Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Working the Culture #3

Because the average, run-of-the-mill American Gringo comes from a country with little to no international exposure, they tend to regard Mexico, their very, very foreign neighbor, as just another American state.

In interviews I've done with Mexican tour guides, the single most infuriating thing which urks the Mexican more than almost anything else is that the American expects everything in Mexico to be just like America. It is because of this tendency in the minds of Americans that they know so little about Mexicans.

This can and does affect everything in the daily life of the American Gringo expat or tourist.

No matter what it is you will try to do while living in Mexico, you will run into cultural walls that you will want to tear down and when you can't, you will want to be on the next express plane back to America.

A friend told me of an event that he encountered in Guanajuato's El Jardin. He was getting a shoe shine when this Gringo who had been pacing up and town the walkway ripped out his cell phone and phones home to American. His conversation with his American contact went something like this:

"Hello, Sam? I am here to tell you that no one in this @%#*& town speaks a word of English. What am I going to do? I am heading back to the airport and catch the first plane out of here."

You've just got wonder how he made it to Guanajuato in the first place. And, just what did he expect? (Spanish was the language chosen by the Mexicans a long time ago and it seems that they are very happy with that decision...Get over It!)

Look, for the Mexican their right to be different than Americans had been hard earned.

They've had to endure invasion and military occupation by the Spanish, the French, and the United States. And today, they are again invaded by the American Cultural Imperialists in the various Gringolandians popping up all over the country. By comparison, Americans have had it easy.

Americans, because of their financial dominance, tend to run over other's culture. They certainly do not learn Spanish and tend to turn their surroundings into "something more suitable to their American tastes," when moving to Mexico.

All of this weighs heavily on the minds of the Mexican.

In a survey I conducted a few years ago, all but one of those I asked the question, "Do you feel it is a matter of disrespect when the gringo moves to Mexico and refuses to learn Spanish," answered in the affirmative.

If you want to improve your standing in the Mexican town you are considering as a place to live, then learn the language. Resolve to remember at all times that Mexicans will never be direct with you in telling exactly what is on their minds or to tell you "no."

Being direct, remember, is considered an insult, and they won't do it. They do not want to be rude.

You have got to understand the dance steps of the Mexican culture and be willing to dance with the Mexican gardener when need be.


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



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