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Desire of the Mexican to Speak English in Gringo Presence

Published November 23, 2021 in Mexico - 0 Comments

This will be a short article on a funny but small observation I’ve noticed on a very small minority of Latinos in Latin America.

An observation made in Mexico City anyhow.

So, last night, I walked out of my apartment to get some food at around 7:30 PM.

As I wrote before, getting back inside the building of my apartment becomes more complicated past 9 PM.

Going back to about a week on my first day in this building, I came across some street food place that offered delicious tostadas as you can see here.

Only 25 pesos (1.25 USD) each!

That’s a steal given most I’ve seen sell for 40 to 50 pesos a piece.

Not sure how they make a profit on that but that’s something I’ve thought about when it comes to a lot of goods and services sold in Mexico.

Anyway, I’ve wanted to try their tostadas again.

Over the last few days, I’ve walked over to the spot where I found them and haven’t seen them open again.

I remember the lady telling me that they are “open everyday” but forgot the exact hours they are open.

This time, I came back during the night at around the same time as the first time I found their place.

My surprise?

Being that, this time, I found someone else offering street food in the exact same spot.

Different street food stand in the same spot.

Not the same lady who cooked me the nice tostadas and they didn’t even have tostadas on sell.

This time it was a hamburger place

In the afternoon of that same day, I tried some gordita place close by but found their gorditas to not taste very well.

So, by the time I found this hamburger spot, I figured I’d go with it since I was hungry and didn’t eat much for lunch since I threw away half of the food (it really wasn’t that good).

At any rate, I wasn’t the only person at this food stand for the hamburgers.

Which is a good sign that the food must be worth something if others like it.

That’s a side tip anyway – looking for good street food in Mexico City? Aim for ones that actually have customers outside. Granted, I’ve eaten at obscure spots with nobody nearby and turned out fine. It’s a good tip anyway.

At any rate, there was a couple that looked to be in their 30s sitting down in front of me eating their hamburgers as I ordered my food.

The first lady working at this place handed me a menu to look at.

Then, when ready, the second lady cooking everything asked me what I wanted to eat.

I ordered a double meat hamburger with cheese and bacon with extra fries.

“Que tipo de queso?” she asked.

Looking at the menú, I chose the obvious choice.

“Americano” I said.

Of course I picked the americano cheese…

I’m American!

Got to support the Motherland by only picking the cheese of my people.


After I ordered, I gave the menu back to the older woman who gave it to me.

Then I stood back.

Before some other folks stopped by this food spot to order hamburgers, I noticed something strange but slightly humorous among the mentioned couple sitting down in front of me.

Right after I finished ordering, the guy in question said something in English to his woman.

I didn’t hear him perfectly but it sounded something like “do you want fries?”

Soon enough, fries came.

When he asked his girl though if she wanted fries in English, she made a small chuckle.

And they switched back to Spanish right away where he asked again but in Spanish if she wanted fries.

The fries came.

While they might’ve been poking slight fun at the assumption that I’m a gringo who speaks English, I’m not entirely sure either.

This is a very minor behavior that I’ve noticed among a very small minority of Latinos in Latin America that it’s almost not worth mentioning because you don’t see it often but it might happen once in a blue moon.

That behavior being?

Showing Our English Skills to the Gringo

I’ve seen some Latinos do this once in a blue moon.

Though, oddly enough, I’ve seen it only happen among Mexicans specifically.

I’ve never seen a Latino do what I’m describing here from any other country.

Perhaps because Mexicans are a little more “Americanized” on average than other Latinos?

My guess anyhow but you be the jury.

Either way, as I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, it’s not uncommon for Latinos of any nationality to “show their English” to foreigners.

Perhaps they want to come across as “muy educado,” maybe they are ignorant about any foreigner’s ability to speak Spanish, perhaps they are trying to sell you something, they could be a “gringo hunter,” maybe they want to use you as a free English tutor or whatever the hell else.

I would say this is slightly different though.

Said Mexican dude didn’t speak directly to me.

Nor did I say anything to him after hearing him speak a simple sentence in English.

It could’ve been he was making fun of me for being a foreigner that he assumed spoke English? I doubt it.

Maybe he wanted to be polite and speak briefly in a language that he thought I understood better? Maybe but I don’t know.

Perhaps he wanted to show to the 4 people around us that he speaks English too? Perhaps? I don’t know.

I didn’t find it annoying though like I do when a local wants to practice their English directly with me.

I did find it slightly weird though.

It’d be like if I was in the US that doesn’t have many tourists from Russia…

And, upon seeing someone that I assume to be Russian order a hamburger in English, I say a simple sentence in Russian to someone else.

Seems a bit weird, doesn’t it?

Especially if the Russian has shown that he speaks enough English to at least order a hamburger.

I found it slightly weird but a tiny bit humorous also that he, for whatever reason, felt the need to spit out a sentence in English when, if we’re being honest, he probably wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t here.

He had an accent and was clearly not from the US and neither did she seem from the US.

Maybe they both spent time in the US and that's why?

Despite then switching back to Spanish for the entirety of their conversation when I was there and having seen a few other Latinos in Latin America exhibit this behavior also.

It’s something I’ve seen among a few minority of Latinos in Mexico who, upon having a gringo in the area, they won’t say anything to you but will speak a sentence or popular phrase in English to assumingly another local.

Which is different, in my opinion, when they address you directly in English (broken or not).

At any rate, it’s a small observation about a very specific behavior among a very small minority of locals down here in Latin America.

I only brought it up because this small moment reminded me of this behavior that I’ve seen a very small handful of times down here.

Not much else to add on my end for now.

Here’s the hamburger that I got finally in the end last night.

If you have any comments, drop them below in the comment section.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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