Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Working the Culture #2

To be well on your way to cultural fluency is to recognize the one thing that gets the expat into trouble almost more than anything else. That is, believing the American way is the only way to get anything done.

American culture is the "I-did-it-my-way" culture and this breeds a certain kind of arrogance when the American tries living in Mexico or any other country.

This also breeds a contempt in other cultures regarding America and her people that the American will rarely, if ever, hear it told them explicitly. Being polite to a fault, rarely if ever contentious or confrontational, the Mexican will simply tolerate you in his or her country trying to be pleasing to the Gringolandian.

Because of the endearing Mexican quality of tolerance, the Gringo reports back home to potential expats that the Gringo is loved in Mexico. "They Love Us Here" is believed by the Gringolandian and they will take great offense at someone like me coming along and reporting that the Mexican does not "They Love Us here."

The Mexican has definite opinions about the American who invades their country. Whether it is as a tourist, a business man, or to become a member of a Gringolandian, the Mexican regards the American as impatient, having an anger problem, overly contentious, arrogant, confrontational, and anal retentive regarding time.

But, the average American Gringo will never, ever be told this or figure this out. One of the prime reasons is the language. The vast majority of Gringos will remain forever monolingual and never be able to reach a level of social intimacy with Mexicans to learn these innermost feelings.

Here's a tip: Want to win your way into the innermost thoughts of the Mexican? Learn Spanish.

Whether or not the expat wannabe is going to succeed in Guanajuato, or in any country really, is dependent on how they come across to their host nation's members--the locals. How you present yourself will eventually determine how well you end up living in Guanajuato.

Because a Mexican will not openly challenge you, the know-it-all-Gringo, does not mean you've made your case. If you want to get that roof fixed, the car repaired correctly, someone to show up on time, to give you a straight answer then leave your "It's-my-way-or-the-highway" Gringo false superiority at the border.

Like it or not, just because you have money does not mean your way is the only way. All the money in the world will never buy the Mexican's love, devotion, or loyalty.

It never will.


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