Monday, November 30, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico - "Blood Suckers"

From time to time a theme that arises in the online forums is whether or not there is a dual price system, THE GRINGO versus THE MEXICAN price for just about everything from an apple to renting a house. This, of course, is an American expatriate issue.

Let me say that there are definitely two prices. The Mexican pays one price and the Gringo the much higher.

This is so plainly so that it is so painfully so to hear the bickering online and even to have some Mexicans weigh in on the side of "We are righteous and fair Mexicans and would never charge the Gringo an unfairly inflated price."

It took us about a week of living here (we are now seven year residents of Guanajuato, Mexico) to find out that we were being charged more than our Mexican neighbors for just about everything. The way we discovered this was by our fluency in Spanish and listening to the transaction ahead of us in line in the market place.

My wife would stand in line (no Mexican stands in a line, if you must know) at the market to buy produce. She would listen and hear the proprietor charge the Mexican in front of her one price and when she would buy the same thing in the same amounts the price would suddenly, as if by magic, inflate to double or triple than what the Mexican paid.

We've bought donuts at sidewalk kiosks and hear the vendor charge a lower price to the Mexican in front of us.

What absolutely throws me is to read of Mexicans complain of "racism" when I point this out. They deny this practice takes place. Deny...deny...deny - denial of this long accepted and practiced custom. I am at a loss to explain their reactions.

As I said, this goes for buying one donut to renting a house.

We pay, right now, four thousand pesos for your basic squalor house. It is furnished, so hey, there you go.

The landlord came right out and admitted she was charging us double what a Mexican would pay.

We are presently looking to move. As soon as we call an ad listing a rental for $1,500 - $2,000 pesos a month, the rental price suddenly increases to double or more. The instant the land-baron senses we are Gringos, the prices becomes astronomical. We are rich Americans after all so why not?

People from one of the rare Mexican protestant churches we attend here have been super-supportive.

I was talking to one of the Elders of our church and told him of our plight. He said, and I quote:

"I am so embarrassed that my fellow Mexican is so unjust and dishonest. We are blood suckers when it comes to treating Americans."

This evening a contingency of our church people came to our house for a battle strategy meeting. They are also of the opinion that their fellow Mexicans are right down dishonest when it comes to Americans and are going to help us move. They are going to act as mediators, using their connections, to get us a fair and reasonable price for a rental and furniture.

I recall looking at an apartment in another Mexican state. The place was listed for $2750 pesos but when the real estate guy saw we were Americans it shot up to $3,500 pesos with the schmuck claiming this was the "IVA" tax.

What? An IVA tax on Gringos?

Mexicans, that is some Mexicans, write me and wring me out for being racist when I write about this.

Americans, this virtually all of them, who care a whit about this, write me and threaten my life (I am not kidding) when I write about this.

The complaining Mexicans I cannot explain. The Mexicans I know and fellowship with in church tell me their fellow Mexican is a "blood sucker" and yet I get mail, mostly from Mexico City, calling me a bigot.

The complaining Americans I can indeed a word--STUPID!

The vast majority of Americans who try and move here cannot speak enough Spanish to order a taco much less being able to tell when the Mexican in the market line in front of them is being charged a lower price. They just can't or more likely WON'T learn enough Spanish to be wise in the market place.

And, the STUPID AMERICANS will pay what ever price they are told and haven't the skill linguistically or logically to know the difference. is the way it is so don't get your panties twisted in a knot over it.

As for my wife and I, we are going to be paying less for rent as the result of building relationships with Mexican friends.

The Dual Price System is alive and well in Mexico.

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