The curious incident of the generator in the supermarket.

Following my ‘stint’ in India, the same company asked me to carry out some ‘repatriation’ work in Brazil.

My first flight took me from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to São Paulo in Brazil. Next day it was an internal flight to Uberlândia.

On arriving at Uberlândia airport I headed straight to car rentals, my final destination was a further 150 kilometres away so I needed ‘wheels’.

I don’t speak a word of Portuguese and the ladies at car rentals didn’t speak a word of English. Thankfully the Hertz lady had the patience and determination to help me fill out all the required documentation.

At this point I still had no clear idea how to reach my contact, neither could I get hold of him. The Hertz lady came to my rescue again. Armed with her information, and a Brazil ‘sat nav’ app that I had downloaded onto my iPhone, I set off. The App proved to be useless and in the end I had to resort to asking for directions along the way.

Thankfully my contact was on site when I arrived some 2-hours later. Following an initial chat I was given a whistle stop tour of the farm. It was then time to collect the equipment and head back to Uberlândia to find a DHL agent. The machine that I was collecting wasn’t heavy but it was large and difficult to handle and I just about managed to squeeze it into the back of the tiny hire car.

The DHL agent was located inside a Carrefour supermarket. Once I had found a parking space I swiftly man-handled the equipment out of the boot and balanced it on top of a supermarket trolley. It was around 8pm at this point and the agent was due to close at 9pm. I soon found their office. My next problem was packaging! On clocking the size of the intended shipment, the DHL agent, who spoke a little English, suggested that I should gather some used cardboard boxes from the supermarket. The supermarket had plenty of cardboard boxes, but none big enough to house the equipment!

The next half hour was spent wrapping cardboard boxes around the equipment in an attempt to provide as much protection as possible. The sight of me, kneeling in the middle of the supermarket, with heaps of cardboard strewn around me must have looked very odd. I had broken into a sweat at this point and had little interest in the large group of onlookers who had gathered round to watch the unusual spectacle.

I was eventually happy with the packaging and headed back to the DHL agent. His first task was to measure and weigh the now tightly bundled parcel. Unfortunately, the scales in the office weren’t big enough to handle the weight of the package. The agent swiftly bundled it back onto a shopping trolley and took the package to a nearby hardware store where the owner let us use one of his ‘industrial’ size scales to complete the operation. We then returned to the office and filled in all the relevant paperwork.

By 10 past 9 the job was complete. I thanked the agent profusely and headed off to my hotel to enjoy a well earned beer.

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About Richard Griffith

My first independent travel experience was a trip to Israel, in 1997, it was here that I caught the 'travel' bug! In 2001 I took an 8-month sabbatical and traveled around South East Asia. Since then I have managed to visit most of Eastern Europe along with India, Bangladesh, and a few other destinations in between. I love travel and I love meeting new people.
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