Back when I lived by Roma Norte of Mexico City some odd months ago, there was another American named Alex.
He was a cool dude overall.
Even spoke Spanish a little bit and was learning!
However, while he had an interest in the Spanish language, it did come across to me that the guy had no real interest in anything Mexico.
He would sometimes turn down offers from people in the building to visit some cool spot in the city as a group.
In any house parties, he didn’t seem overly interested in any of the local music.
Some local chick offered to dance with him and he refused on the basis of “I don’t know how to dance.”
Granted, to be fair, said chick was fat as fuck and so that might’ve been why he didn’t want to dance with her.
She was nice but just not physically attractive in anyway.
But it is true that he genuinely didn’t care about Latin music.
Not even reggaeton.
The class music that any gringo loves when coming to Latin America.
Mostly because the music is basically Latin hip hop to us and is easy enough to dance to.
Not like salsa where you actually need to learn.
And not like banda or vallenato that doesn’t sound anywhere as nice to the ears.
Reggaeton works for us gringos usually!
Despite how, funny enough, you’ll easily find a woman down here who says she dislikes it but will dance with you to it in some cheap bar in the city before going back to your place.
All of a sudden, she’s quite a fan of “baila Morena, baila Morena” as she dances in her panties back home and I slap her ass a bit.
What happened, girl? I thought a ti no te gusta el reggaetón!
“Oh papi, el reggaetón es muy buenoooooo!”
“Hmmm, OK chica, OK. Interesante….”
Back to the story!
So, in all fairness, Alex wasn’t that interested in all things Latin America.
Little interest in checking out the city as much as others.
No real interest in the music.
And, in some of our conversations (he did like politics), it seemed that he knew little of Latin American history.
But he was a cool dude.
Very easy to get along with.
And, to be fair, he did try to learn Spanish.
Which makes sense – if you live somewhere, life is going to be harder if you don’t speak the language versus not knowing when Emiliano Zapata died to the lyrics of “El Preso” here.
And Alex isn’t unusual!
There are plenty of gringos who just don’t give a rat’s ass about anything Latin America.
They want to live here!
Perhaps because of the cheaper cost of living (Alex’s reason) to better dating success.
Or, in our days, perhaps the occasional gringo looking to escape all Covid regulations.
When I lived at that same apartment, we had another foreigner show up to live there who was from France.
He told me literally that “he hopes his sister delays the wedding so that he doesn’t have to go back to France?”
Why could he not want to go to France so badly?
Because of Covid regulations there.
Did he care about Latin America? No.
But what could be said about these gringos?
The ones who genuinely don’t care about anything in regards to Latin America.
And, keep in mind, Alex is a lighter example of them.
You have others who don’t speak a lick of Spanish and who LITERALLY only hang out with other gringos and with no Latinos whatsoever.
Outside of the Latino waiter asking you in English what type of tacos you want or if you want another mojito before your walk to the beach.
Let’s jump into it.
I Personally Don’t Care
I only began writing about this because I saw someone on Twitter say that “they should assimilate” to Latin culture.
We’ll get to that point soon enough.
I just figured anyhow that this is actually a thing that exists and should be mentioned when discussing every detail to life in Latin America.
And so how do I feel about said gringos?
As the subtitle suggests, I don’t care!
I can be judgemental on some things.
But, when it comes to this issue, I see it more as a “if this is how you want to live your life, then cool.”
In the same way that, while I have opinions on said gringos, I don’t personally care about the gringos who come down here to be sex and drug addicts.
The type who does cocaine and chases prostitutes all day.
Or the one who wants to go “wife hunting.”
Whatever the fuck else.
Granted, this is my first thought – “I don’t care.”
But, if you are making me care enough, what else could be said?
Waste of Opportunity?
Well, like the sex and drug addicts, I guess you can say it’s a waste of opportunity for those who don’t also care for anything to do with life in Latin America.
That’s technically true.
The gringo who doesn’t care about anything to do with life here is missing out on some cool shit.
Like learning Spanish among some of them.
To having cool ass stories by going off the gringo tourist trail and meeting locals elsewhere.
To making friends with locals that you’ll remember for a long time.
Perhaps appreciating some area of Latin America and its historical significance.
For example, when I went to Potosi of Bolivia, I could appreciate the history behind the place.
The history being quite grim though in regards to the millions of slaves who died in the mountain over there.
But I like grim history!
My soul is void of all humanity.
In the same way that I’d go to a concentration camp in Germany and go “hmmm, I wonder if the spirits of the victims are watching me here.”
I do like grim things!
In the same way that I like my alcoholic drinks to taste bitter with black tea.
Do I even have a soul?
Still, in all seriousness, I get it!
It’s a waste of an opportunity to come to Latin America and not appreciate other things in life here regarding history, culture, making friends with locals, visiting non-touristy places and more.
You’re preaching to the choir by telling me this.
I live it!
However, I get not everyone wants to do all of the above.
For me, it comes down to happiness.
Are They Happy?
I can be a little bit on the opposite.
Though I like touristy activities, I only really appreciate them if they are tied to some historical event that I care about or something to do with nature.
Anything to do with canoeing, hiking or whatever else is cool.
However, not all touristy things are cool to me.
For example, I went to the Basilica of Mexico City as you can read here.
A visit that literally never been has read despite the time I did to write up that experience.
Or this experience here of visiting THE OLDEST WAX MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS!!!!!
Did anyone read that article?
And, if I’m being fair here, I get it.
Who gives a fuck about THE OLDEST WAX MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS!!!!!
It is the oldest though, just remember that....
With the Basilica, it does have greater tourism importance but I get why nobody read that article either.
While the Basilica was a little bit cooler than THE OLDEST WAX MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAS!!!!
I’ll be honest in saying that both experiences will be not remembered by me in 20 years.
Whereas, if I had to guess, I’ll probably remember my trip to the Amazon or Patagonia.
Not all tourism activities are equal!
And while the Basilica and the museum had information available explaining to me the historical importance of what I was seeing….
I genuinely did not give a fuck.
I’m not religious nor do I care THAT MUCH about wax.
I only went to each place because I’ve decided to write up on as many tourism places I can find in Mexico City as I can since I got lots of free time.
But can we extend that then?
Personally, I don’t care for historic basilicas and museums.
What if, hear me out, said gringo doesn’t give a fuck about all things Latin America?
But still sees benefits to living down here?
Does he really need to stand back and nod away in fake appreciation of all of the HISTORICAL MOMENTS that happened in El Zocalo?
Or can he just show up, take a few pictures and appreciate how cool it looks aesthetically?
In the same way that, while I did read up on the Basilica, I didn’t care about its history and just thought it looked slightly cool.
Though, as I hinted at before, I’m always more impressed by nature than architecture.
And there are things of local Latin culture that I don’t give a fuck about.
For example, as I wrote here, there was an Argentine chick I went on a date with who was STUNNED that I didn’t know who this random Mexican god of the indigenous was that she had tattooed on her body.
I didn’t know who he was!
I’m not religious and I genuinely don’t give a fuck about fake gods of the Mexico or anywhere.
What’s next? You going to bitch at me for not caring about VOLDEMORT?!?
So I get it.
While I do have a greater appreciation for certain time periods of Latin America (cold war for example) and also for certain cultural aspects to Latin America (music like salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, etc)…
And I dig the food and i do more than my fair share of traveling to and living in non-touristy areas much more than you average gringo…
I can get why some gringos don’t care about all things tourism down here while still finding a benefit to living down here.
But what if they don’t want to live down here for too long?
Not a Long-Term Person?
If I’m new to a place for only a week, I’ll only check out the most recommended touristy places to see.
If I have a year, I’ll do all the main tourism things, some lesser touristy things and a lot of fun shit doing degenerate things.
If I have many years to live somewhere? All of the above but I’m going to be living in non-touristy places soon enough.
If said gringo though only sees his trip to x Latin country as temporary, I can get why he doesn’t go too off the tourist trail.
His time is limited!
And, on top of that, he likely doesn’t see himself as someone who plans to move to Latin America LONG TERM.
Long term meaning decades.
For the moment, I see myself as such unless something changes.
So while said gringo could still get some benefit to going off the tourist trail even if he won’t be here long term, I get why he would have less interest in doing so.
After all, he doesn’t see life down here as being a significant part of his life and, as I said before, he might have little to no interest in the place that he is in.
Nor might he be actually Latino.
Look, if some random Latino immigrated to Iowa, I wouldn’t expect the dude to be listening to Johnny Cash and going to some big fair enjoying fried food that you can see here.
If he does those things, then cool!
And who doesn't want to go to THE WORLD'S GREATEST FAIR!
The title of that video above is proof that it is!
You don't look convinced...
He’s experiencing life and seeing new shit that he’s never done before.
Checking out another part of the world that is foreign to him.
To me, that is cool as fuck.
However, like with the time factor, I get it.
He’s not Iowan.
He didn’t grow up in Iowa.
Nothing about the culture of anywhere in Iowa relates to him.
I met Mexicans in my small town who have NO INTEREST in anything Iowa.
Some don’t even speak English but live there.
I remember an uncle of mine telling me how he used to have Mexican neighbors (he said they were Mexican but sometimes US folks call any Latino Mexican to be fair) who would blast some Spanish language music ALL NIGHT together across the street.
And engage in other cultural activities from back home.
They ain’t white, motherfucker.
In the same way I’m white.
I’m not Latino, motherfucker.
Why would you demand the white guy to act Latino and the Latino to act like a white guy?
Or anyone to act like someone of a race that they are not.
They grew up in a certain background that puts certain cultural behaviors into them that they keep.
Live outside your home country? You’ll probably identify with your roots even more strongly.
So should we get angry at those “Mexican” dudes or any I have met in Iowa for not going to the state fare, learning English, listening to Johnny Cash or whatever the hell else?
Now, as I said, you can argue it to be a waste of opportunity to not “try out” those things.
To have an open mind and try something new.
That’s true for either the gringo in Latin America or the Latino in Gringolandia.
And you do have both in both areas that don’t try anything new outside of the culture they grew up with.
Wasted opportunity? Yes.
Does it matter really? No.
If either one is genuinely happier not engaging in most of the local culture because it doesn’t interest them, fair enough.
No judgement on my part.
The funny thing is that, from what I saw on that Twitter comment mentioned, the word “assimilate” was used for this type of gringo in Latin America.
Hmmm? I wonder if they’d ask the Mexican on the opposite side of the same coin to “assimilate?”
Would they see that as racist?
I didn’t ask but I’d be willing to bet 5 bucks that It’d be the case.
Either way, let’s wrap this up.
Do You Know Your Own Area, Local Person?
When I dated a Mexican chick named Brenda, there were things about Mexico and her home state of Hidalgo that she didn’t know that I knew.
Granted, she spoke Spanish.
Had an interest in Latin music (reggaeton specifically).
But she knew basically nothing of the history of her own home state or even her small hometown when I asked her questions about it as we visited her parents.
Obviously, being Mexican, she would assumingly know something about national history of say Emiliano Zapata or whatever other important historical figure.
Just like your typical American knows a few things about George Washington but might have some difficulty going into detail about the history of his home state.
That’s because we are all taught, from Mexicans to Americans, the national history of our country but the textbooks in school don’t focus AS MUCH or AT ALL on the state or town history.
So said local in either country (or anywhere in Latin America) isn’t going to be able to as easily look at an important street and go “hmmm! On this street of the year 1852, there were horse races!”
But you do have some gringos who might show up to that street and, for whatever reason, just have a HUGE interest in the history of the city and know about those horse races!
And, as I said, you have many more who don’t.
On top of that, you have those who, for whatever reason, present themselves as being interested in all things foreign.
That same gringo who maybe studied “Latin American studies” formally in college and who learns Quechua and all other random shit because he is just SO INTERESTED in Latin America.
To the Latina that we call a “gringo hunter” who only dates foreign dudes, knows nothing of her own history and expresses only an interest in foreign music, books, movies, etc.
These folks don’t just have a possible lack of understanding of their own roots but they might disregard it!
They are silly to be fair.
Anyway, it should just be said that most locals in many parts of the world have a limited understanding of their own region where they live.
At least the history.
Obviously, they’d know the culture and language.
But history is less common.
So is it a waste? Well, knowledge is cool and it’s a waste to not know your own history of the city you grew up in.
But that doesn’t take away the legitimacy of why you live there.
Though the local born there has more reason to live there, the foreigner can find his own reason too.
Be it the Mexican who migrated illegally for work or the gringo who moved for lower cost of living.
They don’t need to know the history (or culture or language) to justify their existence there.
It’s a waste if they don’t learn it but they aren’t necessarily that much better than many of the locals in my opinion who are too lazy to learn more of their own history.
And if they are happy, then cool!
Do You Need to Assimilate for Long Term Success?
We discussed before the gringos who aren't going to be down here long-term anyway.
But what if you will be down here long-term?
As I said many times now, if you genuinely don't care about anything deeper with society but happy living here, then cool.
But, for those living longer term down here, I do suspect that they need to adopt to some aspects of society here to be happy.
I could be wrong though!
You do have gringos who live in gated communities and who don't interact with the locals in anyway whatsoever.
In the same way that you got foreigners living in the US who don't necessarily live in gated communities but don't necessarily hang out with people who don't share their background.
And both stick around for years or decades even without hanging out with any locals nor digging their roots deeper into the language, history of culture of the area.
So is it possible to not dig deeper roots into an area and stay happy there? Yes!
However, I feel that those who plan on sticking around for decades are less likely to be successful at it if they don't do some learning.
That being learning of a new language, cultural or historical information and/or meeting locals.
Just my opinion anyhow.
Anything to Add?
There could be other things to add.
Of course, social context varies wildly.
But these were the main thoughts that came to mind.
The summary of what I think here has been said before but I’ll say it again: it is a waste if you don’t dive deeper into the history, language and culture of the area you moved to but, if you have no interest in any of that, your reason to live there could still be valid for other reasons and it’s perfectly OK to not care as much about the above. A waste yes? But are you happy? Then cool.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Drop any comments below in the comment section.
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Thanks for reading.