On the plane home overnight. Will be back in the house at about 6pm on Saturday. My wife complaining that every other weekend I lose a day to travel and half a day to papers. I say it's part of the deal. The local teams at post also have that moment of sheer delight as the wheels retract into the undercarriage and the visitor really is gone. 'Wheels up syndrome' I think.
In fact I have been reading papers on the plane for Monday. The FCO Board is spending the day looking at all our programmes. Plus the UKTI executive team is meeting to look at our next strategy, adapting our goals for a new economic environment. So it is no rest for the wicked.
However, my mind is still really on Latin America. I met an Argentinian billionaire today, hoping to persuade him that a UK supplier can help him make more billions. I did yet another media interview with La Nacion. I really value them because we have a lot of work to do to undo some of the negative perceptions generated by our own national media about the UK.
I had a session with the Buenos Aires team, as I had with the Chilean and Peruvian teams. I come away with a notebook of suggestions and a better feel for how Kingsgate House (UKTI HQ) looks and feels to our Posts.
I had a moving half hour talking to an old scientific collaborator of my father's. Later I phoned the daughter of an old colleague of his. Together they founded an institute in Buenos Aires. The daughter and I played together as children. We chatted, fifty years later, as grandparents! Time passes. It made me believe even more in the Latin saying 'carpe diem' or 'seize the day'. We only have one life, it passes swiftly, so do something with it.
So was the week worth the long hours, the huge efforts put in by Posts, the time away from the team in Kingsgate House? Emphatically, yes. I do some business. I do some bilateral good. But most of all, I learn what is happening at the sharp end. It brings me back to what we are all about. Helping our clients prosper in the global marketplace.
I also deepened my understanding of Latin America. It is a very varied continent with wildly differing political contexts. But here is one generalisation. British companies are less aware and more wary of Latin America than any other continent. We have, first and foremost, a marketing job at UKTI. In the nineteenth century Britain was the lead commercial partner and British fortunes were made. The evidence is in the infrastructure, the British names and faces and stories.
I am going to get some sleep now. But I would love to hear your views on all of this. One of the oddities of blogging is the fear that no one is reading and no one is responding; mixed with the belief that people will be interested. Let me know.