Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Most Hated Gringo in the World Report – 11

Since this is the 11th issue of The Most Hated Gringo in the World Report I thought we would review in case you are just joining us and are wondering who is this nut claiming to be The Most Hated Gringo in the World.

Well, I am not so much claiming anything as I am accepting my title like a brave little soldier. Five years or so ago the wife and I moved to a little city in the Mexican highlands called, Guanajuato. Three years prior to coming we spent almost every weekend of our lives at the local bookstore sipping White Café Mochas and reading all the material we possible could, (without getting thrown out of Barnes and Noble), on the issue of expatriating to Mexico.

Knowing we would be thrown all manner of cultural loops and that we would have mishaps galore, we jumped the border with one primary goal in mind: Learn Spanish.

In our pre-expat research, we decided that the only logical survival skill we needed to pursue, at first, was mastering the language. The thought of not doing so never entered our minds.

If Spanish is the Portal to the Mexican Culture, and if were moving to Mexico for love of culture, then the language was our primary objective.

What we absolutely did NOT anticipate was the plethora of Disneylands, oh…wait, Gringolandias, oh… wait, enclaves, oh… wait, Cultural Imperialists…well, you get the idea. We had no clue that there would be literally thousands of Gringos in this country who, for the vast majority, would not have enough skill in the language to literally save their lives if it came to that.

Furthermore, another issue we never encountered in our pre-expat research was that we would see the clearest and most salient examples of Cultural Imperialism. I mean, I had an academic idea what Culture Imperialism was but never did I suspect I would see this and in some towns, happening on a daily basis.

"Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting, distinguishing, separating, or artificially injecting the culture or language of one nation into another." – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The problem arose when I dared to begin to write about this phenomenon and how that if you intend to call yourself an expat that perhaps you should actually live in the culture and speak the language of the culture in which you claim to have expatriated.
It is astounding that there can be more than 14,000 Gringos living in a city of about 75,000 Mexicans and not live in the culture the Gringolandians claim to love and champion.

A bilingual Mexican woman told me she was at a party where she was the only bilingual. The rest were Gringos. Finally, the woman blurted out at the Gringos have had been living in this Gringolandia town literally for years,

"Why is it none of you speak my language? Is there something inferior about it?"

I am not talking perfection of linguistic skill here, folks. I am talking about at least an ardent desire that moves one to obtaining the keys to the culture of which the vast majority of Gringolandians have none. I am talking about a persistence of will and determination to learn the only thing that will give you the ability to assimilate into the culture: Spanish. If you are not even in the fight, the battle, then how can you call yourself anything but a Cultural Imperialist? You are not an Expat!

So, I suspect you can see why I routinely get death threats from Gringos in these Gringo Enclaves who resent my breathing air in Mexico and who have literally wished me death.

Disclaimer: I do not always get death threats. Mostly I get threats of having the "you-know-what" beaten out of me if the Gringo catches me on the streets of Guanajuato. These come through anonymous emails and "reader's comments" on the online articles I write—also equally anonymous.

(Does lack of character, ethics, or morals come to mind here?)


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