Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mexico - Money Doesn't Buy You Love

Today I was sitting in one of our beautiful plazas when some Americans showed up and started taking pictures of this person's parrot. Seeing people walking around with what Americans would consider exotic animals is not unusual here. So we watched them snapping pictures and speaking to this guy, who didn't speak English, but who politely nodded and smiled at them.

I decided to engage these gringos since it is a great way to get ideas for my writing, and what do you know, here I am writing about it. See what I mean?

This lady and her husband, who were traveling with another couple, were from Jackson Hole, Wyoming; a place, I am told, that is popular with American celebrities. So I am thinking at this point, these folks have some bucks. Can you just imagine the real estate prices there if the Hollywood ilk have taken a liking to it? Anyway.

We began talking and my most favorite subject came up: San Miguel de Allende. If you have been following my train of thought in my writing, you will remember that I have this particular interest in that little Colonial Mexican town and how the American gringo population has essentially turned it into an American colony.

You will hear more English spoken there than Spanish. That is a bit on the pathetic side, if you ask me. But no one ever asks me!

So there we were talking and the subject of Mexican-Gringo relationships came up. I cannot fathom who first brought that subject up (wink, wink).

I made my point that in San Miguel de Allende there is "trouble in River City" because the Gringos there, for the most part, refuse to learn Spanish and to associate with the Mexicans. My point to her, which I always try to make in my writing, is there will never be a social link between the two groups, the gringos and the Mexicans, as long as the Americans refuse to learn the language.

The Americans build strip malls and gated communities and associate with "their own kind" because they won't learn the language (I don't even want to know if there are other reasons for their enclave mentality!). Just imagine the level of social interaction that is possible when no one can speak the language-we talking a big zero. What are you going to do, sit there and grunt and fart at each other?

To the Mexicans' credit, many of the shopkeepers and business people have learned English. But they have told us when we interviewed them, the Americans still will not associate with them. So the Mexicans accept the Americans' money and smile politely knowing that these Americans will never be their friends. I am not making this up-Mexicans have told us this to our gringo faces!

So, what do you think this woman's reaction was to my pontificating rhetoric?

"So, the Mexicans are not grateful for the money we bring into their community?"

Well, slap my face and call me Sally, but isn't that the typical American solution? How big a Freudian slip was that? Let us throw money at the poor misguided third-world savages so they will be properly thankful!

My God in Heaven, is it any wonder why the rest of the world is a little, how shall I say this, pissed off at America?

Mexicans want your friendship not your money! Money cannot but love, loyalty, faithfulness, or friendship. But apparently, a great number of Americans think that it can. Just look at what this lady's response was! Sheesh!

Our experience has been this: because we have attempted to learn their language and culture, we are invited into their lives and homes.

Mexicans see through this "let us throw money and watch them grovel in thankfulness" fa├žade. It will never buy their love and friendship.

I told all of this, I really did, to this woman's face. Her husband, maybe sensing the imminent explosion, sprang into action and dragged his red-faced wife off to go to some more gringo activities like throwing money at these poor misguided third-world savages.

Sigh.

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