Day 61: São José dos Campos
'The carpet issues are resolved,' says someone, and there is much satisfied nodding, 'and the seat plan has been discussed.' More nodding. Then something rather wonderful happens. The Dutch sales manager and his deputy disappear into an office and a few minutes later reappear wearing clogs, long striped aprons and bonnets. We follow them down to the hangar and pick our way between various other aircraft awaiting delivery until we find ourselves standing in front of an aircraft parts trolley that has been converted into a Dutch fish-cart. A striped awning has been attached, some pictures of Holland pasted on the front and plates of snacks have been laid out. The KLM team call me forward, present me with a pair of clogs and explain that this is Dutch Culture Lesson Number 20 (this being the twentieth aircraft they have ordered from Embraer) and that we are to be treated to a Dutch delicacy. It's oak-smoked eel, a speciality of Ijsselmeer in the north of the country. It's served on toast and its name is paling. Much laughter and I find myself in the bewildering position of being photographed with senior Dutch sales executives dressed as fish ladies and the Brazilian delivery team kicking their legs out whilst behind us forty-five million dollars' worth of aircraft awaits its most important test flight.
I ask Thais if this is normal behaviour at the handover of a new aircraft and, crunching on a bit of paling on toast, she confirms that the Dutch are particularly good at laying on something special, and the Brazilians, always keen on a party, encourage this side of the relationship.
'We become families, we become friends,' she says. And I think she really means it as she looks out to where the sleek, fresh-painted 195 waits to be taken to its new home. 'We represent Embraer, we represent Brazil...we're proud to do something that beautiful.'
Choose another day from Brazil
- Series: Brazil
- Chapter: Day 61: São José dos Campos
- Country/sea: Brazil
- Place: São José dos Campos
- Book page no: 254
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