"All the people from this country should be removed and replaced with Brazilians." This was my Latin American friend's response to the question, "So how are you getting along in Estonia?"
Sometimes it feels that way. As much as we care about Estonia and it's people, they can get annoying. We are equally as annoying for them, or at least amusing. Example. I am a father, and yet am not an Estonian father. I yell at my naughty children in shops, WHAT THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? They tend to ignore my spontaneous outbursts. An Estonian father though is austere and firm. All he has to do is mutter a few lines under his breath, and his children fall back in line. Good Estonian fathers are like The Sound of Music's Captain von Trapp before he started sleeping with Fraulein Maria.
That severity in character, respect for discipline, order, silence ... it can drive a non-Estonian to the edge. It builds up over time. My little daughter Maria, aged 20 months, greeted every passerby in Haapsalu over the weekend with, "Tere!" I would estimate that 20 percent of those greeted bothered to look at her or respond. The others winced and scurried by, as if they felt as if they had been found out by the friendly toddler. Why so reticent? I wondered. Did they think they were invisible?