All you need to know about Iberian America

The Latino Bewilderment of Gringos Living in Latin America

Published April 1, 2021 in Personal Stories & Opinions - 0 Comments

Back when I was living in Pedregal de Santo Domingo in Mexico City…

As you can read more about here.

I walked outside of my room to go cook something in the kitchen.

It was probably late into the night at around 4 AM more or less.

When the door upstairs opened.

A skinny Mexican guy who looked quite young in his 20s or so walked down the stairs.

I never met him before so he was probably new to the building.

Anyway, we waved at each other and he walked over to introduce himself.

I forgot his name but let’s call him Manuel.

Anyway, Manuel had just gotten back from a party and was going to bed.

And was curious at who I was and all.

Funny enough, the dude even asked me “de que parte de Mexico eres?”

Which I only remember because it is one of the few times in my life where a local has confused me for another local.

“Yes, I finally fit in with the locals!”

Though, to be fair, that mostly happened when I was in Argentina as their population is notably whiter.

Anyway, I explained that I’m from the US and he seemed surprised.

We carried the conversation from there as he took quite an interest in me at that point.

Being confused in general as to what the hell am I doing in Mexico.

Especially in that neighbourhood we were in as it wasn’t touristy at all.

And I explained that I simply live in Mexico.

Have 4 years living here and I work from home.

And he just didn’t understand why I would move from the US to Mexico.

“But there’s more money up there, no?” he asked in Spanish.

And I explained how there are plenty of gringos who live down here – many of them for financial reasons as it can’t be cheaper for us to live here than back home.

Still, he seemed a little bit confused as he said that jobs though pay much better up there than down here.

Which is true to be fair.

Arguably, I feel plenty of expats actually would make more money in the US than down here relative to the cost of living if they took up a kick ass job that paid well.

Go into an industry with good opportunities and all.

Though, to be fair, you have plenty of folks who argue there is more money to be made online but I’ll leave that discussion to the side for now.

Anyway, he seemed like a pretty chill dude and we got along while I was there.

But, to him, it seemed crazy how a gringo could conclude that life in Mexico would be better than life back home.

Though he’s not the only one like that.

“But When Are Going Back Home?”

Well over a year before that conversation in Pedregal de Santo Domingo…

I was living near Cuatro Caminos of Mexico City.

As you can read more about here.

Anyway, I was sitting down at a Starbucks in the shopping mall area that is above the metro Cuatro Caminos.

They had a really cute barista chick who took a genuine interest in getting my name right.

As sometimes locals can have a slight difficulty in pronouncing Matt right if you don’t pronounce the double T hard.

And this Starbucks was quite nice.

For some reason, they always played Bossa Nova when I was there.

A type of Brazilian jazz music that I like.

As I wrote in this article, it’s one of the things I really like about Latin America…

Latin jazz music.

Anyway, I’m sitting down listening to whatever song they have playing and just relaxing by myself.

When this older gentleman sits down in the chair in front of me.

He could’ve been in his mid 40s or whatever.

Something like that.

And we got talking.

Apparently, he is a Mexican who crossed illegally into the US to work some job up there.

I think in construction but I forgot.

In some southern state like Tennessee or Georgia but I can’t remember exactly as of right now.

Anyway, he got deported and that was that.

And he was asking me in Spanish “what are you doing here in Mexico?”

I explained that I work from home and that I live here in Mexico.

“ahh….vives en Mexico?” he asks.

“Si.” I responded.

“Pero cuando vas a volver a EUA?” he asked.

“No, no, vivo aquí en Mexico.” I answered.

“Si, pero cuanto tiempo mas tienes en Mexico?” he asked again.

And so during this conversation, he was basically trying to get to the point of when I am going to return to the US.

Like leave Mexico forever and be back in my home country.

To which I was trying to explain to him that I live here.

Subsequently, I responded “Tengo residencia aqui”

Which is bullshit.

I don’t have residency in Mexico but I figured that might convince him that I have no plans of going back home for the time being.

Though residency would be something I would like to pursue one day as I wrote here.

Either way, I figured saying that I have residency would get the point home to him that I plan on living here longer with no attention of returning to the US.

And he responded something like “ah…ok…entiendo, entiendo….pero vas a volver a EUA o no?”

I’m paraphrasing the conversation because I don’t remember exactly how it went down after all this time.

But the point is that it felt like to me that he had a hard time believing that I would want to keep living in Mexico without having an end game for returning to the US.

Either way, maybe he understood what I meant in the end of it all.

But the conversation ended as I had to get going to meet someone and that was it.

Though wasn’t the last time I met someone like that.

The House Party in Pachuca

Finally, there is another example I can think of very briefly.

Where I went to a house party in Pachuca, Mexico with a girlfriend of mine at the time.

The house was located in a very nice part of the city in some gated community.

Where we had to pass through like two security points to get inside

And the houses were some of the nicest I had ever seen anywhere in Mexico.

Anyway, we get inside the house and everyone was very friendly.

It was a very nice party.

Either way, there was the guy who hosted the party.

If I remember right, I think his name was Bryan or something like that.

It was either Bryan or Kevin but I’m pretty sure it was Bryan.

He was a very friendly white Mexican guy who got talking with me about the US.

And was talking on and on about how he loves the US.

“I love the Cubs!” was one thing I remember him saying.

Moving on, he ended up asking what am I doing in Mexico.

And it’s the same thing from before but not as dramatic.

More like the first example I brought up way above.

In which the guy was asking why I live in Mexico and so on…

And generally seemed surprised that I like Mexico and would prefer living here.

But he understood what I meant when I said that I live in Mexico with no plans on returning.

He understood that part.

Just didn’t get though why I would choose to live in Mexico than the US.

As he went on about how “the US is amazing! Such a great country! I love when my family takes vacation there!”

He talked about how he liked the US so much briefly that you would swear he was the official Ambassador for the US in Mexico.

At some point, it would’ve been fair to ask him if he happens to work in the Embassy.

Now maybe the guy was just kissing my ass…

Though maybe he also has a genuine interest to move out of Mexico and have a life up in the US.

Maybe.

Either way, he nodded away when I explained what I like about Mexico and why I live here.

And that was that.

Nonetheless, it was still a learning moment for him to listen to the reasons for why a gringo from the US would choose to live in Mexico.

Something that seemed foreign to him to a degree.

But all of these examples above point to one common theme I want to touch on.

The Latino Bewilderment

At the end of the day, you’re going to eventually find some Latino down here who just seems confused as to why you live here.

That’s just the way it is.

You have poorer folks – perhaps those who literally got deported after traveling far into the US – that can’t understand it.

Imagine you cross the border illegally for a better life up there and someone from there tells you “nah bro, Mexico is so much nicer.”

To maybe talking with an upper class Mexican who maybe looks down on his country to a degree and see the US as a better place to be.

And whoever else you get talking with…

Now, to be fair, I feel plenty of other locals do get it right away why you live here.

When you explain the exchange rate with the USD – sometimes that makes it much more understandable as plenty of people get the value of the USD down here.

Plus, you have folks who live in certain parts of Latin America where gringo expats are much more common.

For example, I never saw any gringos near Cuatro Caminos or Pedregal de Santo Domingo.

And very rarely saw one in Pachuca.

But if I went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico or Cuenca, Ecuador…

Well, I can see how more of the locals would get it.

So location matters.

And perhaps some of the locals have stereotypes in their head about why you live here.

Ideas like “you are a sex tourist” or “you couldn’t quite make it in your own country.”

Either way, you get the idea of what I mean.

Not everyone is so bewildered.

Some are.

Many aren’t and don’t care about you.

And others have pre conceived notions about it.

At any rate, that’s all I got to say.

If you have any comments or questions, drop them below.

And follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,

Matt

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