The checkout lady at the grocery store knows your name and always has nice things to say. People in line at the bank will talk to you about just about anything. The person sitting next to you on the bus or ferry is always open for a brief conversation.
This was certainly NOT my experience in San Francisco back in the USA. Luiz once squatted low and said hello to a small child at a bus stop while waiting for the bus and the child's mother yanked the child away and said sternly to Luiz, “Don’t talk to my child!”
The flip side seems to be the rather insular social groups here. It’s pretty hard to break into new social circles, unless you have found a friend in common. A good friend in common.
Lucky for us we have returned to Luiz’s home town where he had a gazillion childhood friends, all of whom welcome him back and have embraced me as one of their own. But branching out from there has proven pretty challenging.
Luiz’s time in his tourism classes in Rio has provided a great opportunity for him to meet new people. He’s so charming that it seems everyone loves him and we now get invitations to parties and events with his fellow students. I think we are breaking out of the old group a bit.
My success has come largely through blogger friends and teachers and students I have met in the English world.
But it has not been easy. I am grateful for the base of friends we have from Luiz’s past. But I also aspire to broader horizons.