Let it be known on this day of October 12, 2021.
That I have seen “the real Latin America.”
The parts never explored.
Never set food on by humanity.
I have risen above all of the fake travelers to Latin America who have not seen what I have seen.
While they stay all comfy in their luxury apartments of Polanco, I ventured into territory never seen by the civilized man before.
Traversing through paths never set foot on before, I found myself in the deadliest neighborhoods of Mexico City.
Where people get shot at every day.
Having to jump over dead bodies every few minutes.
Where the locals fuck their cousins even!
And then, after sex, they often find that there’s no running water left in the building.
With whom you stand next to shoulder to shoulder eating street food that’ll guarantee immense sickness.
While an earthquake is interrupting your lunch….
And you find yourself dodging falling concrete that is smashing innocent people left and right.
Once the destruction is over though and the dust settles…
You stand among it all.
And similar to the Joker scene here, you notice some blood on your mouth and make a smile.
For you have found heaven.
You have found the Real Latin America.
Bienvenidos, Sr. Gringo.
The Real Latin America
What is the “Real Latin America?”
Is there a “Fake Latin America” then?
Well, according to some gringos, that is all true!
The fake and the real exist apparently.
This type of gringo insisting on how some parts of Latin America are “not real.”
For example, I remember when I lived in Roma Norte in my first year of Mexico City.
And there was this German dude who was living in the apartment building that you can read about here.
He wasn’t the most socially smart individual and was sometimes intense.
Still, we talked every once in a blue moon.
And I remember him telling me that he is thinking of leaving Roma Norte to see “the real Mexico.”
In which Roma Norte (a fairly touristy area) is not “the real Mexico.”
It’s fake Mexico!
Move to some less touristy city that had no gringos in it.
I have no idea where he went but that was his plan going forward.
And I have met the occasional person here and there say something similar.
When I worked in Guatemala, the Dutch leader of the NGO that I worked for made similar remarks about the neighborhood we lived in.
Here’s a picture of it.
It wasn’t the nicest looking neighborhood for sure.
Had plenty of poverty and all that.
And she said to me at one point about how “we’re doing work in the real Guatemala.”
In which she elaborated on that about how you have other foreigners who come to Guatemala but they only check out the ruins in the northern part of the country or other very touristy sites.
Those touristy sites aren’t the real Guatemala!
They aren’t even GuateBUENA!
What are they?
Hell yeah, bitch! You heard right!
Haha jaja haha jaja….
And so, to this chick, we were seeing “the real Guatemala” because we were in some non-touristy area.
This is, above all, a certain attitude you see among some folks.
And, to be honest, I get the reasoning behind their words but I don’t always agree with everything else they say when they use the expression “real x Latin country.”
Let me explain with all the thoughts that come to mind.
Is the Touristy Bad?
First off, let’s just be real here.
Your typical tourist going to Cancun or Tikal of Guatemala has limited funds and time.
Why the fuck would you expect someone who has worked a decade to get limited vacation time to visit some shithole neighborhood?
Because, if we’re being honest, that neighborhood in Guatemala was a bit of a shithole.
The people there are nice but it’s not a nice neighborhood.
You can’t expect your typical tourist to go there.
And even if said foreigner was going to spend a significant time down here like a year or more…
Should they then check out other non-touristy areas?
Well, being who I am, I’d encourage them to do so!
But I only say that because I do personally enjoy visiting non-touristy areas for different reasons.
The small towns and less visited neighborhoods.
But I don’t see those areas as being anymore “real” than the touristy areas necessarily.
In some sense, maybe you could argue that?
Because those areas do have a better “presentation” so to speak?
For example, when I was reading the Mexican Reader years ago, I remember a piece in the book about how the homeless were cleaned up from some popular beach area of Mexico so tourists wouldn’t see that.
In a sense, you are hiding then a “real” aspect to Mexican society that is widespread.
However, just because the bad isn’t as much in your face doesn’t mean that part of Mexico or Latin America isn’t “real.”
And, as I implied before, why would your typical tourist want to see homeless people on their one week vacation?
If we’re just being honest!
Should said tourist go up to a random homeless person in Nicaragua, have a 5 minute conversation with him and then run away yelling “YESSS!!!! I SAW THE REAL NICARAGUA!!!”
Like fuck off.
Anyway, while said gringo isn’t seeing necessarily the more negative aspects to society, that doesn’t mean he isn’t experiencing anything that isn’t real.
On top of that, if he’s happy only living in El Centro of CDMX or a resort in Cancun, then who cares?
If he’s happy, he’s happy.
Motherfucker doesn’t need to do poverty tourism to “see the real Mexico” or “the real Latin America.”
Which brings us to the next point.
If we’re being honest, I feel some of these folks who say this are basically poverty tourists.
Not necessarily the Dutch chick above because I feel she genuinely was motivated by the work she did.
However, you do have that type of foreigner who ventures into the favelas of Rio de Janeiro with Youtube video titles like “I went into THE MOST DANGEROUS HOOD of Brazil….AND I SURVIVED!”
Like bitch – you were only there for an hour and probably only stayed on the most commercial streets in broad daylight.
Stop trying to pretend you some real gangsta that’s about to spit out an album better than this album from nas here.
Granted, I don’t have anything against those who go to those neighborhoods.
I’ve lived also in some less nicer neighborhoods also.
But there’s an element of inauthenticity that comes with these folks.
Still, let’s move on.
Copacabana isn’t Real?
I touched on this already in the first point but I wanted to make it it’s own section.
Which is my belief that touristy areas like Copacabana of Bolivia are real also.
Or Cancun of Mexico.
Or Ipanema of Brazil.
Patagonia of South America?
Whatever it might be!
It’s all real, damn it!
There was a video I checked out recently where some dude claimed that the Brazilian city of São Paulo isn’t “real Brazil.”
Why the fuck not?
So many Brazilians live there.
Which is one thing to mention – if a lot of the locals LIVE there, then how is it not a real part of Latin America?
It’s real for them!
They live normal lives in those cities.
Taking care of their kids, commuting to work, drinking in the local bar, etc.
Part of the reason for why some might not see these spots as being “real enough” is also perhaps stemming from preconceived stereotypes they hold.
“I Thought Latin America Was Like Syria!”
This is part of the issue.
Some of these folks who say this have certain preconceived notions about Latin America where they think the entire region is a shithole with violence, narco crime and whatever the fuck else.
On top of that, they might hold certain cultural stereotypes that they expect to see.
For the dude going to Brazil, it might seem that São Paulo isn’t “real enough” if he isn’t seeing Brazilians dancing and singing to bossa nova on every street 24/7.
If this was Mexico, he’d maybe expect to see Mexicans dancing and singing to mariachi 24/7.
For Peru? Not sure what music would be fitting here but we at least need the alpacas for it to be “the real Peru!”
No alpacas? Not real enough, god damn it!
And so regardless of the stereotypes being more focused on the “third worldness” or the cultural bits…
If said gringo finds whatever part of Latin America isn’t fitting either one, he finds it “not real enough.”
But I also believe there’s another motivation at work here behind this mindset that I implied in the introduction to this article.
Gone Where No Other Gringo Has Gone Before!
I call this the “Columbus effect.”
Where said gringo has been too busy sitting at home drinking mojitos all day imagining himself to be literally Christopher Columbus.
Going to parts of the world never seen before by the civilized man!
Similarly, you have some gringos who can’t stop reminding you about how much time they’ve spent in Latin America.
The superiority by time?
And, as I said before, the superiority by experience.
Of course, getting Machu Picchu and Cancun is on every gringo’s wishlist.
Everyone has done that!
Surface level introduction to Latin America.
But what if you want to be better and more experienced than those gringos?
Then go to your local favela!
Shake hands with the local criminal who you claim is a “narco” for your Youtube video but is actually just some dude selling stolen clothing by the corner.
Get on a bus and record people commuting to work as you say to your viewers “omg, I can’t believe this is how people travel to work! The bus ride is so third world.”
Meanwhile there’s probably some 20 year old dude standing behind you glaring at you as he feels like a zoo animal for your video…
And eat those street tacos that you’ll worry will give you AIDs but probably nothing worse than diarrhoea if your immune system is shit.
Among whatever else!
And while your friends and family back home scratch their heads at why you are there…
With the locals looking at you like “what the fuck? Are we getting gentrified today?”
You can proudly go back to your apartment in Polanco, beat your chest, and look at yourself in the mirror proclaiming proudly “I have seen THE REAL Mexico!”
In which you shall forever feel superior to other gringos because you believe you have seen neighborhoods that NO OTHER GRINGO has ever seen before!
Despite a few probably living in those neighborhoods like me at a few points oddly enough…
And you’ll find yourself standing in the corner of parties thinking alone “they don’t know that I’ve seen THE REAL Mexico….”
Life goes on.
Honestly, my biggest opinion of it all is that it doesn’t fucking matter if you choose to live in only touristy areas or non-touristy areas.
And obviously not all non-touristy areas are shitholes.
As a side point, whenever a gringo says that no other good neighborhoods exist outside the touristy ones, I do die inside.
Because most are fine!
And I am a believer in going to non-touristy areas to see how life is elsewhere too.
Especially if you are like me in usually preferring to live outside of touristy spots for personal reasons.
But that’s what makes me happy!
Not you necessarily.
If you prefer to live in Polanco over Lindavista, then cool!
And equally cool if it’s the reverse.
Whatever makes you happier.
But your experience in Polanco is as equal and “real” as your experience in Lindavista.
It might be a different experience in many respects but it’s still a real experience!
In which you have real local and foreign people living there like anywhere else.
Where you can experience a “real” life just like anyone else.
Just because an area isn’t richer in wealth doesn’t mean it is less real.
It just happens to be richer in wealth!
That’s cool too.
And so I don’t judge folks if they only stick to Polanco or Lindavista.
Granted, if someone were to say that touristy areas like Polanco are not “real.”
Or if someone were to say that all areas outside of the touristy areas are “shitholes not worth visiting.”
Then I will judge you!
In fact, I’m going to know that you’re a limp dick faggot.
But if you simply choose to want to live in wealthier and touristy areas or not as wealthy or touristy areas…
I genuinely don’t give a shit where you prefer to live.
To me, all of Latin America is “the real” Latin America.
It’s just that each area of the region gives different experiences.
Some experiences might not be representative of most of the region by leaning towards one extreme or the other (extremely rich or extremely poor) but that’s fine.
It’s still “real” in that real people live there with their own life experiences.
And you can experience it also.
If that region, wherever it might be, happens to make you happy, then it’s real for you too!
You don’t have to give a shit about having more “real experiences” than the next guy.
Fuck the next guy.
His girlfriend cheats on him anyway.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Follow my Twitter here.
And thanks for reading.