About a month or so ago, I was talking with my sister on the phone.
During these occasional calls, we usually talk about family back home (how the parents are doing), life in Latin America, politics (if you talk about abortion or BLM, she’ll go on a 5 minute monologue real quick), convincing me to come home and whatever else.
During this call, we got talking about Mexicans for some reason.
Though I’m not always entirely clear on what she does for a living, I know vaguely that she has some work in mental health and social services.
Or I think so anyway.
Something like that.
My memory is terrible.
Anyway, she mentioned how she visited this Mexican family in Iowa City.
And, from her initial observations, the house was full of religious stuff and was VERY clean.
Was one of the cleanest houses she has seen!
And she went on about how “Mexicans are so CLEAN. Some of the cleanest people ever.”
In that moment, I said to her “wow, you met the cleanest Mexicans I ever met.”
It’s something I’ve said to her before because she’s repeated the same story a few times now.
That story involving her observations about how clean Mexicans are.
While we didn’t have any argument about how clean Mexicans truly are, she ended it at “well, maybe immigrants to a new country are cleaner than folks back home to give a better impression.”
I honestly don’t know if that’s the reason for our gap in experience with Mexicans.
Over my 4.5 years living here, I’ve never noticed Mexicans to be “clean.”
Quite the opposite.
As I wrote here, Mexicans are no strangers to littering outside.
The most notable example of that was when I lived by Cuatro Caminos and had to pass by this HUGE garbage pile on the side of the road that was located in the walk between the metro Cuatro Caminos and the closest mall nearby outside of the metro.
When it comes to dating Mexican women or hooking up with them, I’ve seen the same thing with them.
For example, my last Mexican girlfriend, named Brenda, would take the full trash bag every week and basically leave it laying on the sidewalk by a parking lot nearby instead of disposing of it properly.
And she wasn't the only one doing that -- plenty of Mexicans in the area were doing that.
Though, to be fair, some of the locals in the area were opposed to it and had signs discouraging folks from doing that.
And, outside of dirty behavior like that, I've seen dirtiness in the apartments of chicks I've either dated or hooked up with.
“Bitch, you really live like this?”
And when it comes to the apartments I’ve lived in, Mexicans have never come across as clean either.
Be it all of the cockroaches I have seen in several apartments I’ve lived in.
Or, as you can see here, Mexicans being lazy and not knowing how to throw the toilet paper away properly in the apartment I’m in now.
Or how the owners were supposed to throw away the trash already (it's quite full as you can see) but they've been late on it for a few days.
Perhaps it could be mentioned that one of the neighbors in the place has left dirty pans on the stove and they've been there for nearly a week now having not been cleaned yet.
And others taking days to clean up the dog piss and shit in the kitchen like with the owner of my last apartment.
I guess he’s cool cooking with piss and shit around his feet.
And general uncleanliness you see with shit laying around all over the place in many of the apartments I’ve lived in.
Having said that, obviously not all Mexicans are dirty.
Here’s a video of one Mexican dude in CDMX showing how a part of Mexico City is used as an informal trash dump.
And, to be honest, I can’t really complain about Mexicans “being dirty.”
For one, I don’t give a shit.
At this point, I’m accustomed to the garbage on the streets outside and other nonsense that nothing dirty surprises me anymore.
I just don’t give a shit. No real judgement on my end.
And there’s another reason for why I can’t really complain.
Matt El Papi Sucio
When I was living by Metro Juanacatlan of CDMX, I was getting my luggage together with my last girlfriend, Brenda.
I was about to move to Cuatro Caminos area.
In getting my shit together, I noticed there was A LOT of mold in the closet.
Long story short, I put away a wet raincoat into the closet, closed the door and it grew mold all over my backpack and suitcase.
My dirty Mexican girlfriend, who even had mold in her kitchen sink because she never did the dishes one time, became a clean Mexican upon seeing the dirty gringo in action.
“How could there be so much mold?!?!” she cried in horror to the Aztec gods.
Her natural womanly duties to clean and make me a sandwich kicked in.
If it wasn’t for her, I probably would’ve had mold still on the suitcase and backpack but she took that shit downstairs and scrubbed it down nicely.
During that same relationship, she would also sometimes complain to me about how I “need new clothes.”
Socks being the issue actually.
I always had like one pair of socks that, to be fair, were dirty as fuck looking.
But they worked!
Had a few holes.
But they worked, damn it!
Still, on one particular afternoon, she stopped me in the street and submitted a FORMAL DEMAND that I buy new socks already.
Wanting my dick sucked later that afternoon, I complied and bought myself new socks.
Though that was approximately 1.5 USD less that I could’ve invested in bitcoin, I will say that the new socks felt nice.
Well, dirty Matt keeps on being dirty.
I don’t flush the toilet after a piss.
In fact, I’ve always found the idea of having a Latina lick the piss stains off my toilet while fucking her from behind to be a curious idea.
Still just an idea…
And, during days where the alcohol consumption is strong, I might even miss a day of showering!
Just one day…
On top of it all, I have my own fair share of shit hanging around.
That’s been a habit of mine since I was a kid.
But, even back then and up until today, I’ve always been a little bit lazy with having shit laying around and not very tidy.
So who am I to complain about the dirty Mexicans?
Though, among some expats who have traveled around Latin America like myself, there’s one side observation I’ve heard made repeatedly.
“It’s the Mexicans & Central Americans Who Are Dirty”
This is a statement I’ve heard among a few folks from time to time.
The idea being that folks in South America are not at all dirty and are much cleaner than folks in Central America and Mexico.
Well, I’ve seen people litter in places like Bolivia before.
Though, in my time living in South America, I never saw huge piles of garbage on the side of the street nor have I ever seen cockroaches in my apartment before coming to Mexico.
And, when I think of the very few places I’ve seen in Central America, some were noticeably dirty and others not as much.
For example, the Nicaraguan capital of Managua and Guatemala City were noticeably dirtier than Panama City in my experience.
Granted, Panama City is noticeably richer than both of the other cities in question.
So wealth concentration might have something to do with it also.
Either way, I have seen dirtier habits like littering more commonly done in South America than the US but, in my brief experience in South America, my memory does make me believe that there might be some truth to the idea that Mexico and Central America are dirtier.
I’m not going to stand 100% behind the statement because it’s been almost 6 years since I’ve been to South America so my memory is fuzzy on just how clean the streets were.
Still, there’s another topic to bring up also that comes to mind.
Cultural Example: Showers & Shaving
Finally, it also needs to be said that cultural norms of cleanliness need to be remembered.
While some things like showering and not littering might be more objectively seen as clean across most cultures, there are some disagreements also across cultures regarding what is clean.
As a result, it’s easy to see how a Latino could see a gringo as dirty if said gringo doesn’t comply with some of the cultural standards of cleanliness that said Latino has.
For example, I’ve heard some folks in some parts of Latin America like to shower multiple times a day.
During my time in Colombia, that was something I heard.
That one should shower 2 or maybe 3 times a day?
At least more than once.
On top of that, my last Colombian girlfriend, Marcela, was insistent on having me shave my pubic hair and legs during the initial days of our relationship.
Though I never did, it was something that she wouldn’t drop for the first month.
She wasn’t harassing me too much but it was a minor thing she would bring up maybe once a week or something.
In her words, it “looked cleaner.”
In my words, it looks more manly.
What dude shaves his legs?
There’s actually an interesting online forum I found online here that touches that subject.
“At the risk of suffering 'brow-beating' from my fellow gringos and risking the possibility that this discussion may well spiral down where it ultimately ends up in the Pit. But I have to ask this question: Do Colombian men shave their, (ahem) 'nether region'? The reason I ask this question is that I have been requested by 2 Colombian women, from completely different parts of the country, to completely eliminate the 'grass that grows below the belt line'. Now I know women will go 'au natural', some will have a 'landing strip' and others completely barren. But I have never in my life been asked to 'clean the playing field'. I know we have our resident Colombiana on here who I hope she may shed some light on this issue. I'm not sure if this will be a deal breaker or not but I'm not looking forward to doing it. I will throw myself upon the sword so that other may benefit from this question. And please, keep the chuckles to a minimum, (if you can! ;)”
So, when talking about who is the dirty one, just remember that some more subjective ideas of cleanliness will influence any person from whatever background they are from.
It doesn’t mean their idea is right necessarily but will influence how they see you.
Final Verdict: Whose the Dirty One?
Look, the US is a big country with a wide range of different people.
Latin America is noticeably bigger than the US with even a wider range of different people.
Making a generalized statement on this topic is a little bit difficult because of that.
Having said that, I might be a little bit biased in saying gringos are less dirty because I am a gringo.
And also because examples of dirtiness are MUCH more evident and IN YOUR FACE in Mexico City than life back home.
Granted, life back home means a small town and not a large city of 20 some million people so that’s not a fair comparison.
Still, even when I went to small towns in Latin America, examples of dirtiness were evident also (though you could likely explain away some of those cases due to issues stemming from lesser economic development depending on what rural area of Latin America you are talking about).
Anyway, when it comes to “public cleanliness,” I think it’s not unreasonable to say that the US is generally cleaner.
Whenever I fly to Chicago or Columbus and leave the airport by taxi, I’m always impressed by how green and clean the outside of my taxi window is.
It’s something a Mexican chick named Paola told me once years ago during my first months in Mexico when I lived by Roma Norte.
She had spent time in some city in California (San Francisco?) and noted to me how clean California looked compared to Mexico.
On the flip side, as I said, it does seem to me like other parts of Latin America might look cleaner than others as not all of Latin America is the same.
And, when it comes to personal hygiene, maybe Latin Americans win the point on this one?
At least those who take multiple showers a day.
I have no idea how many actually do that but, if many are, then that is objectively cleaner than taking a shower once a day.
Even though, as a gringo, I would say multiple times a day is unnecessary unless you went to the gym or did some heavy labor like construction or something.
Either way, my final verdict ultimately is that “it depends.”
Generally, the US is cleaner in my opinion in public spaces versus Latin America broadly speaking.
When it comes to personal hygiene, some Latin Americas win depending on their habits.
But plenty of dirty people on both sides of the aisle!
That’s all I got to say for now anyhow.
It’s a small topic on life in Latin America but not much more to say.
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Thanks for reading.