Buggy Ride across Sand Dunes in Ceará, Brazil
My first meeting with an overseas client took place on a Sunday at the beach front of Tabuba, 13.7 miles from Fortaleza, capital of Ceará. With an extensive beach and high sand dunes, Praia de Tabuba is great for buggy rides.
Doutor Antônio, the owner and president of the melon exporting company where I worked, provided company transport to take me and my two sons to his private beach condo at Tabuba. The hot, outdoor churrasco (barbecue) called for light, casual clothing with swimwear for a dip in the condominium’s swimming pool or a wade in the ocean.
Arriving at the condo, we were escorted to the outdoor patio on the ground floor. While Doutor Antônio introduced me to our visiting British client, CEO of a major food chain, seated at a table with the company’s three directors, his wife Dona Rosa took my sons to join the other children under the care of their two teenage daughters.
When Dona Rosa introduced me to the wives of our British client and company directors, one of them expressed relief at my arrival. “How do I tell her that I adored the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace?” she told me.
Seated in a prime position between Dona Rosa and our honored guest, I soon realized that my role at the churrasco was that of English/Portuguese interpreter. There was nothing complex about the conversation among the women: small talk about Brazil, England, and family life. But being a first-time interpreter required great concentration on my part, reminding me that the beautiful sunny day by the beach was in fact another working day.
Over bottles of cold beer and servings of barbecue meat, chicken, fish, and French fries sprinkled with grated cheese, the men appeared to be communicating well with their limited English-speaking skills. At the women’s table, those who did not drink beer, like yours truly, could choose from fresh fruit drinks and coconut water.
But the day was not all work. In the early afternoon, we all went for buggy rides along the beach and across the sand dunes. What a thrill! More so for my sons who also had a great time playing with the other children.
My first contact with an overseas client was a lesson in small talk and the first of numerous future experiences as an interpreter. If you plan to do business with Brazil, I strongly recommend that you brush up on your skills in small talk. Be prepared to answer questions about your country and to share personal tidbits about yourself and your family.
Through such informal business events, Brazilians develop trust with their (potential) clients for a long-lasting business relationship. The visiting British couple spent that weekend at Doutor Antônio’s condo in Tabuba. Brazilian hospitality at its best.
On Monday morning, I accompanied our president, commercial director, and British client on the two-hour drive to the company’s melon farm, over 125 miles from Fortaleza.