Friday, June 4, 2010

Guanajuato, Mex - emails

On the tourist forums there are frequent complaints about trying to make reservations or get questions answered via email with Guanajuato (or any Mexican city) hotels, B & B's, or whatever. The websites of these places, so complains the Gringo, are never updated, the websites don't work, and most of all, they never answer emails.

The answer is easy: Mexico is, for the most part, a country of appearances.

Ned Crouch in his book, Mexicans & Americans, Cracking the Cultural Barrier, (A highly recommended book, by the way) tells of a story in which he went to a Mexican business supply company for some particular need. When looking at the company's brochure, he noted that the company indeed carried the item for which he was searching. Not only did they have the item, but there were claims that the company had these sound-proof cubicle dividers tested in a special laboratory to test the veracity of the product.

Mr. Crouch asked the receptionist where the products had been tested only to find they had NOT been tested anywhere. The conversation went forward to reveal that the claim was made in the company's printed material because that was expected by the customer and that was what company's like theirs claimed to be and do. They had to look like what their competitors looked like whether it was true or not. "They had to play the role and look the part." (page 191)

My wife worked for an ESL school in which the sign on the outside wall made all manner of wild claims of services offered on site that simply did not exist. When I asked the director why she had this sign she said because it made the school look competent. Also, she had 25, count them, 25 diplomas and certificated on the wall of her office attesting to her English teaching and speaking ability and she was in essence incapable of speaking, reading, or writing in English. She claimed to have aced the TOEFL exam.

There is a gift shop in Guanajuato that has an email address which the owner NEVER looks at. She told us she only checks the email if someone calls her and tells her that an email is forthcoming. (And what is the point of that I have to ask?)

These folks have email but do not do business, like take hotel reservations, with a faceless person.

It is culture, guys, and that's how it is. The email and websites are for appearances. It is "trying to play the role and look the part like the rest of the world."

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