- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- The Outsider of Latin America
There’s a certain issue that comes with living in a foreign country that isn’t where you were born.
With no family and likely no friends when you get started living there.
Where you might not fit in racially with most of the people living there
Shit, maybe you don’t even speak the language at all.
All the while you don’t have the legal right to live there necessarily.
With a different culture from what you know back home.
And you can mix all of that in with a little bit of xenophobia and racism against you by just some of the local folks.
Either way, you feel lonely at first.
Especially when you first show up.
And maybe you feel like a bit of an outsider.
Now even when you have lived here long enough…
Take it a year or so.
Maybe you started out actually quite liking the place.
In a honeymoon phase a bit like I wrote here in this article.
But then the negatives of the place outweigh the positives.
And it is no longer unique to live here.
Overtime, a bit of jadedness gets built into you.
Perhaps in part because of some of the issues above like xenophobia or racism.
Just being treated in a worse manner by some of the locals.
Like those who want to gringo tax you.
Or shit – maybe you get picked out for a mugging because you are a foreigner.
Well, that might be what you think afterwards when looking back at what happened in hindsight.
But enough of that shit…
And that honeymoon phase is over and now you have a bit of a jaded look into life down here.
With that same feeling mentioned before where you feel “like an outsider.”
Gringos often react differently to that.
Many just move back home and be done with it.
Most do actually if I think about it.
Others will actually put in their best damn effort to be like one of the locals!
As this article put out nicely here, some might call that “going Full Latino.”
Where essentially said gringo is putting his best foot forward to try and be like the locals.
To be seen as one of them.
And, more importantly, be accepted as one of the locals by the locals.
It doesn’t work but good luck to anyone who goes down that path.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have some gringos who, for some reason, refuse to leave even though it seems from an outside perspective that they quite hate the place they are in.
Or at least have a strong negative perception of the locals.
And possibly a sense of superiority that he considers himself to have relative to the locals.
Either way, it is quite clear that “being the outsider” is an aspect to living down here.
As it obviously would…
You are an outsider!
So it seems like an obvious thing to accept that one would logically assume would come with the package of living down here.
Either way, it is an issue to discuss as to how to deal with it.
I personally am cool with being “the outsider.”
I’ve always said that while I prefer living in a country like Mexico over the US….
I would take being born in the US over being born in Mexico any fucking day of the week.
The main reason why most gringos live here in the first place has to do with the low cost of living.
And I guarantee you that while you have your fair share of gringos living down here who shit on the US and Americans in general….
Almost all of them would never change their life history to be born in the Latin country that live in.
Maybe they would blow smoke up your ass and go “yes, yes, I would strongly prefer being born as a Nicaraguan over a Norwegian any day of the week!”
No you wouldn’t dumbass.
Don’t lie to me.
Or at least think for once in your life.
Because let’s consider what a typical Nicaraguan is born into…
A life where jobs are more scarce in a country with shittier quality of life…
Where you get a worse education system to grow up with…
And maybe a job that pays some low wage like 200 to 300 bucks a month or whatever.
In Mexico, while we do have jobs that pay much more than that, I have never seen a job offer outside for more than 6000 pesos or 300 bucks.
An ex girlfriend of mine will only make 1,500 a month on average as a doctor.
A friend of mine only makes 1,500 bucks a month as a computer programmer.
Jobs that would pay a shit ton more in the US.
The truth is that the average person who says something like “I’d rather be born in Bolivia than Canada” is full of shit.
They’re probably the type, as I wrote about here, who bitches all day about politics back home.
Be it bitching about Trump or Biden.
Or Ron Paul?
Living a comfortable life in x Latin country earning USD online…
Not having to deal with too much of the day to day shit the locals might have to.
Not starting a local business necessarily.
Or having been raised in the local public education system.
Or not having to live in a shitty neighborhood where there is more crime.
Making 200 to 300 bucks a month.
Most gringos down here tend to live relatively comfortable lives and can be at times dethatched from some of the locals outside the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods of Latin America.
Anyway, I digress….
Like I said, I’d always prefer being born in the US versus any Latin country any day of the week but I prefer living down here for the benefits above.
As I wrote more about in this article here.
And, like I said, I’m cool with being the outsider down here.
It comes with the package.
To complain about the negatives is fine.
To make it your life curse endlessly bitching about it while living down here is another thing.
And, to be honest, I don’t see it as a bad thing really.
It has its pros and cons like anything else.
What are those pros and cons?
Let’s break it down how I see it and you can drop any comments you have about how you see it below.
Pro 1: The Notorious Sex Tourist
That’s right Latin America….
We Fuckin yo bitches!
We fuckin yo wife….
Shit, even your grandma…
That’s right motherfucker!
We got your abuela too all over this DICCCCCCK!
Being more serious now…
The truth is that this is obviously a big part of why gringos live down here.
Not all of them – sure, sure.
But it is a huge draw for a lot of gringos.
And there is fire with that smoke!
Yeah, we do have plenty of gringos looking to fuck the women down here.
And, as I wrote here, they can have more dating and sexual success down here than up in the US.
Now I don’t want to oversell it like these gringos are all fucking 9s and 10s.
Though, with 50 dollars in hand, maybe they could.
So I’ve been told…
But, either way, it comes with the package.
By hooking up on Tinder or paying for it…
They can have more fun down here for sure on average than back home.
Again, have realistic expectations as to how much success you will have…
But it is generally speaking true.
Either way, being the outsider down here has its sexual advantages.
With more nuance that I wrote about in this article here.
Pro 2: English Latinos
Though I can find it annoying at times when a Latino wants to speak English with me…
More so if they don’t ask to practice it with me first and I don’t know them…
This can be a nice advantage to being the outsider.
In that if you speak English…
And you don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese but hang around the touristy areas…
You are probably covered.
Someone in your area probably has you covered.
Now, without local language skills, I’ll guess that you will get gringo priced in that you will be charged more than what locals would be…
But being an English speaking outsider can bring this advantage if you don’t speak the local language or maybe get tired of speaking it for a day.
Pro 3: Just Leave
I’ll keep it simple.
Tired of being the outsider?
You can’t live with it anymore?
It’s a breaking point for you?
You can just leave bro.
You won’t ever stop being the outsider anytime soon.
And the fact is that you do have the advantage in that you can just go home.
Or maybe try a new country that serves you better.
Especially if you come from a country like the US or some European countries, you probably have better freedom of movement than most Latinos would I’d imagine.
Just a better passport and all.
Pro 4: People Assuming Good Shit About you
One good thing about being the gringo outsider is you do have people who look at you in a more positive light.
Who assume maybe you are more educated or at least more interesting in general for being from another country.
So while I was talking about xenophobia and racism that you might experience as said before…
You also got some folks who just have a more positive view of foreigners in general.
Pro 5: Exploiting the Ignorance
As I said, Latinos might have pre-conceived ideas about you being the foreigner.
Many of them good.
One of those ideas is that you must have lots of money.
Now, as I wrote in the negatives, that can be a negative to a degree.
We’ll get to it later.
But you can at times exploit Latino ignorance about foreigners to your advantage.
Let’s take the money thing as an example.
As I wrote here, I’ve been able to get free shots in Latin America at bars.
The usual way to do it is to just have a Latino friend tell the person at the entrance that it is your birthday and if they have any birthday promotions.
At times, this can come with a free shot, a free beer or whatever.
Sometimes a more heavily discounted bottle.
Now, some will ask for ID but you can say you are a foreigner and so you don’t have an ID.
Some are not smart enough to think “passport?”
And if they are, just say you didn’t bring it since you were worried someone could steal it outside.
You know, being the overly cautious gringo and all, right?
Some will work with you and give you the free shot or whatever.
The last time I did this was with my last girlfriend at a bar in El Centro of Mexico City.
We ended up getting 4 free shots actually.
2 from the promoter who brought us in.
Then another 2 because I guess the waiter didn’t realize we already had 2 free ones?
Actually, I’m not sure how we convinced the waiter to get us another 2 for free but we did.
My girl at the time said to me laughing “this only works because you are a gringo.”
There’s this article here also about another gringo I know who does dumb shit to either get his deposit back or sometimes even a free month of rent.
Not recommended to do that last thing with the rent – a bit immoral but same thing.
Where you can, as a outsider that people perceive to have pockets full of gold…
Because that is my perception anyway that it seems like some folks down here really think that we just shit out gold on command.
Subsequently, the same folks might harass us for money outside…
But, nonetheless, you can exploit that ignorance to get free shit if you feel like it.
A free shot or 4 at a bar?
Not a bad idea!
Well, if you are young anyway…
Pro 6: Random New Friends!
Another benefit is that sometimes you get random new friends being the outsider!
Talk about a cure to that mentioned loneliness above…
Though, to be fair, what I’m going to say only really happens in non-touristy parts of Latin America where not too many gringos can be seen.
In a place like Barranquilla, Colombia where I spent 7 months…
I was sitting down having some steak at a restaurant when this young dude named Andres noticed my accent from another table.
He literally got up, walked over and introduced himself in English to me.
Asked if he could eat with me.
We became friends.
Quite often going out late at night around 12 to 2 AM for drinks and partying.
That has happened to me also in Guatemala and maybe one or two other countries if I can remember right.
When in Guatemala, I was sitting down again eating at an Italian/pizza restaurant when literally this old lady got up from her table and asked me where I am from.
Actually, now that I remember it, it happened once in Pachuca, Mexico also as the last time it happened to me.
Sitting down in a bar alone, some random group of Mexicans invited me over to their table and we become good friends that time.
Generally, it really is just a strong curiosity to meet a foreign person in areas where not too many foreigners are passing by.
Like I said, I’ve never had this happen to me in Mexico City.
Or Buenos Aires.
Pro 7: Spanish Pass
When in Latin America, it can get annoying when people assume you don’t speak Spanish.
That ignorance sometimes rubs me the wrong way.
However, it’s fine.
Not a big deal.
Anyway, I will say this – Latinos can generally speaking be generous with you when it comes to Spanish.
Though not always!
In my experience, the worst Latinos when it comes to this are Argentines, Uruguayans and Mexicans in general.
Mexicans because they are more likely to go full autism on my ass wanting to practice their broken ass English when I don’t even know them.
It’s cool if we are friends and know each other…
It gets annoying otherwise.
They tend to be some of the most obsessed Latinos I have met when it comes to wanting to practice English.
Though, to be fair, the issue is a lot worse in Mexico City than any other city I’ve been to in Mexico.
Not really bad at all actually in a place like Pachuca.
Just mentioning that to be fair…
But then you have the Argentines and the Uruguayans.
Who, in my experience, tend to carry a more cunt like attitude with them when it comes to foreigners speaking Spanish in my experience.
Where they are more likely to really shit all over your exact Spanish pronunciation.
Without realizing you have an accent.
When I was in Bolivia checking out Death Road as you can read about here…
There was an Argentine woman in our group who went full autism on my ass over my pronunciation of the word “sal” or salt when I asked her to pass it over across the table.
She ended up being a real cunt repeating herself in a condescending matter “sal, sal, es sal pinche puto, SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL”
Then there was a time in Uruguay…
Getting on a boat to cross the river to Argentina, the migration lady in Montevideo asked me about my exact address in Buenos Aires.
I forgot the exact street name but I think it was called Bulnes?
So let’s say I said Bulnes.
And she asked me to repeat it like 10 times while going on about how she can’t understand the word “Bulnes” from me.
Then asked me to write it down on a paper.
So I did.
Then she took one look at it and immediately started laughing in the most exaggerated manner like in this clip from Goodfellas here below.
The laugh was so ridiculous in that it was obvious she was just straight up exaggerating it and trying to over the top.
Meanwhile she then proceeded to be an absolute cunt of a person going on saying things like….
“BULNES, BUUUUUUUULNES, BUUUUUUUUUUUUULNES, SAY IT WITH ME NOW, BULNES MOTHERFUCKER!”
Suffice to say, I was really close to cussing the bitch out and telling her to go fuck herself.
“OK, bitch, let’s see how your English pronunciation is.”
“Speak any other languages bitch? Cmon, let’s see yo dumbass try to speak something else ye ignorant cunt.”
Anyway, I figured cussing her out wouldn’t do so good if I wanted to return to Argentina.
So I kept it to myself.
Good thinking probably…
But outside of people from Mexico City, Argentina and Uruguay…
You know, I guess we started with the negatives on a positive, right?
Well, it’s not that bad with most Latinos.
Most Latinos I find tend to be actually quite generous with their assessment of my Spanish.
Often quite amazed that I speak it.
Colombians in particular, in my experience (at least those from Barranquilla), are extremely nice about it.
Just over the top congratulating you on learning the language and really being friendly about it.
And most Latinos I find do tend to have an appreciation and respect for the fact that you learned Spanish.
Shit, even if you are just basic conversational, most Latinos I think would be cool with you about it and quite nice
Though, as I wrote in this article, I suspect that is different if you are a Latino Gringo instead of a non-Latino gringo.
I do find Latinos in Latin America tend to be more critical of a Latino Gringo’s Spanish ability versus that of a non-Latino Gringo’s Spanish ability.
But, overall, most Latinos can be very warm to you speaking Spanish.
Pro 8: Money Making Niches
Being the outsider can give you money niches in general that are quite nice.
In particular, you have gringos who start businesses down here to ship products from Latin America to the US.
In doing so, they might have business success in making money in a niche that most gringos don’t aim for.
Which overall can be quite nice for the outsider living down here.
Pro 9: Cost of Living
I’ve already mentioned this so I won’t go into much detail here.
But being the gringo with a low cost of living where you earn money in a strong currency but spend in pesos…
Well, that can have big advantages to your quality of life in different ways.
Just to mention that again.
Pro 10: Interesting Stories
Finally, you always have the ability to travel to other Latin countries and have interesting stories.
Given the financial benefits above and also the easier legal ability to move around with a stronger passport…
A bit related to previous points but I figured I would mention it separately to give this article “10 pros” instead of 9 since 10 is a nicer number.
But yeah it is a separate point technically.
In that you can use the legal and financial advantage to travel the world a little bit easier down here and enjoy all the memories that come with it.
But now let’s get to the negatives…
Con 1: ATM Machine
Or, as other gringos put it, being a cow.
Already mentioned before.
Like I wrote in this article here…
But basically you get tired of being the ATM machine or cow machine for the locals to aim to make money from or straight up scam.
It gets annoying over time.
Con 2: English Autists
As I said before, you have some Latinos who go full autism on your ass wanting to practice English.
As I wrote in this article here.
It gets annoying more so if you don’t know the guy and only asked him for something minor like where is the metro or some shit.
Or maybe it is a Tinder chick seeing you as an opportunity to practice.
Either way, most Latinos aren’t so obsessed to be insistent that you practice with them but some can go over the top on trying to milk the chance with every gringo they see to practice English.
Con 3: Bigger Target?
Next, as you can imagine, being the obvious outsider can be annoying sometimes when it comes to crime.
I always suspected that gringos with blonde hair and blue eyes would be obvious targets.
I’m not like that physically speaking but I imagine it can be worse for them in some environments.
Granted, in places like Argentina, less so obviously.
Though, being white down here, I don’t feel like I get targeted too much ever for being the white guy.
But I have sometimes caught folks eyeing me intensely in public and felt like they were contemplating to fuck with me or not.
And, as I wrote here, one even tried!
Con 4: Loneliness
Again, not going to dwell too much on this again.
You can get lonely down here.
Especially as your gringo friends move back home over time.
Or you move around a lot yourself from one community to the next.
And maybe you find it harder to relate to the locals in any particular area that you are new to.
Especially if you don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese.
Con 5: Cultural Differences
When I was living in Bolivia…
I took a bus ride from Cochabamba to Potosi…
Well, the bus wasn’t able to finish the trip due to a blockade of the city and we all had to get off and walk into Potosi.
It was like a 4 hour walk or something like that.
Anyway, I often asked random people I saw on the road how much longer to get to Potosi..
And every single one said 30 minutes.
It was never 30 minutes.
And other gringos I have met in Bolivia said the exact same thing.
That Bolivians, for whatever reason, either have no fucking idea how to judge time properly or they don’t want to admit they don’t know the answer to something.
In doing research months later, I concluded it was the latter.
If I can find the article on that years later, I will link to it here.
Then you have other things like Latinos showing up late to things…
And whatever else.
Ultimately, getting used to cultural differences is part of being the outsider.
But it can be annoying for sure at times.
Con 6: No Roots
Granted, some gringos make their own roots here by having families and all.
Starting a local business.
Buying a house.
Getting citizenship even.
This issue can be fixed.
Though, like I said, I feel the locals will always see you as an outsider…
Even if you live 90 years here, have a house with a full family and a local business and everything…
With great Spanish.
I’m doubtful they would ever see you as a local.
Maybe if you did all of those things and also racially fit in.
Like being white in Argentina or Chile perhaps.
But, at first, not having roots can obviously be a negative.
Nothing more to be said here for now.
Con 7: No Legal Right to Live
So many gringos live down here on tourist visas.
Live here for 6 months or however long the visa allows in whatever country….
Then leave for a day.
Come right back in for another visa.
Many are cool with it.
Either way, it is annoying to have to do the visa run.
Like I did to Guatemala from Mexico years ago.
Didn’t like it.
But comes with the territory until you get residency.
Con 8: No Local Jobs?
Granted, some gringos do get local jobs.
Or working for the US State Department or some big multinational corporation.
Most go for teaching English though when compared to the US State Department since obviously one is more competitive than the other for a job.
Either way, every gringo I know personally as of right now, opts for self-employment.
Either starting a local business or working online.
I can’t think of any on top of my head that teach English.
But some do!
And others go for other types of jobs.
I guess some go for journalism gigs down here?
Never met them…
But I heard they exist!
Anyway, it is an annoying aspect of life down here in that most of the job market isn’t for you.
Either because of the difficulties of getting employed by someone down here…
And also that the pay for most jobs down here suck so much that you really should just be self-employed in comparison.
Con 9: Local Ignorance
Locals down here can really show a bit of ignorance.
Especially among the more rural type that have no experience with gringos.
Years ago, I was with a black American dude and this local Latino assumed he was from Africa.
He tried explaining he was from the US.
The dude didn’t get it.
“The US?” he said.
Took a look at that guy.
Didn’t seem to buy it right away.
Took the conversation into it for a tiny bit longer and that was that.
In that sense, you do have some more ignorant types that seem to think all white people come from the US and that all Americans are white.
You get the same complaint from white non-Americans like Canadians, British people, etc…
Or this German guy I met in Potosi as I wrote in this article here.
Who bitched a good bit about locals assuming he was American because he was white.
Of course, I’m cool with being assumed an American – I am one!
Either way, there is ignorance in every country.
It comes with being the outsider to a new place.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a number 10 negative to equal it out.
10 positives for 10 negatives.
I’m a bit tired now as it is 5 AM as I write this.
So my memory sucks right now but I’m sure I can edit another point in later.
But you got any points yourself to make?
For the good or bad?
Or any experiences or questions to the topic?
Drop it below in the comment section.
Would love to hear from others on this topic.
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And thanks for reading.