These days, its getting a little tough being a US ex-pat living in Mexico. To start with, you have an idiot presidential candidate going around the US telling people he will build a wall to keep out raping and murdering Mexicans, and even make them pay for it! You then have a stupid old fool of a sheriff in Arizona rounding up Mexicans for jaywalking and treating them like caged animals, while he parades around in front of the TV cameras, showing what tough guy he is. Seems using Mexicans to advance your career, while unfairly dragging an entire nation and it people through the mud in front of the world, works quite well. Throw in some drunk and thoughtless vacationers who forget their manners when they are in someone else’s country, and it is a miracle they don’t run me out of here tomorrow, just because I’m from the US! Not much I can do about it either. If the US Supreme Court can’t shut that stupid old fool Sheriff Joe up, and the voters can’t shut up Trump, I doubt I can either. Not much I can do to shut tequila chatter by drunken tourist either. Especially since I make a living selling margaritas and beer. There is one small group of gringos I might can do something about though, and those are the local ones here in my small town.
Before I rail on this small but select group though, I must point out that most of our local US ex-pats are great people, just wanting to get away from the cold and to have some fun and relax for a while. They typically own a vacation home here and come down for several weeks, to several months at a time. They are a positive thing for the community.
They don’t cause any real problems and they put money into the local economy. In fact, US ex-pats in my opinion, along with the Canadians, are far and away the most
respectful of all our foreign visitors. But like almost any group, you’ll have a few bad ones and no matter how good the others are, it is the bad ones all remember. When these
bad apples roll through town, I cringe, because I know they will once again act like the stupid, arrogant, disrespectful ugly Americans they are, and in the process, make it that
much harder for those of us who live here as year around residents and members of the community. They are typically so arrogant and thoughtless, few even know how much
their behavior crosses the lines of decent behavior, so I thought perhaps I might point it out to them since I know they read my blog. If you do not behave this way in
Mahahual, then this is not directed at you. At the same time, you’ll know who I’m talking about. For those people, I would like to introduce the old “reverse stink test”.
The biggest problem I have with this select group of part-time residents, is that they either are too stupid, or too arrogant, usually both, to recognize that they are guests in
someone else’s country and they need to behave that way. If your behavior does not pass the reverse stink test, then it is unacceptable. For example, don’t come down here and
start telling everyone what to do. Reverse stink test; if a Mexican came into your town and began to tell you how all you do is wrong and that you should do it the way they do
back in Mexico, how would you like it? Most would tell that Mexican, “Hey, if you don’t like it, go home.” Remember that is what the Mexican is thinking when you start
complaining about things you don’t like here. They seldom say that because it is not polite to say that to a foreign guest, but you can be sure they are thinking it. Nobody likes
being told what to do by an outsider who struts into town and thinks they know it all. How do you like it when you invite a guest into your home and they tell you how you
should have decorated. Remember, you are the guest, keep your opinions to yourself and your mouth shut. Mexicans don’t want to hear you criticize the way things are here!
Another problem few are those who come and hang out in the local bars every night, drinking until all hours and doing drugs they bought from the local drug dealers. I know
you are on vacation and wanting to have fun, but again, you should be able to do that and not offend the locals. Most actually do manage to do that without making a constant spectacle of themselves. For those few who just can’t seem to do that, try the reverse stink test. If a group of wealthy Mexicans came into your town, hung out for months in your bars at night, where they were the loudest person in the bar, and going into the bathroom every hour to snort cocaine they bought from the local drug dealers, how would you like that. That would stink and you know it, so therefore, it fails the stink test, and so does your behavior!
Here is what I really hate about these people. We do not have a cocaine problem in Mexico, except that we live next door to the largest coke snorters in the world. South
American poison, on its way to the US, gets smuggled through Mexico, and a small amount of it falls off along the way, and is sold mostly to the tourist who come here. That is not
a drug almost all Mexicans could afford to use, even if they wanted to. For the most part, that drug and the people who use it, are foreigners. So when these seasonal coke
heads come in and support that business, it continues to grow, adding an undesirable element to the community. When the foreign drug buyers all go back home, that undesirable element is still here and we get to live with them the rest of the year. When business is slow, they then have to go to other ways to make a living, and that usually includes breaking into houses and stealing from the local community. Stink test; how would you like it if Mexicans came into your community and started buying drugs and supporting the local drug trade?
And to those people in the bars that are drinking until all hours of the morning, acting loud and driving all over town drunk, I have to ask, why would you think it is okay to
turn someones else’s town into your own little hedonistic cantina. This is our town. We live here year round and raise families here. It is hard enough doing that, without
having to watch a bunch of drunk gringos stumbling around and treating our community like a cantina. I’m not even going to do the stink test on this, but only say, have a little
respect you dumb-ass. This is my town too, and like the Mexicans, I don’t appreciate it. Have fun, but remember, the town is not a cantina, it is our home.
There are two kinds of working gringos here. Those who work and have businesses that provide jobs for the locals, and those who steal jobs from those same locals. If you come
here for a few months to stay and want to work a little to have some fun or to make a few extra bucks, then remember, you are stealing a job from a Mexican. Mexicans can mix
drinks, they can dive, and they can certainly sell real estate. If you do these sort of things here, you are stealing a job from a Mexican that really needs it. Reverse stink test; how
do you like it when a Mexican steals a job from you in the US, and then goes home in a few months after he has had all the fun he can for one year, and in the interim, driving
local wages south with them?
If you are speaking to a Mexican in English, please try to remember, you are speaking to them in their second language, IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY! Too often, Americans
come here and get mad at a local because that person did not do what they were asked, without ever taking the time to consider that perhaps, that Mexican did not fully
understand what you were asking of them. I’ve had many, many Mexicans tell me that gringos were rude to them when all they were trying to do was help them. When I ask more about what happened, it is almost always because of a miscommunication. I understand that many do not speak Spanish, and nobody expects them to really. Mexicans are much more tolerant about foreigners who can’t speak Spanish, than US Americans are with Mexicans who come to their country and can’t speak English. But that is not the
point. The point is just don’t get mad at a Mexican who messes up because they do not speak YOUR language, in their country! Speak to them in a way they can understand
you, and there are usually no problems. If you have a problem, try to understand, it is your fault, not the Mexican.
Don’t let your desire to help come across as condescending. This is one I struggle with because there is a very fine line between trying to help people who really need it, and
creating a system of dependency that is abused by a few locals. Many Mexicans see the charity work done here as unwelcome, and gringos need to understand that. One reason is because they are very proud people, and to be offered this sort of charity is to some, an insult. Many would rather eat sand and wear rags, than take charity, especially from a foreigner. Second, many feel that the gringo charity is doing more harm than good. US Americans are fond of the old saying, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for life” and because of this, they strongly oppose most social welfare. Creating a system of dependency is what they say really happens, and sometimes I suppose that might be true. Many of the locals take the charity and even begin to expect it, and almost all of those same people could work if they chose to. The fact is though that many working locals need help, and my suggestion is that foreigners try to do that if they can. Just do it quietly, allowing the recipient to take it with dignity, and do not make a spectacle of it just so all can see how benevolent you are. Every Christmas, I get people from the cruise ships wanting to help locals, and I carefully and quietly try to match that person with a local who really needs and appreciates that help. We arrange for families to quietly meet these gift givers in my restaurant. It is usually people wanting to bring toys for kids, so we tell the parents to tell the kids that Santa gave the toys to the gringos to deliver or that the parents arranged for the gifts to be brought to them, making the parents and Santa the hero in the eyes of the kids, not the quiet gift givers. Parents are always grateful, both that their kids got something that they would not be able to provide, and that it was done in a way that saves their dignity. If you do charity, please remember, Mexicans are proud people, so taking a handout is not easy for them. Carefully select who and how you help people here and do it quietly and personal. Trust me, that doesn’t stink.
In the end, just try to run your behavior through the reverse stink test before you do it here. If you reverse the situation, and it stinks for you, then you can be sure, it stinks for the Mexican here too. Try to remember, you are a guest in this country and behave that way please. Most US people who come here seasonally do behave themselves and are
welcome and valued friends. They come here and try their very best to both enjoy themselves and even help the community, and for that, I say welcome back every time! The rest of you though, behave yourselves. The Mexicans don’t care for your rude and disrespectful behavior, not to mention, you’re making it hard on us who live here year round. Mahahual is our home, not your private cantina, so again, please don’t treat it like one.