I don’t have much experience knocking on doors in Latin America.
It’s such a small aspect to life down here but something to mention, isn’t it?
Back when I was living in Barranquilla, Colombia, I remember having a Colombian girlfriend named Marcela whose family lived on the south side of the city.
Whenever I was hanging out around there, I remember how casual everyone was with the door!
Where a neighbor could just walk on by and yell inside “OYE!! COMO ESTA?!?”
In which somebody would answer.
In most cases, the family of Marcela didn’t even lock the door to their home.
So anyone, during the normal day hours, would just open the door and yell inside.
That’s in direct contrast to my time living back in the US be it small town Iowa or small town Ohio.
In which you’d typically see doors locked and people not always answering the door even if they are home.
Simply put, I think it’s generally more fair to say that people back in the US are a little more likely to not answer the door if they’re not expecting anyone.
Hell, even I’m like that!
Just a day or two ago, someone was knocking on the door in the new apartment where I lived while I was eating lunch.
Did I answer?
I’m eating, faggot.
I ain’t answering.
If you want something, text me first before you come knocking.
And if the Aztec and Catholic gods bless you, maybe I’ll answer if you are worthy enough.
So I kept on eating my beef flautas!
Still, in normal circumstances, I would just assume that the difference between myself and my ex-girlfriend from Colombia is just cultural.
You know right?
In which, as you can read here, people assume naturally that us gringos are just “cold” and Latinos are just “warm.”
And maybe that somehow extends to how people answer doors?
Though, as I said, I don’t have much experience knocking on hundreds of doors down here across all of Latin America in every country to verify how open people are to strangers coming up to the door.
But I did get some experience recently to make me think otherwise!
Knocking on Doors in Pedregal
About 2 weeks ago, I was walking around a part of Mexico City called Pedregal de Santo Domingo.
Let’s just call it Pedregal because I’m too lazy to type all that shit out.
Anyway, as I was walking around looking for apartments, it wasn’t uncommon for places to have signs saying “knock if you want a place for rent!”
With no number on the sign so I would have to knock to check the place out NOW.
During my search for a place, I’d have to knock quite a bit as quite a few signs didn’t have any number to text later.
And one place was very typical of the contrast to Marcela’s parents.
Where, on the main street of Pedregal, I walk up to some metal door to knock.
Give it a minute.
And someone comes up to say “SI?!?!”
I wasn’t sure I heard right given all the noise outside.
And a follow up “QUIEN ES?!?!?” came soon enough.
Meaning “WHO IS IT?!?!”? in English.
That wasn’t uncommon.
While knocking on doors, quite a few folks wouldn’t answer the door but would stand outside it yelling out “QUIEN ES?!!?”
And, once hearing my gringo accent asking about their advertised apartment, would open the door.
In this case, the dude in question opened the door to talk with me.
But he mentioned how the actual dude who rents the place is away from Mexico City until next Monday.
So I never checked it out.
Still, he gave me the details – about 1,800 pesos per month or 90 bucks a month for rent.
But the landlord wasn’t there so I wasn’t able to check it out.
And his way of answering the door wasn’t unusual.
Quite a few folks in Pedregal answered the door “QUIEN ES?!?” before opening the door.
There was one chick who opened the door to show me her place above the stairs.
Among others who answered “QUIEN ES?!?”
obviously, it was all in direct contrast to the doors of typical hood of Barranquilla.
There’s a few things that come with these stories.
First, it won’t be unusual if someone won’t open the door for you when you come knocking on doors in Latin America.
Instead, you might get a “QUIEN ES?!?” first.
Second, the two examples from Barranquilla to Mexico City illustrate well enough how any discussion of trends in Latin America depend heavily on what part of Latin America you are in.
Like I said, some folks think every Latino is so “warm and open” down here.
Maybe they spent too much time in Barranquilla?
Then they check out other spots and it’s not too warm and nice.
Obviously, not all of Latin America is the same and the context you find yourself in will vary heavily by where you are.
Third, maybe neighborhood and time matter?
Granted, in talks of neighborhood, neither area from Quilla to Mexico City was well regarded.
Pedregal isn’t seen as very safe nor was the area Marcela was from.
But, after years in Mexico City, I don’t see as many folks answering at the door with “QUIEN ES?!?!?””
Which might explain why I felt that was different compared to other areas I’ve been to in this city.
Obviously, there are not only differences between various parts of Latin America (Quilla to Mexico City) but also various parts of every city.
And how, in this case anyway, the more sketchy parts of Mexico City might invoke the typical resident there to respond with “QUEIN ES?!?” when compared to the typical resident of nicer areas of Polanco.
Granted, in Polanco, they’re probably more likely anyway on average to have nicer tech like a speaker at the door to respond to anyone showing up unexpectedly.
On that note, obviously the time at which you come knocking will deliver a different door response also.
Fourth, in answering the door, just know that “QUIEN?!?” or “QUIEN ES?!?!” might be the response after knocking.
Finally, above all else, I guess the main point here is to really demonstrate how not all Latinos are as warm as everyone assumes (depending on the context) and also to discuss how people answer the door down here.
From Colombia to Mexico.
Obviously, those two countries don’t represent how every single Latino answers the door down here in every country of Latin America.
Simply to illustrate what might be common in your experience.
A small topic regarding how folks answer the door really but a topic nonetheless in relevance to life down here.
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Thanks for reading.