LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||25/FEV/2006 6:59 PM|
I don't recall being in Macaé.
It's very rare to find native speakers of English here in the Serra Gaúcha. At the February meeting of the English Club I was surprised to meet a man who had been born in Iowa but had lived in the Seattle area for many years. He and his wife own a pousada outside Gramado. A few days earlier in Nova Petrópolis I met two American residents. Twice I've met American tourists.
You write, "We think that the Americans who come to live here are not so open as we are." Americans tend to value privacy much more than Brazilians. What may be considered a simple question in Brazil can be insulting in the US. Different country and culture, different rules of conduct. I've lived in the Los Angeles area and I've lived in small towns and the country. My experience is that it's harder to make friends in American cities than it is in small towns or the country. I think I wrote about this on February 10th. If I went to Charlotte, I'd probably experience much the same thing as your friend.
I've heard many times that the people here in the South of Brazil are "fechados" (reserved, private, conservative). The only true friends I have here are not in Gramado but in Porto Alegre. I've had some bad experiences here. Perhaps I would have had them with Americans in an American city. I don't know. But I do know that I've never had such experiences in the US. Amigos da onça and jararacas? Yes, we have them in the US. In Brazil I think they have become an art form. It was here that I really learned the meaning of those two terms. Often I've felt like the solution to someone's problem, not their friend.
This afternoon I was talking with a Brazilian about how people rarely return my greetings or waves. Where I lived in California, we always said hello to people on the street, and we always acknowledged courtesy in traffic with a wave or a smile. This is extremely rare here. I've been told over and over again never to give anyone a ride in my car. I'm sorry, but I'm about 1.3 km from the nearest main street. If I find someone walking to or from town, I offer them a ride. Last month I found a policeman in Várzea Grande who was waiting for a bus to take him to Taquara. He was very pleased to accept a ride to Taquara. I am probably the only American he has ever met. We talked about his family, his home town, etc. It was very pleasant. I gave a ride to a neighbor yesterday. (I say "neighbor", but he's just a guy I see from time to time in the bairro.) I was giving my faxineira a ride home, so he had to sit in the backseat of the car. I apologized for the mess. He said something like, "Mas não é bagunça, tchê! Ter chapeus e jaquetas no carro é apenas tradionalismo!"
My biggest cultural shock here has been in traffic. I've been by land from Canada to Panama. I know something about driving in other countries. In fact, once I drove a truck from Los Angeles to Masaya, Nicaragua. But in Brazil... Wow! In general terms, I've had lots of problems with people making promises that they never intended to keep. I could write a book about Brasiltelecom and how I was repeatedly lied to. The BURROcracia is incredible. Slowly I've learned to expect little and be happy with whatever happens. Even in traffic I'm becoming more tolerant of people who are seemingly dedicated to killing me. I think it was in Antonino that a guy told me, "Apenas Deus tem mais paciência que um brasileiro." OK. I can be patient.
You have my e-mail address. Don't be shy about writing to me directly. I won't bite. I promise. rsrsrsrs
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