Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No Trust in Paraguay

There's no trust in Paraguay. My host mom just yelled at me for having a lot of money on dining table. "I'm going to put it here on your desk," she said, as I laid in bed, sick. "Watch how much I'm putting," and she counted out the bills. I rolled my eyes. Not only do they not trust anyone, they don't expect you to trust them. They carefully count my money back to me anytime I threw them some cash to pick me up something while they were at the store. I roll my eyes every time. "I trust you," I say.

Isn't it said that all relationships are built on trust? It's not surprising then that Paraguayans stick to their kin. It's not surprising that romantic relationships are clingy and jealous.

It's hard for me, just coming in from the sunny states, where we can afford to take a man on his word. When people don't trust me, I take it personally. When my boyfriend can't see why I can't see that it's a terrible idea for male volunteers to crash at my house, I feel like it's a reflection of my personal devotion.

But it's just the way it is here. You count your change. You don't take chances.

I remember one female friend talking about all the other girls she worked with. "And her, I don't trust her, because she's too quiet and you don't know what she's thinking," she said. "And that other one, I don't trust her either." I kind of laughed, but she looked at me and said, "Seriously, Pau, you have to look out for yourself. You can't trust anyone but yourself."

And I wanted so badly to tell her that that's not true. That I trust people. But how much weight could my words have against someone who's lived under a dictator who tortured his own people, a bishop president with three illigitimate children, a place where honesty is the exception, and not the rule?

1 comment:

ThinkingMansUhuru said...

That's interesting. When I was in Kenya, people seemed almost TOO trusting. If someone said they would pay the money and defaulted " Hakuna Matata", the money would be paid back, so no worries.

Still.. like Paul Thoreau writes in his book "Dark Star Safari", African's are bound to tell every white person that "There are Bad People here/there", which ironically can be anywhere depending on who you talk to.

What you are wrestling with is a major question: Are people inherently good or inherently evil?

In our culture, we extend trust until that trust is broken, in a culture that has never known real trust because it has always been broken, trust is only earned after years of being with the same people and the same community.