Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guanajuato: Twilight Zone Strikes Again

Here I am. I haven't added a blog for almost an eternity and thought I would take the time this morning to get back into the blogging groove.

This month has been a total drag. I haven't had the energy to do anything at all, much less write, and feel ashamed of myself for that.

I did uncover some hard evidence that the Gabachos in Guanajuato have every intention to recreate another San Miguel de Allende here in Guanajuato. I suspected this years ago but never had anything substantial other than anecdotal evidence. I read a few days ago, on a Guanajuato forum, an outline of things these "Cultural Imperialists" want to get going here. They want another San Miguel and, I believe, are setting out to make Guanajuato into that imagine. A bilingual Mexican asked the question, and rightfully so, just what these people are going to do to get Mexicans involved in their re- engineering of Guanajuato's Mexican culture. I think she was being sarcastic.

Truly, Americans simply do not get it.

Another thing Americans simply do not get and I believe will never get, is that language is the key to the door of culture.

Why on earth would an American who really expatriated to any country and not learn the language I cannot begin to fathom. But it us what they do routinely.

My wife get scores of emails each month from Expat Wannabees who are selling hearth and home to move to Guanajuato and they don't speak a word of Spanish.

How do they do it?

They are coming in droves with not a thought in their willy-nilly heads that they will drive up the cost of living beyond imagination. To put it in the words of my pal, Roberto, "When they see the gabacho coming, they see American dollars, and the prices go up!"

Nor do they know that to get along in Guanajuato, that is, have a real life here, you have to know Spanish! Either they don't know it or they refuse to believe it.

San Miguel de Allende, according to one fakepat, is like living on a cruise ship with lots and lots of events--in English--scheduled. You never get bored.

In Guanajuato you have to live in the culture. That is, you have to be able to interact with the Mexicans in order to say you have a real life. Guanajuato is a thriving society only it is entirely in Spanish. The locals do not live to serve the gabacho.

A gringo in SMA wrote me once and said that for generations Mexican parents have taught their young in San Miguel that their existence is to serve the Americans. And, said this gringo, if they didn't like it they were welcome to live elsewhere.

The unmitigated arrogance!

The Twilight Zone moment I wanted to write about is that while there are some Americans who try to learn Spanish, most fail. They fail because they attempt to learn speech as though it was an academic pursuit.

It isn't!

Rather than engage in the process of second language acquisition and develop spoken fluency first, they take grammar courses. They learn something about the language but cannot speak enough to go to a Spanish only doctor when they are sick.

In becoming fluent in any language it is a "cart before the horse" issue. One leads to the other.

But, no matter how much I preach this in the highways and byways of Expat life, no one listens.

And, they remain monolingual.


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