SQLSaturday History Has Been Made! #100 Brazil Recap
If you are part of the SQL Universe, you know that SQLSaturday #100 was held in São Paulo, Brazil, a week ago. I can hardly put into words just how epic this event was and how thrilled I am that I was able to be there to witness not just SQLSat 100, but the very first of these events to take place in Brazil.
Our journey began on Thanksgiving (Rodney luckily had enough SkyMiles to go with me and present), arriving in São Paulo Friday mid-morning. Including layovers, this trip there was a full 24 hours from when we left Orlando. We were greeted at the airport by two of the main SQLSaturday event organizers, Felipe Ferreira [blog|twitter] and Laerte Junior Poltronieri [blog|twitter].
Let me tell you, these two gentlemen are my heroes. They have been putting up with my twitter “pushing and prodding” to host a SQLSaturday since about February. When I saw their official event request come through in July, the very month I began working for PASS, it was like the icing on the cake for me! I don’t think they really believed at first that a SQLSaturday could happen in Brazil, but these guys, and an energetic, sweetheart of a volunteer, Andressa Martins [blog|twitter], totally brought it! They had a lot of support from Microsoft Brasil’s João Nunes and Viviane Ribeiro [blog|twitter], as well as expert speakers from all over this large country, several of whom are PASS user group leaders. Right away you could sense that there is a strong SQL community across Brazil, and it was wonderful to see them all supporting each other at this event!
The event had a cap of 300 attendees, which it reached within the first month of being posted. The wait list was over 200 by the day of the event, and around 250 people attended. The event team released 40 from the wait list, but hadn’t forecasted what the drop-off rate would be. They plan to make sure to release more for their next event, good lesson learned for all SQLSat organizers.
Friday evening they held the Speaker Appreciation dinner at a restaurant that was at what looked to be at the bottom level of this large shopping mall. About half of the speakers were in attendance, which is about average at these events it seems like lately. Met several SQL tweeps that I’ve been following since this event was announced, Diego Nogare [blog|twitter], Fabiano Neves Amorim [blog|twitter], PASS chapter leaders Dennes Torres De Oliveira [blog|twitter] and Rodrigo Crespi [blog|twitter] (also a huge help as a volunteer on this event), to mention just a few. (Quite honestly, I was so overwhelmed by all the hugs and cheek kisses that I cannot remember everyone who was there. Brazilians are quite affectionate people when they greet you. Something I did not know and not something that you see much of at all in the states). The food was a large display of what I believe to be tapas, much like an American buffet, ONLY, this food was AMAZING! Everything we had to eat in Brazil was by far the best food I have ever eaten. I wasn’t really hungry, as we had a very large lunch with Laerte and Felipe at Fogo De Chao. One of those all you can eat Brazilian BBQ restaurants that I’ve only always heard about but never dared to try (can you say Meat Hangover!), but there was no way I was passing up on tasting the variety of morsels at this dinner. With the limited amount of time we were in Brazil, I wanted to be sure and experience everything that I possibly could. The conversations we had were a wide range from documentaries, books, and travels. Their English is very well spoken, which was encouraging for Rodney, as he was very nervous about presenting the next day to an audience that may not catch all his jokes. (Oh wait, even folks in the states don’t typically catch onto his obscure humor). The group talked for hours, arm wrestling matches commencing, much to Rodney’s delight, and we ended up closing out the place to the point they were asking us to leave.
Most all travel was via taxi, and thanks to our hosts, they made sure to get us where we needed to be the entire weekend. Picking us up bright and early Saturday morning to head to the event venue, Microsoft’s offices which were so kindly donated as part of their sponsorship. If you don’t know this already, Sao Paulo is the 7th largest city in population. Buildings as far as you can see even from the roof tops and due to the congestion and sizes, most of the structures are growing vertically. The MS office was one of these very tall buildings. The event was held on the 31st floor, so making this not only the first SQLSaturday in Brazil, but at least for me, the highest one!
The event came staffed with Microsoft employees handling the check-in process, while the volunteers filled nice backpacks donated by sponsor Ka Solution with swag. In addition to Ka Solution and PASS, SQLSaturday Brazil sponsors included SolidQ, Mainwork (a Confio partner), RedGate, and SQLSentry. It was nice to see the continued support of these companies for a SQLSaturday outside the US.
The line of registrants quickly grew very long, snaking from the bottom floor (where they were checked through security) up to the 31st floor, and all the way down the hallway, past the elevators. The anticipation of this event and the eagerness to learn some SQL was all over their faces! Things opened up with a keynote from Microsoft and opening comments from the organizers. At this point, everything was being spoken in Portuguese, so I had no idea what was being said, other than I could tell when they mentioned that Rodney’s session would be in English (sure glad they made that clear to everyone ahead of time). They had three tracks totaling 18 sessions. Met more SQL tweeps, presenters Nilton Pinheiro [blog|twitter] , Thiago Zavaschi [blog|twitter] , presenter and PASS chapter leader, Luciano Moreira [blog|twitter], and the Brazilian SQL couple (just as adorable in person as they are on twitter), Edvaldo Castro [blog|twitter] and Socorro Vieira [twitter]. Rodney [blog|twitter] had over 30 brave souls in his session on T-SQL Alphabet Soup, and surprisingly many laughs from the audience, luckily they are very familiar with American sitcoms. They had two coffee breaks with more delicious good eats, and sub sandwich combos for lunch. (Personal lesson learned on this trip, do not attempt to drink Nespresso by the gallons, like you do coffee in the states. My head felt like a ping pong match was going on inside!). The day ended like most SQLSaturdays, sponsor raffles and end of day announcements. During my spiel on PASS, I queried the crowd on whether they wanted to see more of these events happen in Brazil, and literally before I could get the words out, they were all cheering and clapping profusely. Needless to say, there are now several conversations going on with leaders and volunteers to host several more SQLSaturdays in Brazil. It is a very large country, my guess is that it could sustain an easy 4 or 5 of these events there a year.
The after event get together was yet again some of the most amazing food ever and lots of cold beverages, again by the generosity of João Nunes. Besides all the great conversations, bonus at this venue was entertainment by a “Big Band”, full on with saxophones, trombones, and drums! The entire ensemble was over a dozen instrumentalists, in a bar! Just something you don’t see every day, at least not in an equivalent type of place in the states.
The room filled with cheers to the end of a very successful event. Throughout the day and evening, every other person was thanking us for being there and for PASS’ support in helping to bring this event to Brazil. It was wonderful to see what standardly happens at all SQLSataurdays, the connections being made and the SQL Community coming even closer together.
There are many links to blogs and pics from this event, here are just a few. You can find more on the #sqlsat100 hashtag begin tweeted up daily (by far, this event has more tweets post the event than I’ve seen on any other SQLSaturday…the buzz is still going strong there!).
- SQL Saturday #100 – Brasil – André Guerreiro Neto
- Julio Fugimoto’s Flickr photostream
- SQL Saturday #100 Aconteceu pela Primeira vez no Brasil! – Viviane Ribeiro
- SQL Saturday #100 – saiba como foi – Fabio Hara
- SQL Saturday #100: Retrospectiva – Felipe Ferreira
- Felipe Ferreira’s Facebook Album
Sunday we were able to get a little bit of site-seeing in before our flight out that evening. Laerte picked us up at the hotel which had the most amazing view of the city as it was positioned on a small hill, and looked directly across the highway where the MS office building was at. Some interesting facts that we learned on this trip:
- Like any big city, traffic is horrible there, with many accidents every day, so helicopters are being used more and more frequently for people to travel to work daily. They land right on top of the buildings. They are so frequent, we watched within a ten minute span, five helicopters land on the MS office building alone. This is not counting the few that landed on the buildings directly next to this one. One poor guy had to go down in between two of the taller buildings and land on top of a really short building between them. Definitely entertaining while we drank coffee poolside. Apparently helicopters are used so much now, that even the traffic in the airways is becoming a problem.
- Prior to going, a couple of people made reference to being careful of monkeys stealing our belongings, especially backpacks. They apparently can just take them right off your back! Well, folks, sorry to disappoint, but São Paulo is ALL city, no jungle, thus no monkeys! J
- Also prior to going, it embarrasses me to even repeat this; we received many warnings to be careful, “don’t get kidnapped”. Laerte reassured me that we would have nothing to worry about whatsoever, and he personally escorted us most of the time. On the couple of occasions that we took a taxi without him, and little did we know this until just prior to leaving, Laerte was taking pictures of the cab drivers faces and their license plates. HAHA! So…in hindsight of now knowing this, did we REALLY have nothing to worry about?? Hmmm…
Sunday afternoon we took the subway to a popular part of downtown, Paulista Avenue. Didn’t do any shopping, as that is just not my thing, but did browse through a nearby street market much like a typical festival in Pensacola would look like. We had lunch on the outside patio of a small restaurant that had quite an enormous beer selection. Even though not a pizzeria, we ordered what was for me one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. I’ll just say LOTS OF GARLIC! YUM!!!
Getting a taxi back to the airport took some doing, and thank goodness Laerte was with us to get this arranged as it was very difficult to find a cab that accepted a credit card, as we definitely did not have enough Reals left on us to pay cash (the airport was nearly an hour away, cost from Paulista was 100 reals, which is only about 55 USD, but we only had about 35 Reals left on us). The flight back was a bit more direct, only one connection which was Atlanta, so needless to say, a very full flight. But even with only one connection, the total travel time back was still about 15 hours. I took the remainder of Monday to sleep (poor Rodney had to go straight into work) and another couple of days to lose my newly adopted broken English that I had grown so fondly of. J
Brazil, we will be back and with more time to actually visit. I highly recommend a trip there to anyone with the chance to go. Do know, you will need a Visa, it is the only South American country that requires it, and apply early! We got our Visas’ the day before we flew out, and I feel certain that we only even got it then because of me calling every single day the week before we were due to leave. Talk about some serious stress that week!
Thank you to all of the Brazilian SQL Community for your kindness and making us feel so welcome! SQLSaturday #100 was a success because of all of you! Keep them coming! And an extra special thank you to Laerte for taking such good care of us. We look forward to seeing you again soon my friend!