Monday, June 2, 2008

The Games Gringos Play

I have the distinguished honor of being the most hated Gringo, Expat, Extranjero, and American ever to have taken a step over the American-Mexican border. I also have been bequeathed with the title of The Most Ignorant Gringo. I know less of Mexican Culture, according to the bequeathors, than absolutely anyone who has ever come to Mexico. I am also, according to one retired professional writer, a "Fourth-Rate Talentless Hack" with regards to the writing that has so upset the Gringolandia populations of San Miguel de Allende and the city of Guanajuato.

It is with breathless anticipation I await this summer's barrage of accolades from the well-established Gringolandia in San Miguel de Allende and the burgeoning one in the city of Guanajuato. I am so excited I could just wet my pants.

June 4th will mark the one-year anniversary of the death threat I received from one (or more—who knows?) of my fans, in which he or she said,

"I hope when I wake up in the morning I will find you have been taken care of by the Gringos of Guanajuato."

I took the route of dismissing this as the ranting of one of the thousands of insanity-motivated Gringolandians who rule their Gringolandia Kingdoms but who take too low a dose of Thorazine. This was a mistake.

I received the threat during the afternoon of June third. It came to me via an "anonymous" reader's comment on one of my articles listed on Associated Content. About twelve hours later, I was up (thank God!) with insomnia when I heard a crackling sound outside our bedroom window. What I discovered was a fire no more than 15 feet away. A taxi was ablaze and threatened to turn into a bomb should the gas tank ignite.

Fortunately, I sounded the alarm. Everyone escaped harm. The taxi, however, was a total loss.

The fire was NEVER investigated.

Now, in case you're wondering, "Just what did this schmuck do to engender such hatred?" I will tell you:

I have written hundreds of thousands of words in books, articles, and blogs trying to convince potential expats to Mexico to learn Spanish. I have linked the learning of Spanish with the ability to access the Mexican culture. No Spanish = No culture. I have been trying to make the point that without learning the language you can never assimilate into the Mexican culture and become a part of the Mexican community. I have said that there would never be Gringolandias, Gringolandians, or American enclaves if those who move here would learn Spanish. Gringolandia would never have to exist.

I have dared to suggest that the degree to which the expat is invisible in the local community because of his or her bilingualism and bi-culturalism shows The Measure of expatriation success.

Some of the expats didn't like this at all. For all my pontificating, I have received, and continue to receive, frequent threats to my physical safety from these Gringolandians.

Are you sure you want to retire to Mexico and live with such a lively and loveable cast of characters?

More than 99.9 % of what I write about the culture is done so only after confirming my observations with Mexican nationals. Because I can handle the language (and hope to someday reach at least a Mexican college student's fluency level), I can ask Mexicans from all socio-economic levels about their perceptions of what I've observed.

And, even though I am the most ignorant and hated expat ever to cross the border and even though I have the honor of knowing absolutely nothing about Mexico and her culture, here is part of an email message from a Mexican national who very recently corresponded with my wife after reading of our Expat Philosophy:

"Before we go any further, can I hug you? Yours is really the first time I have seen this attitude in this forum. My impression has been that most people want to carve out a little piece of "home" in another country... And how many times have people come into the forum saying they want to move to Mexico but knowing very little about it, and not speaking any Spanish, or really making much of an effort to learn."

A Hispanic gentleman who is a consultant to American businessmen who want to do business in Latin America wrote:

"I just read your article on living in Mexico titled Expat or Fakepat. I applaud you. This is the kind of advice I have been writing to authors who I think have given a less than accurate account of living in Mexico. I have spent my entire career launching fortune 100 companies through out Latin America this is the first time I have read something which was unvarnished and straightforward about living in Latin America."

So, tell me:

Does this mean I have to give "The Most Hated Gringo-Expat" title back?


GUANAJUATO MEXICO - Mexico's Greatest Colonial City.

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