Friday, March 12, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico - Working the Culture #7

One of the reasons Gringolandians brand me The Most Hated Gringo in the World is that they never live in the culture they profess to love and adore. When they read what I've written, and continue to write, they cannot judge whether or not what I write is true or not. They NEVER live in the Mexican culture. They live in a delusional bubble, a dream-state, a cushion, an enclave, or Gringolandia. From within their faked existences they say they've never experienced that which I write therefore what I write is a lie.

Great logic, don't you think Mr. Bill?

Consequently, they live in a perpetual Honeymoon with Mexico which is, by the way, the first stage of cultural shock.

When the Gringo relocates to Mexico the normal or natural progression of emotions should be a spectrum such as profound admiration to rejection, isolation to assimilation. Taken as a normal and natural progression, this forms the stages of Culture Shock.


I believe the Gringolandians never leave this stage. Since they live and breathe in a Gringo Bubble, exposed to only Gringolandians on any level or depth, they never have sufficient enough exposure to the host country's inhabitants to leave the Honeymoon stage.

Their false perception of the differences in Mexico will be embraced with excitement and fascination.

Have you ever wondered why so much of the screed on Life in Mexico is so Ivory Tower that you can't read it for the blinding brilliance? And why are Americans here so gullible they fail to see the culture’s defects. Everything, no matter how objectionable, is "a beautiful native custom" and all Mexicans "are a beautiful people"..

This false or bubbled perception should last mere weeks but since they live in a Gringolandia where they continue to live in what is essentially a miniature America--Gringolandia--they never leave, as they should, the Honeymoon stage.

A true expat experience is one in which the individual eventually leaves the Honeymoon or Fakepat stage and begins to encounter the difficulties of language, housing, finding new friends, from living in another country.


This very normal next step or stage in Culture Shock is marked by what could be described as excessive, over-the-top criticism, complaining, resentment, and even anger: "What have I done by moving to this @&$^% country?"

The Expat, as opposed to the Fakepat, will eventually encounter difficulties in understanding and coping with the vast differences that exist between Mexico and America. When you encounter a so-called expat who claims to have never encountered any difficulties in the new culture then you can know with a 100% certainty that you are talking to a Fakepat who lives in a Gringolandia.

The Rejection period can be triggered by the realization that, as an outsider in a new culture, language or misunderstandings of cultural cues can often make the simplest task seem like a daunting challenge. Furthermore, because the high expectations set during the Honeymoon Period appear much farther out of reach, the individual feels disillusioned. (Mary Ann Santoro Bellini, Ph.D.; September 30th, 2005)


This is the "bubble pops" stage. A profound letdown is experienced. Your Honeymoon gets a healthy dose of reality. You become hyper-critical of almost everything in the new culture and you make continue references to home. You begin to forget why you left America in the first place and begin to hyper-inflate the things about America. The things you hated and wanted to leave behind suddenly don't seem as bad or are forgotten.

Symptoms exhibited during this period include anxiety, sadness, homesickness, and anger. These feelings manifest themselves in changes in behavior: inappropriate anger over slight delays and minor frustrations, changes in sleep patterns, compulsive eating and/or drinking, irritability, poor concentration, and unexplainable crying. The stage of Rejection and Regression is variable in length but can last up to 6-8 weeks. (Mary Ann Santoro Bellini, Ph.D.; September 30th, 2005)


Eventually the true expat begins to employ language skills to find the resources to cope with the vast differences in culture. When the expat has put in the necessary work to learn Spanish, then he or she can begin to ask the question that seems to cure all culture ills: "Why?"

When the expat begins to be able to ask Mexicans about the what formerly felt as impossible obstacles within the culture, then coping becomes automatic.

Gringolandians will tell me that "all my friends are Mexicans." This is Fakepat speak that means all their friends are bilingual Mexicans. Most Gringolandians cannot speak enough Spanish to go to the doctor. Therefore they are dependent upon bilingual Mexicans to give them a limited perspective. If they want to live in the culture then they need to be able to interface with Mexicans from all the socio-economic spectrum and not just a minority of bilingual Mexicans.

One is true expatriatism and the other is not.

One results in cultural assimilation while the other results in perpetuating the Gringolandia induced Honeymoon Stage.



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


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