Saturday, June 2, 2012

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5/31/12 On May 31st the entire family – with the exception of the cacique – loaded up in Paulo’s enormous 15-pac van and drove two hours to the city of Caruaru for a day of shopping. On the way there we picked up a couple people who needed to hitch a ride. I didn’t know until today that Paulo has a [not so secret] job as a taxi driver by day… so in turn, maybe he’s a superhero by night? :) I say this job is a “secret” because none of us (the girls) knew that he left during the day to do this – we thought he worked in the village with the cattle because every time we’ve seen him during the day that’s where he has been. We went to this huge market district in the city; to tell you the truth, it was pretty overwhelming. It was so packed – there was hardly any room on the sidewalks, in the stores, and the traffic was crazy. Lee and Marcia said they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary because they’re so used to shopping in Latin America, but to us it was a completely new experience.
I would use the word “chaotic” to describe the entire experience. Everywhere one turned, there was tons street noise and hustle and bustle. I’ve been to large cities in the United States before, but I don’t think even they would compare. The first time I was plowed into by a stranger, I was really surprised – no “excuse me,” or apology, or even the slightest recognition that they had run into me. I thought it was completely rude! But then I realized that this is totally the norm here – people run into each other all the time and apparently it isn’t a big deal; they just move on with their business. I’m trying to picture how well that would go over in Grand Forks (where I’m from), and I don’t think people would take to it very well. I’ve been wondering why things like this just aren’t a big deal here like they are back home, but I can’t really think of reasons why. I know that in the United States we’re uptight about a lot of things, but I can’t justify not using manners or common courtesy. I guess here they don’t consider it “bad manners” so to most people this isn’t a lack in common courtesy, but I flat out just don’t get it. I suppose I’ll agree to disagree and leave it as a clash in culture. -Shayla

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