I came to Rio for six weeks as part of a volunteer programme to mentor young entrepreneurs, but as I get ready to leave, I am very aware of just how much I have learned during my stay here. It’s fair to say that when I arrived I was more than a little wound-up (as my lovely, straight-talking teammate pointed out to me, as only a South African with Dutch, German and Greek influences can). I hadn’t thought it was that obvious but it was time to relax and go with the flow.
It’s my final week in Rio as a Social Impact Consultant with _SocialStarters and time to wrap things up with my client, Horta Inteligente. Over the past six weeks we have worked together on a number of things – defining the product offerings, pricing, market research, website, business presentation – and this week we need to get everything finished, or at least into a state where I can be sure that Elisa can complete any outstanding elements when I’m gone.
It’s Monday and the grey, damp weather has returned to Rio. The workshop that I was supposed to present tonight to our group of budding social entrepreneurs has been cancelled due to lack of sign-ups. I had planned an afternoon of preparation but as this is no longer necessary I find myself wondering how to fill the day. I’ve decided that I’m not very good at doing nothing, especially on a week day. It’s my northern work ethic kicking in, plus many years of full time working Monday to Friday, which means that unless I’m officially on holiday, I need to be sat at my desk working on some deliverable, preferably up against a deadline, in order to feel ‘right’. I suppose, being honest, if it was a gorgeous sunny day I’d be content on the beach with my book and a cold coconut juice. But that’s not an option. It’s strange. I feel guilty, but then not guilty. Worried and then fine. I think about it in detail and it makes me realise that I am going to have to find a way to deal with this if I am a) going to get through the next 4 weeks here and b) build the life of a digital nomad that I have been dreaming about for the past year.
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! Read more