Back when I was spending a few months working for an NGO in Cochabamba, Bolivia, I probably met the most amount of foreigners in a time period than I have up until now.
A few dozen or more literally.
Which is unique for me because, outside of my time in Colombia or Argentina, I didn’t really meet that many foreigners.
And, even then, my time in Colombia or Argentina didn’t involve an introduction to that many foreigners either.
Still, in my days traveling around South America, there were moments where I would notice something peculiar about some of the foreigners I met.
Especially in hindsight when I think back on it.
Which is that, truth be told, some of them didn’t feel like they were “wired right” so to speak.
That something in the mechanics of their brain was wired differently than most folks.
Which isn’t to say they were bad people.
Just that they were a little more eccentric.
Let’s go into some brief examples.
John the Aspiring Engineer
As I wrote here, I met a guy named John in Cochabamba of Bolivia.
Now John was more or less my age.
He had just graduated college and was spending a summer in Bolivia before joining the work force to be an engineer.
All around, John was a very nice guy.
Still, there was something about John that was a bit off.
He wasn’t the most “social” guy you can imagine.
A bit more introverted at parties and a bit socially awkward all around.
Relative to other gringos we are going to mention, you can say that John is actually normal but just socially awkward.
Seemingly lacking in social skills for whatever reason.
That’s just the way he was.
Frank the Ultimate Indigenous Person
Next, we have Frank.
The white non-Latino gringo who literally dresses like he is a local indigenous person, sometimes throws at you words in Quechua or Aymara and whatever the fuck else.
Maybe listens to indigenous sounding music like this bit from the Scarface sound track.
Which, funny enough, that music is actually relevant since that scene where the music was used was based in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Where I met Frank.
And, as I said, it seemed like Frank was trying to be something that he wasn’t.
Like he a real identity crisis or something.
And he was a lot more socially awkward than John was.
He made John actually look like some super extroverted gringo who is the life at parties.
Similar to John, you could tell that something wasn’t “connecting right” inside his head.
But that “lack of connection” was a lot more noticeable.
Jeffrey the Sex Tourist
Next, we have Jeffrey the Sex Tourist.
Literally the shining stereotype of what a sex tourist is.
Made sex jokes all the time regardless of context.
Seemingly only in the country to drink excessive amounts of liquor and fuck prostitutes all day.
As you can read here, I met Jeffrey in a Guatemalan city called Xela.
We were both regulars at the same café and happened to both sit in the same couch area they had on the side of the room.
With Jeffrey, he was one of those types who would also tell you about his days “in Intelligence” working for whatever alphabet agency it happened to be.
And other crazy stories that you are quite sure are not true.
But they make for good stories so who doesn’t like that?
In short, Jeffrey might’ve been a nobody back home in Wisconsin…
But, down here, he is a former NSA agent who helped kick OSAMA BIN LADEN’S ASS!
The fuck did you do today, chico?
And between his stories of working for the intelligence and navy…
He also would throw in all the time comments about “wanting to fuck that girl there” loud enough for anyone who spoke English to hear.
Suffice to say, there was something “off” about Jeffrey.
Peter the Activist in Chiapas
Next, we have Peter the activist.
As you can read here, I met Peter because he happened to be the gringo guide who could take us into this indigenous village area of a movement called the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico.
Now Peter had been a bit of an activist in this area helping bring in funds to build stuff for the local communities.
And has spent decades in this area.
All around, he’s not at all a creepy motherfucker.
Nothing like Jeffrey.
And, though he actually hangs out with indigenous people, he isn’t running around in indigenous costume pretending to be them.
He simply does a lot of good work.
But the area he has worked in hasn’t always been the safest.
Plenty of violence in the area.
Actions taken by the Mexican government.
He even has been deported from Mexico for his activities.
Nonetheless, he has some stories.
And when I was talking with him, though he seems like a nice guy, you could tell that not “everything was there.”
He was a little bit different than your average gringo sipping mojitos at a resort in Cancun.
Suffice to say, I do believe that years of experience down here in Latin America does “change you” in certain ways.
And in the case of Peter, given the experiences he has been in that your average gringo won’t ever experience, you could argue that maybe the effect is a little more notable.
Running from Crime
This is a bit of a stereotype, isn’t it?
I’ve been asked before from people back home who have learned that I left to Latin America…
Folks would ask “so what alphabet agency are you running from?”
Running from Jeffrey, obviously!!!
Anyway, jokes aside, I did meet one American down here who seemingly was “on the run.”
Was he really on the run though or was it bullshit?
Bullshit like Jeffrey working for the NSA?
As I said, in Latin America, you are more than free to reinvent yourself because nobody down here knows WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE!
So be anything!
Be a firefighter!
Be an alien fighting astronaut!
Be the guy who shot JFK!
Tell us that story about how you worked for Castro in the 60s and 70s giving him INSIDE INFO on the latest CIA plot to assassinate him.
Go hog wild!
Anyway, when I was in Bogota of Colombia, I went to a bar and met someone who claimed to be on the run.
I forgot the guy’s name because I only met him once that night.
But he happened to be at the bar I went to and made small talk with me.
In his words, he was “wanted for killing a man who attacked him after catching him fucking his wife.”
So true story?
You be the judge.
In the end, the guy was pretty socially awkward.
And, like others, you could feel that “something wasn’t there” mentally with the motherfucker.
Here’s a video anyway of “gringos on the run” in Mexico since we are on this topic.
Overall, it’s an observation that some gringos will have over enough time here.
There is this idea that gringos who live in Latin America were “losers back home” and that is why they are weird or socially awkward or “not all there” when you meet them down here.
Truthfully, I think that’s a bit of a stereotype and not true for all gringos even though some were losers back home for sure!
Still, it touches that topic of what drives a person to want to be an expat in Latin America?
And some folks theorize that, for some of these expats, they might have had a rough childhood!
And it fucked them up socially and drove them to be down here.
You know, I can see it.
I don’t like to say that I had a “rough childhood” but there were things about it that were very weird at home.
Though how I ended up in Latin America has other influences that brought me down here long term also.
So it wasn’t just that.
Either way, is there something about me then that isn’t “wired not right?”
Of course not!
I might be the craziest gringo out there…
But my wires are all 100%!
Whatever that means.
But I got good wires, damn it!
They come from Home Depot!
Joking aside, I think there is a little bit of smoke behind the fire on this one in terms of this type of gringo existing.
The one who isn’t “wired perfectly.”
But who is?
At any rate, it’s just a small observation.
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Thanks for reading.