I’m finding it quite a challenge to walk the line between being a tourist in a new city and being in Rio to work. I am no longer eating all my meals out (although it’s fair to say the majority), paying for everything with large bills and drinking Caipirinhas at every opportunity. But at the same time I can’t help but marvel at the sights of the city and still have a long list of places yet to visit. My days have more structure, with client meetings, personal development sessions and Portuguese lessons three afternoons a week, plus homework! Then there’s the morning workouts and the evening group workshops – I’m finding myself rushing through the metro station, raising my eyes at anyone who’s dawdling and blocking my way, checking my watch and beginning to feel some of the stresses that I thought I’d left behind in London. This has to stop and I need to learn from the locals on how to take a more relaxed approach to life – especially when it comes to timekeeping – although anyone who knows me will confirm that this is not going to be easy!
As I wait for my team to arrive for our second planning meeting (timekeeping can be a bit frustrating at times, especially to someone who is early for everything!), I have the opportunity to gather my thoughts on how I might be able to help Elisa move her project forward. Last Saturday I spent the day with her and her volunteers in Providencia, the favela where she lives. During the morning we collected empty plastic bottles which she uses for planting seeds at her children’s workshops and then during the afternoon I got to see her in action – leading a group of excited and noisy kids in one of her workshops, which she delivers free of charge in her community.
It was fantastic to be part of this and to get a better understanding of what she does, but that’s not why I’m here. My challenge is to work with Elisa and Guido (our fantastic team translator) on a plan for her to make enough revenue to support her work in the community by selling her workshops and expertise to paying clients as well as looking at securing extra sponsorship. When the team arrives we get down to work.
We spend an hour or so going through her product offerings, costs and pricing, and defining exactly who the existing and potential new clients are – and distinguishing the difference between these and her beneficiaries. Despite her young age, Elisa is very switched on and has all of the information at her fingertips. We discuss and clarify some things, which is made just that little bit more complicated as we have to translate back and forth between English and Portuguese, and then spend the rest of our time together looking at projects that we can prioritise and complete in the next four weeks. We decide on a plan to build a website. The great thing about Horta Inteligente (Smart Allotment) is that it is very visually appealing – gardens, children, flowers, plants – and we already have lots of great images to work with as it turns out that Guido is studying photography in his spare time and is only too happy to provide a selection of fantastic photos – as you can see from those used in this blog.
Plan sorted it’s off to my Portuguese lesson and the frustration that is learning a language where there are four different ways to pronounce ‘R’ and nothing is spoken as it would appear written down. I think it’s fair to say that Guido will never be short of work on our project as I’m three lessons in and still not able to correctly order a coffee! So much to learn and so little time!