpe, estúpido e desajeitado Argentino" (Sorry,
    stupid and clumsy Argentinean) to every passenger and driver on board, and as I depart the
    bus, I turn, smile and offer a friendly wave to all as the bus pulls away.

    There are just the most horrid scowls from the passengers on board, people holding
    their heads in pain, some pointing fingers at me and pulling triggers, others are shouting
    various terms of abuse and less flattering terms of endearment. (PS: If there are any
    Argentineans reading this article, feel free to impersonate and blame an Australian next
    time you are caught in an embarrassing situation.)

    The most embarrassing part of this is watching elderly Cariocas undertake this
    same assignment with the grace and dignity of a ballerina.

    Beach Culture
    Part 3

    OK, so I finished up on the beach last month about midday. So now we approach the
    afternoon, and it really starts to swing, the selling, the bathing, the tanning, the
    noise, it’s all happening. The only change is the drinking, eating and selling picks up
    steam, and there is just more of everything than in the morning. So I will describe some
    more specific activities to complete the daytime picture.

    Sunday

    Sunday is the most important beach day, as ½ of the main Avenue along the beachfront
    of Copacabana & Ipanema is closed to cars, and you can hoof it, roller blade it, bike
    it without the dreaded car. And the Carioca comes down in droves on Sunday, and
    really makes a day of it. It is very busy (about 150-200,000 people on the beaches between
    Leme & Leblon on a typically good day), and the Carioca is very happy, unless
    of course it is raining on a Sunday, the ultimate bummer. Late in the afternoon, when the
    shadows start to form on the beach, the Cariocas hit the bar huts & botecos
    for a cocolado, caipirinha, and cerveja.

    The bicycle track along the beachfront is a wonderful piece of town planning and is one
    of the best ways to get around the Zona Sul area. The bike track will take you from Leblon
    to Copacabana and Leme, then on to Botafogo, Flamengo, Glória, and into Centro, or
    alternatively through Lagoa and Gávea. The only problem is people (usually tourists) who
    walk off the footpath or median strip straight into the bicycle track without looking. I
    had one Tour de France type spill the other week because of this, and had some 5-10 cm
    nasty scabby wounds on my elbows and knees for the next three weeks. The tourist got off
    reasonably lightly fortunately, but please, if you are coming here, remember to look left,
    right left when you walk across the bicycle track.

    Locations

    One of the favorite beach locations is in front of the Ipanema Beach Club, a very
    historical Carioca club like those found at Palm Beach. The Ipanema Beach Club is très
    chic, very exclusive, prime real estate, with tennis courts, clubhouse, pool, restaurant,
    and reputed high social climbing value. In front of Ipanema Beach Club is where many of
    the Carioca teenagers hang out; it reminded me of a giant penguin colony in the
    Antarctica. The noise from all the teenagers jabbering away with the constant boing boing
    of the fresco ball is just enthralling. Not much room to walk around here except down by
    the surf, as every square meter is covered by Cariocas. It is like a scene out of
    some old Elvis Presley movie with Annette Funicelli and Frankie Vallie and the 4 Seasons.
    "Sherrie, Sherrie baby…….."

    Maconha

    Maconha (marijuana) is very popular on the beach, and if you get the right on
    shore breeze and downwind, can be a very interesting way to relax on the beach. Teenagers
    near the Post 9 (a surf life guard patrol point and shower block) are the most active in
    this area, and the chill out factor hear is very cool. The local beach police patrol seems
    pretty relaxed about this.

    Plane
    Advertising

    Four or five planes buzz up and down the beach on Saturday and Sunday with an
    advertising slogan towed behind. This costs $600 for the sign, and $150 for two passes of
    the Zona Sul and Niterói areas. The plane flies at just above stalling speed to maximize
    advertising time in front of consumer. When the winds are calm, you will also see ultra
    light aircraft and parachutists with an engines strapped to his back sailing the winds off
    Ipanema.

    Milkman

    One of the activities that takes place each morning between 6:00-7:00 AM is the milk
    delivery to the beach. The milk is delivered by truck to all the beach huts, and stored in
    the refrigerator. In Brazil, the milk for the beach does not come from a cow, but actually
    grows on trees. A bunch of milk is delivered to each beach hut/kiosk in containers that
    contain approximately 500 ml of milk. Only one flavor, coconut. The best part is you get
    to eat the container.

    The kiosk shop vendor opens the milk container with a machete. First he cuts a flat
    bottom to the coconut so you can rest it on the table. Then he cuts the top off with about
    four clean swipes of the machete. Then he inserts two straws and away you go to heaven.
    When you have finished, you take the container back to the vendor, he cuts a piece of the
    outer green covering off to act as a "spoon", then splits the green outer husk
    and brown inner husk in half with two mighty swipes of the machete. Then you scoop the
    coconut skin out with the "spoon", and its back to heaven.

    Body
    Surfing

    Ipanema is not really suited to body surfing except at Arpoador. We are lucky in Sydney
    with the shape of waves and sand bars that the waves break reasonably gently and slowly,
    and you can get a good ride just by body surfing, even without flippers. Ipanema beach
    waves just come out of the deep and break very quickly on the sand bar about 40-50 meters
    out. The waves break left and right very rapidly, many are just straight dumpers.

    I have given up trying to ride these waves, as I am tired of being churned up in the
    Atlantic washing machine. Sometimes after a couple of tumbles off a 1.5-2.0 wave, you get
    out of the ocean, and for the next 12 hours your nose empties the Atlantic ocean out at
    the most inconvenient time, usually onto your dinner plate or in your beer. If you get out
    the back of the break, then it is a very exhilarating swim and not at all crowded.

    At the same time, Ipanema is ideal for boogie boards, as you can get enough speed up to
    stay in front of the breaking tube. It is a short but very fast and intense beach break,
    and I have never seen a beach that so consistently produces glassy waves of 1.5-2.0 meters
    in size, day in day out.

    Bathing costumes
    Homens (Men)

    Only two bathing suit attires suitable: black Speedos for the Carioca that is
    well endowed, and black board-shorts with a stripe down the side and two metal press studs
    with Velcro fly, for guys like me that are not so well endowed. Brand names are important.
    Quicksilver and Mambo are two of the most popular.

    The male Carioca rarely sits on a towel, always on the sand or a chair. Females
    usually prefer chairs, but the sarong (canga) is quite popular as well. A staple
    food item on the beach is biscoitos, a type of biscuit, but more like eating fresh
    air with saltine crumbs. These cost $1 for a packet of about 15 rings of "prawn
    cracker" texture biscuit. They come in two types, sweet and salty although I cannot
    tell the difference. Do not attempt to talk and eat these biscuits at the same time as you
    end up with biscoitos all over your chest, and very hard to get out of chest hair
    when mixed with coconut suntan cream. They go well with an icy cold beer though, and it is
    like McDonald’s; you could eat 50 packets of these and still feel hungry.

    Local expressions
    and etiquette.

    Brazil has some nice turns of phrases. For example, a rough translation in English for
    "This is not my Beach," means you are not enjoying the current experience. Or
    "Let’s get back to the cold cow" means let us return to the facts or core
    subject. There are many expressions that do not translate exactly and I am sure vice
    versa.

    Kissing on cheeks is obligatory between men and women, women and women, not men and
    men. Right first, then left (then right again in São Paulo). Cheek kissing is pre and
    post social contact etiquette (and also very important in coitus-interruptus).

    Telerj

    My trials and tribulations with the local Telerj have been continuing, but nearly over.
    About eight weeks ago, I bought a new answering machine and telephone ($500), a Panasonic
    cordless. I bought this from a Telerj retail outlet in Rio Sul shopping center. Two weeks
    after I bought it the phone went dead. So Marta returned the phone to get it honored under
    warranty. Four weeks later, they are still umming and arring about whether it is real
    fault or misuse and so we are surviving with a standard telephone but with no answering
    machine.

    I have left Marta to run with this problem and she has used all her charm and Latin
    temper to get Telerj to honor the warranty. I feel for her as she is equally frustrated
    and she has been to see them at least once per week. It is the same old bullshit every
    time. I call in to the Rio Sul Telerj Office and explain that they are hurting me a great
    deal. I do this politely, and get the usual call back in one week for an answer. One week
    later the same thing. So I ask a few harder questions next time.

    The Telerj manager is a nice guy, but just a wimp and his problem is that the Panasonic
    distributor has him over a barrel, he has no power as a local retail Telerj manager. He
    can do nothing, so I think Panasonic are just playing hard ball. I decide after seven
    weeks it is time to show my frustration and call in again at the Telerj retail outlet.
    This time I have a letter saying how frustrated I am and dissatisfied with Panasonic, and
    that threat of legal action is under way (I know this is a poor bluff but at least I am
    sending the message).

    I give this to the Telerj manager and then say I will be back in one week, but when I
    come back I want to demonstrate what I will do if the phone is not replaced. So I then
    walk up to the first customer in the shop and explain to her that I will pay her $10 to
    get the same phone in the shop around the corner for the same price. We go and get the
    same phone about 100 meters away in a non-Telerj privately owned shop. She thanks me
    profusely and gives me my $10 back after she hears my horror story.

    I come back and the manager is looking at me and says, "You are some crazy
    gringo". I say "Yes I am, and to prove to you how crazy, I am going to stand
    outside the shop and tell everyone in the shopping mall in my loudest voice how
    dissatisfied I am as a customer". This I do for about 20 seconds, when the guy is
    practically on his knees begging me to shut up. He says "Please do not break the
    shop, please do not break the shop". I start winding my index finger against my
    temple and say "Eu sou maluco" (I am crazy).

    24 hours later I have a new replacement phone. (Telerj tried one more trick on me with
    a faulty phone adapter that I had to replace as well. I just walked in the shop with a can
    of neon spray paint and pretended to paint the place when the manager raced up with a new
    adapter. How did he know the adapter was broken when I had not even shown it to him?).
    After all was working properly Marta made a point of going to see the guy and giving him
    another earful (not pleasant, I have been on the receiving end of this once or twice and
    it is ferocious). In the end, I kind of felt sorry for the manager, it really was not his
    fault, and it could happen in any country, but gees, this type of thing really tests your
    patience.

    The Bathroom

    If there is one thing that gets up my nose more than anything else in the bathroom, it
    is when your spouse uses your razor to shave her legs and armpits. It’s just the pits. And
    why do they always take your last fresh blade. Marta thinks this is fun, a way of sharing
    or something intimate. I don’t, just blunt razors to shave with and consequent shaving
    rash and cuts. I will never understand this half of the population. I don’t think any of
    us men have.

    Flamengo versus Vasco
    Maracanã

    Marta gave me a nice present the other day. She bought two tickets to the football at
    Maracanã: Flamengo versus Vasco. This was an important near end of season game. Flamengo
    were on top and very successful. Vasco needed to win to stay in the hunt for the finals as
    such.

    Flamengo has reputedly the largest supporter base of any football club in the world.
    You soccer experts out there can argue over this, I am only relaying to you what has been
    told to me by many Brazilians, and not just Flamengo supporters. This is however the
    largest soccer playing nation on earth so it is not surprising. When I asked some
    Brazilians how many Flamengo supporters there were, 3-4,000,000 supporters in Rio de
    Janeiro alone suggested as a reasonable estimate, maybe treble this in Brazil. Flamengo
    supporters just dominate Rio de Janeiro, the club has been successful. It was established
    over 100 years old, from a support base in the old and very beautiful suburb of the same
    name.

    Similar football clubs (Botafogo, América, Vasco, Fluminense for example) also sprang
    up from suburbs and ethnic groups in Rio de Janeiro (for example the Vasco football club
    comes from the explorer Vasco da Gama and was formed from a base of Portuguese soccer
    players). Flamengo play in red and black horizontal stripes (sponsored by Petrobrás), and
    Vasco play in white with a single black stripe. Marta is a Flamengo addict, and a member
    of the club, which is now based in Leblon.

    We arrive by bus at about 4:15 PM on a Sunday afternoon. It has rained the last few
    days; the crowd is not expected to be too big, as the weather is relatively cold for Rio
    de Janeiro. Lots of over exuberant youths running around, the usual food stalls (camelôs)
    of all types (the most popular is the corncobs, kebabs and sausages, and manioc). Some of
    the Flamengo supporters are carrying Vasco coffins to bury the opposition supporters. Lots
    of face painting, banners, flags, jumpers, beanies, etc. Two guys dressed as Batman and
    Robin with Flamengo jumpers draw a crowd of photographers.

    We ask for directions from one of the stadium attendant’s as to which direction to head
    to the closest entrance to our seats, and get told to head off in a clockwise direction.
    Twenty minutes later we have circumnavigated 95% of the stadium (1 mile) to find our
    entrance (I guess the guy who gave us directions was keen to see all the people moving in
    the same direction). Lots of young kids trying to scale the fences and get in for free.
    They are treated pretty reasonably when they do make it over by the police, and summarily
    ejected.

    We head inside and the Vasco supporters on the next level of the stadium are throwing
    Coca-Cola, ice and some bodily fluids (yuk) at some other Flamengo supporters who arrived
    at the same time as us. This is going to be one of those nights I can feel. The fever is
    here like any great Coliseum, the smell of courage, victory, defeat, blood, sweat,
    passion, drama. The stadium is electric. The noise from inside is already very loud. We
    walk around another 50 meters and then up a ramp and into the inside stadium itself.
    Finally we walk out and I can see the crowd and it’s …………

    Oh boy, I am glad I am not a Vasco supporter. There must be at least 20 Flamengo
    supporters for every Vasco supporter. It is just a sea of red and black everywhere. BANG,
    what was that…………

    Firecracker’s. VERY LOUD firecracker’s. Inside we find some seats, get a drink, peanuts
    and a corncob. Football spectators are the same all over the world. This is like being at
    Wembley, the MCG, or Wrigley Field, one of life’s great live sporting experiences. I am
    surrounded by a red and black army, there is tension, drama, anticipation, adrenaline.

    The stadium flood lighting has come on and its only 20 minutes to start. The samba
    drums are playing, and then the flares and smoke bombs start. You cannot even see the
    other side of the ground there is so much smoke and red flares burning and the drums,
    firecrackers and singing are just so loud. The Flamengo crowd chants "M-e-n-g-o,
    M-e-n-g-o, M-e-n-g-o, Meeeeeeennnnnnnnnggggggggooooo,
    Mmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnngggggggggggoooooo’`, the Mexican waves start, and the
    players come onto the field.

    The crowd just goes ape shit, and starts belting cans and anything else that will make
    a noise against the metal seats. The noise is just unbelievable. The passion is here in a
    big way. They call out the names of the players, and some of the players blow kisses to
    the crowd. They have a special place for the goalie; this guy works the crowd well (he is
    also very good at his job). The media is here in droves, cameras, video, and goal-cam.

    There must be at least 4 helicopters overhead with searchlights fanning the crowd. It
    is awesome. Apocalypse Now! As you would expect, there are a number of constabulary here
    as well to ensure things go smoothly, but no more than what would be at a big game in
    Melbourne (well maybe a few more, and carrying a bit more firepower). I notice that no one
    sits on seats that are in a direct line of fire from overhead seats.

    OK the game kicks off, Flamengo to our end of the stadium. Marta & I are in the
    bottom left corner of the football pitch, about 50 meters back from the playing field.
    Brazilians say the rest of the world plays soccer, and they play football. They attack,
    take risks, and are very skillful. One guy on the wing for Flamengo is just killing his
    opposition player (the rest of Flamengo are playing badly, too casual, not chasing, lazy).
    About fifteen minutes into the game the Flamengo winger is chopped down by his opposition
    player and he is in agony (shin pads offer minimal protection). He gets up after five
    minutes, but fades from the game and is replaced after half time.

    Vasco are playing very well, and their small band of supporters are very vocal in the
    face of huge opposition. About four yellow cards are issued, and the game is getting
    spiteful. The game up to half time is back and forward, but Flamengo are not playing well,
    Vasco looked like scoring about three times, but the Flamengo goalie is very courageous.
    The score at half time is 0-0 (when I am going to see a goal scored). Marta says the
    referee is dreadful (she can be so one eyed at times), and suggest that the referee has
    probably taken a bribe.

    No formal half-time entertainment, no little league, no cheer squads in leotards, no
    Dallas cowgirls. The half time entertainment involves trying to pelt the police with
    firecracker’s, flares, smoke bombs, etc. Most of this occurring about 40 meters away, with
    the major protagonists in the stand above our head in the next tier. The police (mostly
    black, big and huge Colgate smiles) involved just treat it as a game, laughing, and
    dodging crackers, and even at one stage hurling a burning flare back into the crowd.

    All except the Police Sargent who is on the edge of the ground, watching what is
    happening and talking into a walkie-talkie. He is pointing up into the crowd, and
    obviously organizing a pincer movement. I cannot see what is happening above me, but the
    firecracker/flare throwing stops about 3 minutes later and there is a lot of booing coming
    from above my head. It is never dull.

    I ask Marta why there are Telerj public telephone booths installed on the playing
    surface of the ground, in the corners of the field. She explains to me that when a player
    scores a goal, he is allowed to go to the telephone booth and call toll-free his mother or
    girlfriend and tell her how is feeling and share the emotion of the moment with them.
    "Hey Mum, I just kicked a goal for Flamengo, I may be late home tonight, so don’t
    wait up."

    After half time, the game drops in quality. Flamengo have no passion tonight, they are
    not playing as a team. Too many solo acts, bad passes, loose in defense, and not seizing
    opportunities. Marta is just ropeable at the referee, she thinks he must be on the take.
    More yellow cards. Even Vasco have gone off the ball. But not the crowd. They are trying
    to lift Flamengo, and are really in full swing. Chanting, the drums, more drums, it is so
    tribal, primitive, the singing, I love it. But the score remains 0-0.

    Near the end, Marta thinks we should leave 5 minutes before so as to miss the crowd,
    and get a seat on the bus. We leave; head outside, and the crowd and skyrockets start
    signaling the end of the game. I will have to come back some other time to see my first
    soccer goal live. Bus home uneventful, just lots of noise in the streets, and all the bars
    are full of soccer addicts watching the replay.

    Not much sleep this night, the Flamengo supporters are out in droves honking horns,
    making a racket and just letting off lots of steam. More firecrackers.

    Next morning the papers report the results, official crowd 86,000.

    Carioca
    Humor

    A Gaúcho (a Brazilian cowboy from Rio Grande do Sul where there are many large
    cattle ranches), a Paulista (São Paulo resident), a Mineiro (a local of the
    state Minas Gerais in the middle of Brazil), and a Carioca are in a boteco
    (bar) talking about what would happen if a fight were to happen between them. The Gaúcho
    said if a fight broke out then the Gaúcho would win the fight, the Paulista
    would get the shit punched out of him, and the Mineiro would try to stop the fight.
    What happened to the Carioca? Oh, he would have run away long before.

    Vanessa

    Sometimes Vanessa’s aunt and sister come to the streets where we live to ask for food
    and some coins. They are stunningly beautiful dark skinned ladies, aged about 28-30, seven
    kids under the age of 10, smiling whenever I see them, and have a great deal of love for
    her children. They are always making kangaroo jokes about me, and we try to give them some
    food at least once a week. But it is sad, it is hard, really hard life for them, and
    emotionally you feel so inadequate in your ability to help them beyond food and clothing.

    A Sales Call
    Report

    The following is an extract from a sales call I made on the Grande Hotel Água de São
    Pedro, a school for restaurants and hotel management, about 2 Brazilian hours from São
    Paulo. This is an absolutely magnificent hotel; an old casino built in the 1940s by a
    philanthropic Italian. Refurbished to the highest standards, it is run by SENAC (a
    government owned teaching academy) and is the finest art deco hotel I have ever seen.

    "…. Wilson (a fellow Paulista sales representative) and I head up to
    Água de São Pedro to visit Pedro da Silva. It’s about a 2 Brazilian hours (as a rule of
    thumb, when estimating driving times, you should multiply Brazilian estimates by 1.5 to
    arrive at standard units of measure for time) from São Paulo. Nice drive, good roads, and
    Willie is a good driver, no maniac. We have a bet on the way about how much wine we will
    sell, he says zero, and I say 2-3 cases. He thinks this is going to be another freebie
    tasting. I am prepared for the worst.

    We arrive at the Grande Hotel Água de São Pedro, and this is just another one of
    those jewels that are all around Brazil. Água de São Pedro is in a small town
    (population 2500), and the hotel is the showcase of the town. This is a Paulista
    weekend retreat, lots of horse riding, gardens, fazendas, good pousadas,
    etc. Highly recommended. Pedro comes out to meet us, we feel very welcome. The hotel has
    been fully refurbished to its original art deco décor, very authentic, just the most
    tasteful, big gardens, a swimming pool that would not look out of place in a Scott
    Fitzgerald novel, tennis, health spa, gymnasium, massage, the full health farm. And of
    course the famous mineral waters for drinking and bathing.

    SENAC has about 600-800 students enrolled at the Hotel. Cost $600 per month, without
    accommodation. The hotel has 175 rooms; built in the 1940s as a casino, the hotel went
    belly up and was rescued by SENAC in 1969. Due to Brazilian laws prohibiting gambling, is
    it no longer a casino.

    He gives us the full guided tour of the hotel including the cellar. Now the shit hits
    the fan. The cellar has about 15-20 dozen bottles of wine and champagne, and the inventory
    slips on each wine box show most of the recent sales took place in November 1995 when they
    had a convention here. OK, how to get something out of this? I have nothing to lose for
    the next 24 hours, this trip has cost Mitsui and John a lot, and this guy can do very
    little for us, but maybe, just maybe if I have some luck.

    We check into our rooms, and I go and check the room for the presentation and tasting.
    Pedro has done his homework, the room is set up perfectly and he has A-grade equipment to
    work with, first class slide and overhead projector. The room will hold 50 comfortably.

    About 5:00 PM the students arrive, and arrive, and arrive, and arrive. By 5:15 it is
    packed, and still more arrive, so about 80 in the room. I am impressed. Most would be
    young (late teens, early 20s), 80% female, about 50% speak English. I thank Pedro for
    allowing us the time, to talk to his students, etc. It is clearly evident the students
    respect him a great deal, and I like him a lot as well. I explain to the class my problem
    (I have traveled 3 hours, talk for free, pass on my knowledge, etc. cost to Mitsui
    $R3-400, me the same, and expect no sales of wine, how can I get some reward for this.
    They are curious?).

    I ask the students how long they have been at school (average 6 months, some 12), and
    how many wine salesmen (or beer for that matter) they have seen. Surely the local Brahma
    beer sales representative has been to see them? He must sell a couple thousand dollars per
    month to the Hotel. What about the Antarctica beer Sales representative? Have they seen
    anyone from Moet Chandon? What about the local Liebfraumilch (one of the most popular
    wines in Brazil) salesperson, surely he/she must have been to see them, after all there is
    5 dozen bottles of Liebfraumilch in the cellar, I have none.

    ZIPPO. Pennies begin to drop. Have they had a wine tasting before? NO. Have they ever
    received any free samples? NO. OK, I get the picture and they do as well, they are very
    bright students and so is Pedro.

    So it’s back to grass roots. I ask them, "Why people should drink wine?" I
    get one answer, "It is pleasurable." Yes it is if you drink good quality wine,
    it is not so pleasurable if you drink bad quality wine. So I go over the important reasons
    for drinking wine with them (you know the British Medical Journal stuff, helps sell more
    food in restaurants, good for economy, cultural aspects, beverage growth rates in Brazil,
    etc.). A few lights are going on, even with Pedro, and I have their attention (don’t you
    just hate it when the students throw paper airplanes). Now they understand why wine is
    important. You can see this is an education job, when the school does not even teach this.

    Next I ask them what they expect of a wine and beverage sales
    representative? No one knows. One girl says to sell wine and beverages to a restaurants
    and hotels. I said that is the sales representative’s job, but not what you should
    expect of the sales representative; or else you will get what you asked for. I ask
    them to think about this, and suggest that any sales person who visits a restaurant or
    Hotel should be thinking about how to improve the restaurant or hotel, using their
    products and services, not merely sell wine.

    So I do my "Dog and Pony" show. This time the presentation goes over really
    well, I am starting to really get a good angle on the material, lots of humor, but also
    the right messages about quality, product, etc. A very warm applause. The tasting is done
    in a frenzy and is over within an hour. But not before Pedro commits to buy some OZ wine.
    Wilson owes me lunch.

    Pedro was great after the meeting, we had a lot of laughs. A young Brazilian comes up
    to us at the end; he is trainee chef at the hotel and asks us to come to his bar
    afterwards. He wants to distribute OZ wine in a radius of 100 km. We have a lovely meal
    and then go to the bar downtown, have a few drinks and meet half the students that were in
    the class. We have a good sing, drink, do some bar tricks, and clown around.

    I hope one day I can come back here to teach another class, and not have to worry about
    making money. It was a lot of fun, but 3 cases of wine for 24 hours work is not going to
    keep me fed and clothed.

    We return to São Paulo early Thursday morning. Arrive 10:30 AM. Threat of national
    strike, so Wilson thinks I should go back to Rio de Janeiro before the city closes down
    tomorrow.

    End of trip report.

    John Miller is an Australian, living in Rio de Janeiro, selling
    Australian wine. ‘Postcards from Rio’ is a journal of his journey in the land of the Cariocas.

    For contact:

    John and Marta Miller
    Rua Joaquim Nabuco, 106 / Apt 1001
    Copacabana CEP 22080-030
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    Tel: +55 (021) 521 8568
    E-mail: millerj@gbl.com.br
     

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