Friday, June 13, 2008

Mexico a Retirement Paradise

During a conversation I had with a Gringo couple in the delightfully charming little park called Embajadoras in Guanajuato, Mexico, I asked if they knew there were no Disclosure Laws in Mexico when buying real estate. They were duly shocked. They were in Guanajuato to buy a house and had absolutely no clue that they could be taken for all their money only to get a lemon. Was I surprised? Nope.

I've mostly stopped writing about expat issues online for the simple reason I get my life threatened for doing so. It's been a while (January 2008) since I've received a threat to my physical safety. This one told me, in an anonymous post, that I had better be watching over my shoulder for an attack while out walking the streets of Guanajuato. Someone actually tried getting rid of me on June 4, 2007, but that is another story.

I also try to stay out of downtown Guanajuato and stay on "my side of the tracks" since more than one verbal attack, and in my face I might add, has happened. I avoid that area, wouldn't you?

The couple we met in Embajadoras, my side of the tracks, is not an exception. Most of the Gringos we've encountered on the streets of Guanajuato and who send me emails really do think Mexico is just like America.

One lady, who bought and read my first book, The Plain Truth About Living in Mexico, actually posted a "Reader's Response" on threatening to come to Guanajuato to hunt me down like an animal and slap me. Her motive for wanting to hurt me was that I mentioned repeatedly "remember, Mexico is not America" throughout the book. Several commented along the same lines, telling the world of readers that I shouldn't put in a book that which is patently obvious.

If Mexico is not America is so patently obvious, then why do the vast majority Gringos who are invading Central Mexico like a locust plague understand so little about Mexico?

One lady wrote my wife asking if the lettuce was safe to eat in Guanajuato because she just had to have this vegetable on her tacos. Can you begin to guess what she thought the tacos in Mexico would be like? Do the words "Taco Bell" come to mind?

Some of the ignorance we encounter can be comical and some is downright dangerous.

One pair of blonde-bombshell American co-eds thought that it was perfectly safe to stroll the streets at three in the morning and wanted a refund on their hotel bill after they were attacked by a roving gang of adolescent thugs down the street from the hotel. Americans will come here and flaunt their wealth as though this were Nirvana itself, never fearing they are making themselves a target. For some reason they come here and do things they would never do on the streets of Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, or New York.

I received an email once from a young Canadian chap who is married to a Mexican woman and has two sons. They live in one of the northern states in Mexico. In response to an article I published with Escape Artist magazine, he said that he meets Americans and Canadians constantly who think that moving to Mexico is like coming to a Fantasy Island Welcoming party where the Mexicans have been waiting with breathless anticipation for the Gringo's arrival.

Do you recall that American television show? Introduced to American television in 1977, this was a program in which tales were told of visitors who would come to this magical island where their fantasies could and would come true. For about fifty thousand dollars, the guests would buy their fantasies. Shown to American audiences on ABC, it remained popular and later developed a cult following in syndication.

The comparison of Americans and Canadians moving to Mexico based on a Fantasy is an accurate one.

Just as Fantasy Island Fiction was touted as a Paradise on Earth where your wildest dreams could be made to happen, so moving to Mexico is made to appear as retiring to a Shangri-La.

One huckster actually claims all of Mexico has been so Americanized that you'll want to move here right away. Some sites claim that English is so widely spoken that you will never have to be bothered with learning Spanish. Words like "heaven on earth," "paradise," "slice of heaven," "pennies to heaven" and "retirement paradise" are frequently used.

And the all-time quote of quotes:

"The people of Mexico routinely treat strangers with warmth and curiosity. The people here seem to have the ability to enjoy life, be more hospitable, more respectful of their fellow man." (I wonder if these people ever watch the News on Mexican television?)

We were just in San Miguel de Allende, one of the most expensive Retirement Paradises in Mexico, when we heard a retiree tell us how he was attacked with weapons by a gang of Mexican thugs. He not only was robbed, but also beaten to a pulp and thrown down a cliff. He survived physically but did his "Retirement Paradise Fantasy" mentality survive?

An expat couple was robbed at gunpoint in the historic center of San Miguel de Allende at the beginning of the month.

A Gay Couple was attacked in their home and left for dead.

A Serial Rapist terrorized women for months.

The point is that those real estate moguls in the Gringolandias of Mexico don't have any morals whatsoever when they tell you anything they think you want to hear so that you will buy the properties they have to sell.

It's the bottom line: Your money at the cost of any lie or fabrication!

Mexican Living is not a paradise, nirvana, Shangri-La, heaven on earth, or a Fantasy Island Welcoming Party. It is a country that has some very good things about it and some things that are wickedly bad.

English is not widely spoken outside the resort areas. Not all of Mexico is so Americanized that it is like living in America. Not all Mexicans will be warm and friendly. There are some places in Mexico that are so Gringo Unfriendly that you would not be able to get along at all there without speaking Spanish fluently. Some Mexicans, though most will not confront you face to face (some will), will resent you being here. If you don't know Spanish then you can never know the rude comments they make about the American presence when passing them on the streets.

And most of all: Mexico is not America.

I wonder if the Gringo will ever get that?

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