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Monday, May 13, 2013 | Jaú to Lindóia - An emotional roller-coaster of a week

It's Monday evening and Waldemar and I have just enjoyed an excellent repast at a Churrascaria, a typical Brazilian grill on the outskirts of Jaú, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. Before it gets dark, we need to find somewhere safe to park the Editourmobil for the night. At first sight, a petrol station a few yards away from a busy main road doesn’t seem the ideal place to conceal the Editourmobil from potential ne’er-do-wells. However, appearances can be deceptive. The attendant there, Diego by name, wants to know all about our PETplanet tour. He then shows us a place to park in front of the petrol station and solemnly assures us that the night security guard will keep an eye on our vehicle. Super!

Next day, having enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep, we head off to Indústria Zugliani de Refrigerantes e Bebidas, a family-owned beverage company. Coincidentally, our genial petrol station attendant from last night is familiar with the company’s best known product, a soft drink that goes by the name of “Guarana 15". Director Sidney Angelo Zugliani and Administration Manager José Guilherme Zugliani go to a lot of time and trouble to answer all our questions. The rest of the day Waldemar and I are positively licking our lips in anticipation of tomorrow's visit to Rio de Janeiro, which will involve a 700km trek over hill and dale. Towards evening we reach Nova Iguacu, a suburb of Rio. The vibes aren’t good here, which makes the search for a secure parking space all the more difficult. In the end, we decide to play safe and drive back 30km to a petrol station on the outskirts of the city where we find a suitable spot to park amongst the HGVs.

On Wednesday morning we crawl through the rush hour traffic in the southern part of Rio, where we are visiting Coca Cola that afternoon. With the Sugarloaf Mountain as a splendid backdrop, Waldemar begins writing up an article on yesterday's interview. Meanwhile I set off on a journey of discovery through the district of Botafogo in search of victuals for the next few days. At Coca Cola we are welcomed by Paulo Roberto Villas, Head of Supply Chain for Packaging, and Lucas Angelo Amendola, packaging specialist. The interview is all the more interesting and enlightening because we learn so much about the company’s current and future projects. Not the least of their helpfulness is their recommendation that we park at the Barra Shopping Centre, located near the Andina factory which we will be visiting tomorrow with Coca Cola. Caught up in the early evening rush hour traffic, we inch along at walking pace, which at least gives us the opportunity to gaze wide-eyed at Copacabana and Ipanema. Eventually, we arrive at our recommended halt in the Barra district. A delicious steak, a delightful atmosphere and a good Internet connection round off our first day in Rio.

On Thursday morning Paulo Roberto Villas, André Braga, bottle blowmoulding production manager, and Ana Carolina Almeida, Industrial Supervisor are waiting to bid us welcome to Andina, Coca Cola franchisees. After an interesting tour of the plant we are granted a lengthy interview, and our visit is completed with our first panoramic photo.

Waldemar Schmitke, André Braga and Ana Carolina Almeida in front of their new Sidel stretch blow moulder at Andina in Rio de Janeiro

Before we leave, our hosts kindly help us fill the Editourmobil water tanks. Although we have spent little more than a day in Rio, we are not really all that sad on leaving. The next stage of the journey, according to the itinerary prepared by our colleagues in Heidelberg, is a mere 200 kilometres. Our thinking was that “it’s only a short stretch so after our visit we can easily nip back and spend the weekend looking round Rio.” Waldemar and I are rubbing our hands in anticipation. Ah, why is it that so often, the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley ……and agley they certainly went! We felt like screaming in sheer frustration as it turns out that after driving for an hour we discover that Lindóia, where we have our next interview, is nearly 500 kilometres away. Our colleagues in Heidelberg have made a blunder of the first order! We will draw a veil over our mood that day. It didn’t get any better either when at blue o’clock in the morning, having snaked our way over twisting mountain roads, sustained only by a couple of energy drinks (they didn’t work either!), we arrive at some benighted parking space miles away from anywhere, absolutely knackered, thoroughly cheesed off, and dog-tired. Thanks a million, Heidelberg!

After a chilly night we get up on Friday morning to learn that the valve on the fresh water tank has come open, unnoticed by us. We are literally high and dry. Fortunately, on the way to Lindóia we come across a shopping centre and although it is not quite open, we manage to find a coffee shop. We sit outside in the bright sunshine enjoying a healthy dose of caffeine plus croissants and pastries. There’s even internet access. Our joy is unconfined. A handily located garden centre enables us to fill the water tank, and, in (relatively) cheerful mood we head off to Genuina Lindoya. In an interview with Julio Almeida, the administrative director, and Andre Arlotti Giao, head of marketing, we get a fascinating amount of information about the health-oriented drinks company. Our annoyance at missing out on a weekend in Rio is gradually subsiding, helped by a recommendation from Mr Almeida to try a local country ranch, set up for tourism. And thus we spend the weekend relaxing amongst the ostriches, enjoying drinks by the swimming pool, and tucking in to some splendid meals. We even have just enough time to start thinking about writing up our articles on the happenings of the last week.

The week was, to say the least, full of ups and downs. There’s no shortage of excitement on an Editourmobil tour!

Best wishes
Florian Roscheck