East Coast Highway CE-040 – Ceará – Brazil
Photo Credit: blogdotamandua.com.br
Sometimes in life, events occur that force us to push beyond our limits. When I got the highly coveted position as Administrative Supervisor of foreign payment receipts and Foreign Exchange Contracts for exports (Contratos de Câmbio de exportação) in the Export Department at Italbras Leather Producer & Exporter S.A. (fictitious name), my first challenge was the distance I had to travel to and from the company’s Head Office and tannery in Cascavel, Ceará.
I do not drive. Making the 38-mile trip to Cascavel—along Ceará’s principal federal Highway BR-116 via a metropolitan bus line—for the job interview was a hurdle I had to overcome. Since the company provided private transport for its staff in Fortaleza and its environs, I did not have the day-to-day hassle of using public transport.
According to the pick-up schedule prepared by the company’s Personnel Manager, I was the first on the schedule, starting at 5:00 a.m. In order to get out of bed by 4:30 a.m., I had to set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. I’m a slow riser. This meant that I could no longer cook lunch for my sons before leaving for work, as was my practice over the years. I began cooking in the evenings when I got home. That was usually around seven. First to be picked up; last to be dropped off.
During the first few months, I stayed awake during the journey, soaking in the scenery in the quiet early mornings. Our bus, equipped with reclining seats and a restroom in the rear—later, we got a small TV mounted behind the driver’s seat—took Highway CE-040 connecting Ceará’s beaches east of Fortaleza. Within a month, the novelty of travelling across unfamiliar territory soon faded.
Owing to the round trip to pick up other staff members, our trip to Italbras took two hours. After a while, I was able to return to a deep sleep. I recall my embarrassment the time I overslept while everyone disembarked without waking me. The guys never let me forget that incident. Our return trips on Friday afternoons, at the end of our work week, were good times spent together.
Our workdays began at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays and at 4:00 p.m. on Fridays, with an hour for lunch. A trained culinary staff prepared and served breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all workers in the company’s dining hall.
After a couple of months of my new waking and cooking schedule, my sixteen- and eighteen-year-old sons offered to take care of the cooking. No prompting from me. Without their support, I could not have taken on the greatest challenge of my professional life in Brazil.