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    « Blog For Rent! | Main | The CPF in Brazil »

    July 27, 2008

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    Corinne

    Unfortunately there is a common misperception that gringos have money to burn and I have run into that a few times (in Rio and Minas and also a lot in Costa Rica). Plus, the cariocas that you probably deal with are very image conscious and might recommend the most expensive "chic" places to show their own social status. I had a bit of the opposite experience, since I lived for 17 months in Rocinha doing fieldwork. I felt guilty having more money and was approached a lot for loans. Also I finally figured out that people in the favela just assumed that I would find simple cheap things and places unappealing, because they had a stereotype about what a gringo likes. In fact, I can´t count how many times the people living in the favela were shocked that I (an educated American) would dain to live among them and experience the simple life. Of course my middle class Brazilian friends all thought I was nuts and would not ever visit me in the favela.

    I must say that being treated like I had money to burn happened more with middle and upper class Brazilians than with the poor.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you that it is frustrating, but as you point out, it doesn´t refer to everyone (than goodness).

    DRL

    Wow, your experiences are so interesting!

    Lori

    We deal with the 'you are a rich (US) American' attitude a lot. I've decided that this is because of a lot of the exposure they have regarding the US. It is all movies and tv shows like Friends. They seem to think everyone buys $500 designer shoes and purses.

    That couldn't be further than the truth for me. I am a major bargain girl and not into designer fashion at all. Plus, the cost of living in Maringa is almost the same as our home in the US and we are now only earning 1 salary!

    We get sucked into the bringing things back too - baby things, electronics, etc. We tried to be helpful when we first moved down, but now the asking is out of control. My answer is usually always no unless it is something very small that will add no weight to my suitcase. I feel like it is inconsiderate for Brazilians to think that it is easy for me to carry 2 laptops and 20 extra pounds in my luggage when I travel back and forth by myself. The truth is, we live here now too and there are things we need to bring down for ourselves. Selfish or not, that is how I've started to feel about the situation.

    Corinne

    Lori I hear you about not bring back stuff from the US. I have been burned a few times (the requestor never picked up the goods) and I never seem to come out ahead on the exchange rate. I now reserve such favors for family and VERY close friends, and never a lot of stuff. I also ask people to bring stuff down, but only if they have room (I try to only ask for largish items for very close friends) and always order the item on-line to be delivered to the US person (having run all over trying to get an item for someone, I know what a pain it is). I don´t think you should feel guilty - there is now very litte you cannot get in Brazil, it is just more expensive to buy it here.

    Lisa the Canarioca

    I second everyones emotions in the above comments. I, too have been seen as the 'rich gringa'(couldn't be anywhere farthur from the truth) and that I have money to burn. After two attempts at starting a business with Brazilian business partners, I just gave up. OUr work ethics are as different as night and day. Does it leave a sour taste in my mouth? yes, but on the other hand I have met and dealt with wonderful people here, usually those with the least income.
    I hate bringing back things for friends, my time is short back home and I want to visit family and friends and not be schlepping around to Costco and Best Buy. On the other hand, I love to bring back kitchen gadgets from Home Outfitters for my maid/saint. I could go on and on about how wonderful she is, but here in Brazil one must not 'brag' about the in home help as people are so 'wood faced'(cara de pau) that they are capable of stealing your help from under your nose.
    I, too, read Eat Pray Love and I was bemused at the bit you commented on, it felt just like Brazil somehow.
    Brazil really has alot going for it, but I can't see it progressing in the international scene as long as there is rampant corruption...

    Emily

    This all sounds familiar! I agree with the "gringos have money" stereotype. After we'd been dating for over a year, my boyfriend was quite surprised to learn that I was funding my trip to see him with money that I'd saved - my dad wasn't just throwing money at me! It's also different for tourists vs. expats. Something that for a tourist is a normal, US-priced meal, for example, is just as much of a splurge for me and my Chilean salary as for any other Chilean.

    We just got back from a trip to the US, and I got a little annoyed with the requests to bring things back. Some people asked us beforehand and either paid via credit card and shipped the stuff to my house there or gave us money before we left, which was fine. But a couple people pulled the "oh, can you just get me something, and I'll pay you back" number, and I wasn't having any of it. They don't seem to realize 1. that I'm not in the business of lending money and 2. my suitcase is heavy enough, your items take up valuable space and weight!

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