Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From the Journal Entry for October 10, 1999: Doing Business

Back in Brasilia. The weather was apparently very warm while I was away – up over 100 a couple of days – but has been okay since I got back, though a little warm during the heat of the day. The nights are still cool enough to sleep with just a fan and a dip in the pool – still a bit chilly – gets the old body temperature down nicely. But the rains have come and spring is springing. Everything is green again and the insects greet the rising and setting of the sun with a vigorous symphony that sounds like a huge collection of tiny buzz saws. Not unpleasurable, but loud enough to have waked me at 6:37 am (which must be sunrise today).

Had a busy week back. Getting through papers and issues that had collected while I was back in Washington. I had receptions and dinners every single night except Friday. On Wednesday, I hosted a large reception for the Russell 2020 group (they paid). This is a group of U.S. pension managers who together manage $2 trillion. Trillion. When they arrived at the ambassador’s residence for the reception, I was treated to shaking about 50 hands at once. They marched up with their name tags hanging from their necks with their first names boldly emblazoned on them. I had two “Charlie’s” in a row. The group is heavy enough into Brazil to have been somewhat dismayed at the decline of the local stock market over the last year. But being pension managers, they take the “long view” and have to put their money somewhere. I told Mr. Russell that I was a bit more conservative than that and would never put money into Brazil since I might not live long enough for the “long view” and didn’t have the nerves for the “overnight.”

At lunch the next day, the group was running a bit late. We had our fish, rice and veggie course, but not dessert or coffee. But they had to leave in five minutes, and so did I. Two minutes left and the waiters start bringing out new plates. I figured, ah, dessert. Turns out it was a next course of steak and potatoes. I thought we must be getting someone else’s lunch. Anyway, up we all jump and dash out to the total bewilderment of the Brazilian guests. God, I love Americans.

Had a nice dinner at the Bolivian ambassador’s on Thursday. Met the Israeli ambassador, who had to be physically separated from his wife by at least several feet to be able to get a word in edgewise. The week ended on Friday with my attending a graduation at the Federal Police Academy for a course given by the FBI. Actually, it didn’t end there since the deputy chief told me the police would be happy to take 15 Huey helicopters recently returned to us by the Mexicans. We then had to arrange a quick meeting to “talk turkey” and ready our request for Washington before the local four-day holiday set in. Speaking of which, I went to see Notting Hill with our USAID director last night. A funny movie and surprisingly good. Today, it’s another soccer game and tomorrow, me and a group of around 40 (!) from the embassy will swarm out to an otherwise lovely waterfall [see below].


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