- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- The Only Gringo in Town
Back when I was in Iowa before moving to Mexico some odd years ago..
I parked the truck in front of this gas station before getting home to buy some tea and all.
While waiting in line, this guy in front of me said something about how he had a kid going to Mexico for a bit.
Anyway, the younger guy behind the cash register seemed alarmed about the possibility of going to Mexico…
“Oh not Mexico, anywhere but Mexico….they’ll be waiting for you at the airport gate jockeying in position to rape and murder you!”
OK, OK, he said something like that since my memory is a bit weak and it has been some odd years since then.
But what he said was basically that and the concern behind the statement was as intense.
For some reason, the dude felt that going to Mexico was a one way ticket to getting ass raped and slaughtered by a “bunch of communist, aids-infected, zika-infected, ebola-infected, radical Islamic sombrero wearing taco eating heroin addicted meth addicted crack addicted pitbulls.”
Or something like that, you know?
But that is a sentiment I have heard from some folks back home in Iowa and Ohio also where a walk outside around down here will get you fucked up.
Especially if you are the “only white guy” in town.
Which is funny since there are plenty of white tourists and white Latinos around these parts.
But there is a racial element I think to it as the scenario where you are the only white guy in town must mean that you are going to get fucked up.
Which isn’t necessarily true as I’ve been to parts of Latin America where white folks aren’t as common as a place like Mexico City.
But taking into account the racial and nationality aspects to all of this…
What is it like then “being the only white guy in town.”
Or “being the only gringo in town.”
When you stumble into an area where basically, from the looks of it, doesn’t seem like any other gringos or white people are in the area.
Because while being a white guy in a place like Roma isn’t unusual as we have plenty of white tourists and white local Latinos by these parts…
I have been to parts of Latin America as the “only white guy” or “only gringo” in town.
The stories I have of myself and others I know are not really that newsworthy.
But I figured I will include them here as this topic does sometimes, once in a while, get brought up by folks back home.
So let’s get to it.
Back when I lived near Metro CU of Mexico City, I happened to be the only gringo I ever saw there.
Granted, when I got my haircut by some really nice lady, she told me that “tenemos extrajeros aqui!”
Meaning “we have foreigners here!”
I asked her who.
“Pues, tenemos colombianos, peruanos, etc.”
Meaning we have Colombians, Peruvians, etc in the area!
Well, that’s not really the same thing as other foreigners like from the US or Canada.
Truth is, I never saw any other foreigners from my neck of the woods in that area.
Though I did see other white local Latinos there since Mexico has an alright share of white Latinos.
Either way, I remember walking down the street one time as they always had this huge market outside every week selling whatever you can imagine out in the open.
I asked one guy how much for his bottle of shampoo and he said 80 pesos or 4 bucks.
I walked over the next street over and found someone who sold me it for like 35 pesos.
Those prices are not exact since this happened a while ago but they are rough guesses as to the pricing difference.
Even though both bottles were not really that different.
Same thing can happen elsewhere.
Though, to be fair, I feel “gringo pricing” is much worse in touristy areas.
Like El Centro of CDMX.
I don’t like that area for various reasons.
But one is how aggressive the street hustlers are in selling a fucking balloon for “20 dollas gringo!!!”
Even though you didn’t ask for one…
But harass you they will.
Furthermore, areas of Latin America that have less white people than Mexico City…
Like Guatemala for example or Bolivia?
In my experience, both countries really don’t have that many white people at all whatsoever.
In that case, you do stick out a bit more in areas with no tourists.
Subsequently, you have more people looking to fuck you over more aggressively.
One time while sitting on a bus in Guatemala…
I got off as the bus took a few minutes to stop somewhere…
Looking for bottles of water.
This one old lady was standing in front of the table I was looking at and literally knocked over a bottle of shampoo water in front of me to the ground.
Then accused me of knocking it over and demanding money.
Like did she really think she was going to get free money like that?
She knocked it over right in front of my eyes!
So, in areas that are extremely non white (touristy or not touristy), I find you can be a bigger target for people trying to scam you or overcharge you.
In areas that are very touristy (no matter the demographics of the area), then you can expect some of that also.
Next up you have the staring factor.
A few days ago, a friend of mine named Bryan was telling me how he is getting tired of living in a part of Mexico City.
I think it is near Metro La Viga?
Or somewhere like that.
Anyway, he was telling me how he doesn’t see too many other white people there and is stared at quite often by local guys.
In his words, he says that it is mostly of curiosity by folks wondering what the hell is he doing there.
Nothing aggressive like that.
Now, I have been near Metro La Viga but I don’t know the area well.
But I’ve been to other parts of Mexico City that are a bit more dangerous than that and never noticed feeling out of place.
But his point is solid that places like Condesa are much whiter for sure.
When it comes to staring in my situation?
I’ve never noticed too much of an issue with staring by people who are curious about me.
It can happen though but not often in an aggressive way.
But it can happen.
To keep it short, it either happens by young short men down here who want to win a staring contest because they are insecure of their manhood…
Or by local women in non-touristy areas who are curious about the white guy in town.
But when thinking of my time in more indigenous countries like Guatemala or Bolivia…
I never got stared much at all from what I can remember for being the only white guy in town.
Do the homeless harass you more in areas with less white people and less touristy?
In places like Bolivia or Guatemala, I’d say no.
Where you really have a lot less local white people in general.
Again, touristy areas really take the cake here when it comes to people harassing you for money.
In large part because those areas attract more of that crowd since they know more white tourists and local rich Latinos live there.
Outside of those areas, you come across more normal Latinos in the street who aren’t desperate enough to be begging for every person they see.
You might notice more drug use by the homeless though outside of touristy areas…
But, in my experience, they almost always leave you alone.
Except one time near Metro CU of Mexico City where this one skinny ass dude early in the morning at around 8 AM followed me down the street asking if he can help me carry my two small bags of chips to my place.
“Help me” being code word for “are you retarded enough to give me one of them so I can run off with it?”
Anyway, like I said, areas that are whiter and more touristy tend to be worse for getting harassed in my experience.
The one time I ever got robbed by the cops anywhere in Mexico City was in a non-touristy areas called Cuatro Caminos.
You can find out more details by reading this article here.
Either way, I don’t think I got targeted for being the only white guy in town.
I simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That was it.
Stepped outside of my door of my apartment where a hungry cop was at the very end of the street.
But I’ve heard of cops robbing foreigners and locals in other parts of the city as well in touristy areas like Condesa.
As you can see in this story below here.
So are you more of a target by hungry cops if you are the only white guy in town?
Well, if the area is dangerous, I could see it actually.
Especially if you are literally the only white guy in town and you do stupid shit outside to draw attention to yourself.
But if the area is normal, then it should be fine.
And if the area is normal…
I’d almost argue that the touristy areas could be worse as I’d imagine cops looking for gringos to rob would hang around there more instead since they would naturally assume more gringos would be there
Going back to the story in the beginning of this article…
We know now going to Mexico or Colombia or Bolivia or Guatemala isn’t going to get you stabbed in the kidney the second you get off the plane…
But what about when you step into areas being the only white gringo in town?
Again, get over yourself.
Most locals in non-touristy areas aren’t going to grab a knife and run at you the second they see the first white person they’ve seen in a while.
It doesn’t happen.
Now, if you are in a dangerous area, you might be a target of a crime.
Especially if you walk around late at night.
But then again that comes with being outside at night in a dangerous area, right?
Not because you are the only white guy in town.
But being the only white guy in town in a area like that would put a bigger target on your back if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings and do stupid shit with no common sense.
So there is that.
Latinos Wanting to Be Your Friend
Finally, sometimes being the lone white guy in town can also have its benefits.
As I said before, people can be generally more interested in you for being the lone white guy in town.
For reasons that are not hostile whatsoever.
And you have others who approach you and ask you questions about your life, what are you doing in the country, etc.
So you can have friendly conversations and even friendships that arise from being the lone gringo in town.
I think it’s a bit overhyped by folks back home about how you can get fucked up for being the only gringo or the only white guy in town.
Again – have common sense, don’t do stupid shit and don’t hang around dangerous areas
But you can go to areas that don’t have too many white people (local or foreign) and that are not touristy and be totally fine.
I got friends like that right now like Bryan above.
Funny thing is that even gringos who have time down here think like this sometimes.
I remember one time on a Facebook page for foreigners in Mexico City…
One dude asked something like “any point going outside of Roma or Condesa? Like really? Aren’t they dangerous or some shit?”
And this was a guy who apparently spent a few years here.
He never realized neighborhoods outside of Roma and Condesa exist!
Kinda stupid in my opinion.
Anyway, you will be fine being the only white guy in town.
Again, it’s not much of a topic.
I only brought it up because this belief does exist among some folks out there.
Rest assured – you’ll be OK going into non-touristy areas where you are one of or one of the few white guys in town.
Either way, got any relevant experiences or questions?
Drop them below in the comments.
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Thanks for reading.