Friday, June 20, 2014


     I am traveling, alone, on holiday, in Brazil.  I am doing my best to avoid the World Cup, just driving, hiking, and taking in scenery, as well as these friendly, delightful people.

     From the beginnings of preparations this is being the most challenging, arduous trip I have ever taken.  Few people have any english and no one is fluent.  The street signs and road signs and other navigational aids, well they leave a lot to the imagination.  The cars go very fast, the trucks go very slowly, the motorcycles go between cars at twice their speed.  there is more but bottom line is I am having fun.

     There is a lesson here, something I have learned along the way.  A lesson for everyday americans.  Our culture, as promulgated by the powers that be, is steadily and increasingly numbing our minds, our imaginations.  we have been implicitly taught, incessantly, that easy is good.  I personally cannot speak for anyone else but easy makes me bored to tears.  I enjoy challenges, enjoy successes.  Whatever.  Not what I want to get into today.

     I just want to inform or remind everyone a bit of what it is like to be an immigrant or foreigner in our country (or any other!)  It is hard work!  Speaking a second language, no matter how familiar, requires more concentration and alertness.  Coping with all of the little day-to-day and moment-to-moment little choices and decisions that one has to make, in a foreign environment, requires  extra alertness and attention.  There are dnagers, small and large, in relying and trusting upon ones reflexes.  Many little decisions require concentration.  In Ethiopia, when you open a bottle of soda to drink, you keep the bottle cap and between sips you rest the cap on the opening, to keep out bugs and dust.  It is customary and wise and expected.  Its a little thing.  But there are just thousands of little things like this that different people do differently in different places.  If you spend enough time getting familiar with them you will gradually learn the original sources or reasons for every behavior.  Some mores are just artifacts, the motivation behind them is long expired but the behavior persists.  But some are significant.

     I am tired at the end of the day.  Exhausted.  I am not frightened or angry, its a good feeling but its tiring.  Nothing is easy.  I just want to point out that for foreigners traveling, visiting, or trying to live in the USA that they are working very hard, concentrating, and doing the best they can to learn and to fit in.  Respect is in order, where often annoyance is given.

No comments: