Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico - Talking For a Tip

"...the Careys are questioning the safety of tourists in Mexico and warning others who plan to venture there." -- Vacation from Hell


One year we were on a traveling jag. We went everywhere and then some. We rolled into a Mexican town called Aguascalientes and had a two hour layover before making our connection to our next destination.

I was sitting outside watching the buses coming and going and the people. I get some of the greatest blog fodder from people watching.

A young Mexican man walked up and sat beside me and began talking. He wanted to know all sort of things like where I was from, if I liked living in Mexico, what I did for a living, etc... We talked for an hour, at least, until my bus was ready.

When I stood to board my bus the young man thanked me very much and then held out his hand and said, "That will be $25.00 dollars."

He asked for dollars and not pesos.

When I asked him what for, in my dramatic, heightened tone of voice, he said it was for being nice to me and chatting. That was his fee for talking to me.

Well, I told him to get lost, got on my bus, and watched him through the bus window staring daggers at me. I am sure he is hating me to the grave.

Yesterday, the wife and I went downtown to do some business. When we walked up from one of the tunnels, we were set upon by a pair of ten years olds who in accented yet perfect English asked if they could tell us a story. I assumed it was to practice their English. We used to see this a lot. The kids would ask you if you would speak to them in English for practice. I assumed this was the case.

Luckily I asked her why to which she responded, "After I tell you the story you can pay me a nice tip."

After I sent her packing I said to my wife, "They learn young, don't they."

Gringo tourists love this sort of thing. I see the Gringos constantly forking over the dough to these hucksters. They squeal with such practiced delight and merriment over the kids doing this. The younger the better.

But, what's wrong with this picture?

First, this is what the American and other tourists expect when coming to Mexico. They want the locals to entertain them and the younger the shyster the funnier they seem to the Gringo. This huckstering is not what the educated Mexican trying to pull their country out of the
Third-World-Country mire wants to be thought of. And yet, this is what a lot of Mexican children are taught to do.

Our friend, Erica, told us that she, her cousins, and most of her peers were taught from a very early age that the Americans, the Gringos, are their ATM's, the banks, their fountain of wealth. They were taught how to scam the Gringos from as young as she could remember.

It is a lesson in how to get by, barely by, with scamming the Americans when they come as tourists. Instead of working hard at a job, they are taught it is easier to beg. Some, children as well as adults, will lie to your face with how a member of their family died and they can't afford to bury them. A favorite is when an adult male will put on an Academy Award winning performance, tears and all, telling how his wife lost their baby and they can't get the body back from the police for burial until they pay a fee.

Then there are those who will talk to you then try and get your money from you for the effort.

It teaches how Americans are an easy mark and why should they have to work hard when it is so easy to scam the stupid Gringos.

Secondly, Gringos paying out money for such shysterism perpetuates the idea that the Gringos exist to take care of the Mexican. This is disgusting beyond measure. It fosters the myth that Americans, without exception, are fabulously wealthy and are there for the Mexican to take for a ride.

I have asked Mexicans who beg money from me why they think I have money and why they think I have money to give to them. Without exception their answer has been because I am a Gringo.

I got into an hour-long discussion with a group of youths who told me they were taught that because Americans, all of us, are wealthy that it is not wrong to cheat us, steal from us, rob us, or scam us. If we were poor, it would be wrong. Since we are all rich beyond description, it is ok.

(There is also the President Polk and Texas incident to which they will allude.)

I have a good friend at our church who is 45 years old, married, and has three children. The man works his tail off to put his kids through school, including college, and does all the work on his home. He told me he's never had to rent a house because he has always worked hard to be able to buy a home. He has just now purchased a pair of computers and internet service for his kid's school work and all from HARD WORK!

Think of the example to his children. They have learn delayed gratification, to work hard, that nothing comes very easy in life, and that if you want something in life go out there and work for it.

I just love that!


2. A WALK THROUGH MEXICO'S CROWN JEWEL - A Guanajuato Travelogue


1 comment:

Liz said...

I come in peace!

Sorry to ruin the "0 comments" that prevails on your blog :) but your story is quite funny.

My maternal grandad was born in San Luis de la Paz, Gto. One of his favorite stories from childhood is him and his friends asking "One cent, Mister" to the gringos who went there to work in something related to railroads (I might be wrong about the railroads, though).

He told me he did it just for fun, even if they didn't give any money... it was a way of killing time with his friends back in the 1930s :)

Keep up the good job, love the realistic point of view on your blog.