Ever since I have moved to Brazil, I got to accept and even appreciate many things that were very different from my previous life. I learned the language, I got used to changing plans and tardiness (which actually fit quite well my own personality), I developed a skill of understanding social queues of the very high context culture (ex: I will think about it = I am not interested/ I don’t like your idea), etc. I fully embraced the fun-loving lifestyle of the cariocas (Rio’s inhabitants).
Unfortunatelly, one thing I could never get used to and I am not sure I will ever be able to is the ability to trust people. I constantly face situations in my personal and professional life when an issue is discussed with much enthusiasm and future plans are made (aka “let’s do this project!”), and then the person simply drops off. Despite people’s best intentions, I feel that it is virtually impossible for cariocas to commit to their word. They mean well, but then they just forget about it, or simply change their mind and are too conflict avoidant to ever bother letting you know. There must be, of course, rare exceptions, but I personally never met any.
Professionally, this makes things very complicated because you have to do everything yourself if you want it to be done within a certain time frame and adhere to a specific quality standard. Or, there is an option to pay someone a very high price for his or her services, just because he or she is known for being trustworthy but even then the quality is not really guaranteed.
On a personal level, it is very hard to form deep friendships. Because “deep” is correlated with the person’s mood of the day/month.
This issue of trust has been bothering me quite a bit and I have been thinking that perhaps I’ve become paranoid until I have recently met another gringo that told me exactly the same stuff. I finally felt like I am not alone.
I am not sure how can one come out of this loop as I cannot do business in Brazil dealing only with foreigners. I also don’t believe in living in a place without being immersed in the local culture (unless it’s the USA).
Would be interesting to know if people had different experiences.