Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Having Mexican Friends or Not?

Here is a forum post I read and to which I would like to respond:

"I always have to smile when a NOB American, who's planning to move to Mexico, says she wants to come down and live in a Mexican pueblo and not near any gringos so she can bond with the Mexicans. They are a very tight-knit group! As stated, they will be very polite, but they don't want you for their new-best friend unless there is money involved, and even then they will pretty much interact with you only on an employee-employer level. Without my gringa friends, I would be very lonely and sad. I would never think of moving anywhere that I could not have access to my gringas!"

This quote is true to an extent. Throughout the 7 years we've lived in Guanajuato we've found ourselves on both sides of this issue.

When we moved to Mexico we had absolutely no desire to mix with Gringos. Why, we reasoned, would we want to be a part of a Gringolandia when we went through all the trials and tribulations of moving to Mexico? If we had wanted to be a part of an American enclave, a.k.a. a Gringolandia, why move to another country? We could have stayed in America if that had been what we wanted to do.

We found ourselves Mexican friendless based on the degree of our Spanish fluency. The more and more we increased our Spanish fluency the more and more we began to develop Mexican friendships. And, what I mean by Mexican friendships is being invited into their homes to dine but mostly just to chat. Never once did these who invited us into their homes and with whom we've had friendships ask us for money.

Mexicans are, as the forum poster stated above, "a very tight-knit group." They are that. And it is not easy to win your way into their hearts. Some do befriend you based on their preconceived notion that ALL Americans are rich and exist to take advantage of financially. it is just a way of life here. Not ALL Mexicans will do this. Some actually have a work ethic and an ethic that teaches they should work for their money instead of relying on the rich American patron. Some don't, unfortunately.

We are friends with two groups of Mexicans. One is a group of Christians. We attend church with them each Sunday (protestants) who have taken us into their lives. We've been in their homes many times. Never once have any of them asked us for money (as if we had any extra dollars laying around going unused).

The other group of Mexicans have no particular church or Christian leanings (other than Catholicism) and still invite us into their homes to eat or just to have a cup of coffee and lots of chatting. Neither have they begged money.

Though the poster, in her mass generalizations, did not indicate whether or not she can carry on a meaningful and in-depth conversation in Spanish with anyone, I just wonder whether she can or not.

My best friend is a Mexican guy in our church. We've sat and held he and his wife's hands through family tragedy and would not have been able to had we not had the Spanish fluency we have.

So, consider that when reading posts like the one I quoted above.

You might note that 96% - 97% of Americans cannot speak a foreign language. This carrys over when they move to Mexico expecting the Mexican to fall at their feet and become fast friends for life.

It took us seven years and this, we are convinced, directly related to our Spanish fluency!

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