So here we are after the long journey. I was the last member of the team to get in Porto Alegre around midnight yesterday.
A couple of anecdotes from my trip. First, I got assigned seat 27C for my flight from Sao Paolo to Porto Alegre. When my flight is announced, I happily get into the aircraft, walking down the aisle to my seat… 14, 15, 16, and I am way passed the “middle of the plane”. Sure enough, I get to the rear of the aircraft to “discover” that 24 is the last row. There are other passengers a bit agitated by the situation, and I am told that they had to replace the aircraft and this one is “smaller”… Judging by the amount of people getting on board, the flight will be packed. I ask someone, “Will we make it to POA?”, and the answer is “Maybe!”. So rule #1 in Brazil: you have to learn to “flow”. No worries, I was asked to seat in 23E, and pray that no one will come to ask me to get up. Well, to make a long story short, I did make it safely to Porto Alegre. Anecdote #2: upon arrival to POA, I start looking for the transfer service that would take me to the hotel. After a couple of minutes I find the hostess, and she explains to me that the driver is stuck in the city and he will arrive in a few minutes. The few minutes turned into one hour, and I never got to understand the root cause of the delay: (1) apparently there were some roads blocked in the city earlier in the day, due to demonstration because of the high fees of public transportation; or (2) they had some serious rain that caused major flooding in the city.
After a short night, I started my day in the gym, where several of my colleagues were exercising… but I was still incognito. I started meeting the rest of the team over breakfast, and we got off to a prep meeting (among the team) before heading to the IBM offices.
We were blessed with great weather and great visibility. This is the view from the IBM facility:
We started with a few talks explaining the IBM Services Corp program in general, and the Smarter Cities Challenge one in particular.
We left for a short (2-hour) lunch around the corner
and went back for a guided tour around the GTS facilities by Alexander Dietrich, manager of the GTS team in Porto Alegre. Again, we were impressed by the view of the Rio Guaiba, were several rivers meet:
Finally, we discussed over some “pao de queijo” what we believe will be the major challenge in our project: “managing expectations”.
We then got crammed, four by four, in the local taxis, which don’t leave too much space for the passengers in the back seat:
Back to the hotel, getting ready for our first formal dinner, a BBQ hosted by Jose Cesar Martins in his house, where we will meet the Mayor of Porto Alegre, Mr. Jose Fortunati and several influential people of the city. More in the next blog.