Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico: Fact or Fiction

I've written about this previously but two recent events have motivated me to revisit this issue:

Have you ever wondered why so much of the screed on Life in Mexico is so Ivory Tower that you can't read it for the blinding brilliance? And why are Americans here so gullible they fail to see the culture’s defects. Everything, no matter how objectionable, is "a beautiful native custom" and all Mexicans "are a beautiful people".

The most amazing phenomenon occurs when Gringos come to Guanajuato as tourist and especially as expats (Fakepats?). Any "street smarts" they have as the result of living in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, or any other city in the States where crime is an issue (and what city in the States isn't crime ridden?), is left at the border and they engage in risky behaviors they wouldn't dream of doing in American cities.

They will walk the streets of Guanajuato at all hours of the night expecting that-- Everything, no matter how objectionable, is "a beautiful native custom" and all Mexicans "are a beautiful people"...

This is one of the most perplexing things to me and I cannot begin to understand it.

It is as though Americans specifically will come here and suddenly act like they've been transported to a mythical place where God Himself dwells and all the locals are God's servants who would never dare try to make you a crime victims much less even think about it.

A few months ago we met with a potential expat over lunch who actually said,

"Crime in Mexico is nothing like that in America."

This belief had her walking the streets of Guanajuato at risky hours of the night and early morning -- ALONE!

A few months later another American couple marveled at how they can walk the streets in the middle of the night without anyone "bothering them."

What is this mindset? Where does the idea originate that you can come to Mexico and act like you have arrived in Nirvana or Heaven on Earth where nothing but goodness, perfection, and the total absence of evil dwells? Where is the Gringo's Vacation Street Smarts?

What I am saying is that "something" seems to happen to the minds of Americans who would not be caught dead going to an ATM machine in the middle of the night in their home cities and yet they will do that here and even more stupid things.

We are personally acquainted with Americans, both tourists and expats, who have engaged in mindlessly risky behavior and have ended up beaten so badly that a trip to the hospital was required. Two of these events were sexual assaults. And, what were these Americans doing? They were walking the streets of Guanajuato at risky hours and walking along risky streets and callejons (alleys).

If you are internet savvy enough to ferret out these blogs, forums, and websites you will find some of the most ill-informed information. My absolute favorite is the one in which it is actually written that "Mexicans know how to treat their fellow man better..." While it may be true that "some" Mexicans know how to treat their fellow man better, it cannot be said to be true of "all" Mexicans without exception. And yet, this is exactly the impression I get from face to face encounters with Americans who seem the believe Mexico is really HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Let me just say this: Those Gringos who live here and who have sent me death threats for writing the truth about living in Mexico, have had ulterior motives. They've objected vehemently to be suggesting anything other than Mexico is the Promised Land of Milk and Honey.

It isn't that they have such a love for language and culture that they feel they must defend Mexico's reputation that they think I have maligned.

What it is, is that they have a real estate business or some other undocumented business in this country from which they are hauling in truck loads of money and don't want me upsetting their money-machine applecart. For a third-party perspective on this issue, Click Here.

The Ivory Tower Writers are biased and that should be taken into consideration when listening to their sales pitch.

These money grubbers will tell you anything (and they know what you want to hear) to get you to buy what it is they are selling. They will do so at the expense of truth itself and never lose any sleep over it -- ever!

Look, Mexico is a great place with serious problematic issues. It is like any other country on the face of the planet. It has some very excellent qualities and it has some problems. Some of these problems are more horrific than you can possibly imagine. For an example of the viciousness of Mexican crime, Click Here. It is fun place to vacation (and live) if, and only if, you take precautions and don't commit stupid acts of recklessness. Don't do in Mexico what you wouldn't do at home.

We are constantly getting emails asking how "safe it is" to vacation or live in Mexico. How can one begin to possibly answer that question? You need to be able to read Spanish and check out the online versions of their available news media. Don't listen to someone in a travel agency or a real estate money grubber who has a bias in trying to convince you it is Shangri-La.

Here are some resources. If you can't read Spanish then use one of the online translators to help you. Or, have a Spanish speaking friend translate for you!


Guanajuato News
Guanajuato Television
It Happened in Mexico


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

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