Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico - Provincial Nightmare

PROVINCIAL: A person of local or restricted interests or outlook or a person lacking urban polish or refinement.

I am feeling in a bit of a temper this evening so I thought I would use a blog entry to rant and rave so that I can get this off my chest and can get some unmolested sleep.

Maybe it is just me, but I thought it was an interesting and noteworthy thing to write about when I began discovering the attitudes of Guanajuatenses (people who are from Guanajuato) to their fellow Mexicans who hailed from other parts of the republic.

The first indication we got that Provincial Guanajuatenses tend to treat other Mexicans with something not quite hate, but definitely something akin to contempt, was from a young woman who cut our hair. She was from Chihuahua City and had some very interesting stories about living in Guanajuato after being here for more than ten years and being ignored by the locals. She had no friends, had no prospects of having any, and told us that she was treated somewhat badly because she did not come from Guanajuato. Her explanation, and this was the very first hearing of this for us, was that Guanajuato was a tight and closed society.

Astoundingly, when we scouted about the city and talked with others from Chihuahua and Zacatecas, we found the same report. Two restaurant workers from the fine state of Zacatecas told us very much the same: they could not fit in the local culture, though having lived here for years and years, because Guanajuato is "tight" or "closed".

I knew two people from Peru and Chile who left Guanajuato over the same sort of rejection. I know someone from Guatemala who once went on a twenty-minute verbal rampage over two incidents in which she was denied service because of her accent and her use of a couple of Spanish words that had different usages in Mexico.

The words in Spanish they used to indicate "closed" or "tight" when referring to the Guanajuato expression of Mexican culture come close to meaning in English as "clannish".

This is not as unusual as you might think.

When I was in college, I once went with this girl to her parents' farm in the Ozark Mountains to help her dad build a chicken pen. The culture there was radically different and required an entirely different cultural set piece in order to function sanely. My friend lectured me all the way from Clarksville, Arkansas, to her Ozark Mountain home on how to act. I can't say they locals accepted me but they didn't tar and feather me as a Yankee spy.

I have to confess that at first I thought this clannish behavior was specifically targeting Gringos. I was wrong. Guanajuatenses treat other Mexicans with a kind of "Chilango Scum" attitude. Anyone not from Guanajuato, so I've been told, are Chilango or Gabacho.

Though we've lived in Guanajuato for more than six years, we had an event this afternoon which brought home that I am nothing but, and will never be anything other than, a Gabacho.

The doctor who is helping me with my blood clots has this office system that you show up and are seen "first come, first served." His receptionist has a different take.

She will pass all the Mexicans into seeing the doc before me no matter if I showed up first in line. Nothing I say or have said to her matters. She still does it. I am seen ALWAYS last if there are Mexicans to be seen.

Provincial Mexicans have no clue at all about fair play or taking turns.

The exception to this are well-educated Mexicans who have massive international experience.

Well, I did what I knew better than to try. I complained.

I didn't scream or call anyone names. I tried, in vain, to point out that I was there for a consultation and I should have been seen before all the others she passed into the consultorio before me. I was the second person in line.

So I told her I would find another doctor (one who takes appointments).

Living in Mexico is a blast. It is also very cheap. However, depending on where you choose to live, it might be harder than you think.

I have often said that in a city, like San Miguel de Allende, where the local economy is dependent on the foreign community's American Dollars, the gringo is going to be treated better than in Guanajuato, where the Guanajuatenses' ability to put tortillas on the table is NOT dependent on the expat community.

I personally believe, and go on record in saying, that the foreign community is treated far better in places like San Miguel or Puerto Vallarta than in Guanajuato.

What do you think?


A Walk Through Mexico's Crown Jewel: A Guanajuato Travelogue

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