A gringo named Mark moves to Mexico.
Upon arrival to Cancun, he spends his days in retirement with his feet up at the beach drinking margaritas all afternoon.
When it’s night time, he goes to the nearby expat bar where he has a few more drinks hanging out with other expats.
Perhaps watching sports?
Maybe laughing with the other expats at how dumb they think Mexicans are.
All very entertaining activities!
And, up to this point, his only interaction with any local Mexicans whatsoever has been asking any employee in English for “another drink” or “for the menu” for more wings.
Maybe after his time at the expat bar, he’ll finally interact with a local in a more personal way.
Well, across the street from the expat bar, there’s a well-known whore house where the local gals offer anal for only 25 DOLLARS!
So, in a way, you can’t really say that Mark doesn’t know any Mexicans.
He knows a few local gals in very intimate ways!
But, if we’re being honest, that is perhaps the extent to which Mark knows any local Mexicans.
If we’re lucky, perhaps his landlord is a Mexican but let’s not get carried away.
At the end of the day, Mark lives in Mexico but, to many observers, it might not look that way.
He doesn’t have any Mexican friends.
The only Mexicans he speaks to are in English when he wants to order something or fuck a local prostitute in the ass.
Absolutely no Spanish ability beyond “where is the baño?”
And he isn’t particularly very knowledgeable about Mexican customs or holidays outside of those that involve an invitation to drink more.
Is Mark wasting his time in Mexico?
The Gringos Who Live in Mexico Away from Mexico
While Mark is, technically speaking, a fictional character made from my imagination with extra details to gross the reader out…
The truth is that, as I wrote before, there are plenty of Marks out there.
The type of character who has most if not all of the following characteristics:
- Only hangs out with other gringos
- Lives in specific areas that are very expat heavy
- Doesn’t learn Spanish
- Basically has no local friends
- Is not very knowledgeable or has any interest in the local culture or history
And one who fucks prostitutes in the ass?
I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Regardless of any degenerate activities involved, you get the idea – it’s a gringo with lives in Mexico technically but not really.
A type of character I wrote more about in this article here months ago.
And is one that came under the microscope once again in this Facebook comment here.
Now, in the moment that this comment was published on some Expat in Mexico group, it took in a lot of opinions very quickly as everyone wanted to jump in.
In order to be concise with what we’ll discuss, I’ll include a few screenshots of different comments that I found were either interesting or reflected common talking points made by numerous folks.
So let’s get to the main thoughts I’ve had on this subject.
Is Mark Having a Good Time?
To me, that’s what matters above all.
As long as Mark isn’t hurting anyone (we’ll assume the prostitutes aren’t sex trafficking victims), then who cares?
If the dude has absolutely no desire to assimilate to Mexican society and is happy living how he is, then leave him alone!
Granted, not all agree with that necessarily as you can see in this screenshot here.
But I think these words are assuming something – that someone like Mark plans to live in Mexico "permanently."
How do you know?
In my time living in Latin America, I’ve come to realize most people aren’t crazy enough like me to want to live here forever.
Most folks coming to Latin America seem to leave after 1 to 3 years.
You have others who are “digital nomads” that travel around and never stick to one place for very long.
And you got retired folks who probably are more likely to stick it out longer than 3 years but are basically just trying to enjoy the end of their lives before they kick the bucket.
I don’t really see them as the same as someone like me who perhaps wants to live in Latin America for a very significant portion of my life, maybe start a family down here, etc.
And, even if we took a gringo like me but someone who doesn’t ever learn Spanish or assimilate in anyway, then what is there to say?
Well, I’d revert back to what I asked before :”is this person happy?”
If so, then whatever.
But, having said that, I will agree with a common sentiment that many would have about any character who moves to another country without trying to learn the local language, make local friends, learn the history of the place, etc.
A Waste of Opportunity
You might argue that I’m a little more libertarian in my view of things – “if the person is happy and isn’t hurting anyone, then who cares?”
And, while I agree with that approach, I also would agree that it’s objectively speaking a waste of opportunity to move to another country and not try to learn anything about the place.
No effort to learn the local language, the history of the place, make local friends, etc.
In my time living in Latin America, so many cool memories and stories have come by interacting with the locals.
In fact, I would argue that probably 80% of my best memories came about because of learning Spanish, making local friends, going off the tourist trail, etc.
That extra 20% definitely for checking out cool touristy spots though.
Either way, you are, without any question, leaving a lot on the table by not digging deeper into society.
Plus, when we are speaking about someone who does immigrate to another country long term and doesn’t learn the local language, I’d also call that disrespectful to the locals.
While language learning is hard for plenty of folks, if you do plan on living somewhere long term but can’t bother to learn the language, that does seem rude to me.
Part of the Community?
Let’s take the last bit from that first screenshot shown way above.
“Become part of the community not a foreigner hanging out with other foreigners. But become a person willing to wrap yourself in everything the people and the country have to offer. Otherwise you’re just on a long vacation.”
Now, right off the bat, we have this screenshot here in response to the second half of that paragraph.
And, similar to Mark perhaps, all I can say is “good” also.
If someone wants to only be on what is seemingly a perpetual vacation, then good for them!
But let’s address now the first half of that paragraph about being “part of the community not a foreigner.”
While us gringos can definitely become part of the community, I do push back a tiny bit on this idea of “becoming part of the community.”
Let’s take my own experience for example.
For one, I rarely interact with any other foreigners outside of a very small few that I know.
Anyone else I hang out with is a local.
I speak Spanish.
I enjoy learning the history of local neighborhoods I move into like when I wrote about the history of Pedregal de Santo Domingo in CDMX here.
And those neighborhoods are almost always outside of the touristy areas as I spend literally 99% of my time outside the “expat bubble.”
In fact, the areas I move to are sometimes seen as too scary to visit even by some locals.
Inside the gringo bubble, I am not.
In those neighborhoods also, I enjoy making small talk with other locals.
Once in a blue moon, a new friendship is formed and cool as fuck stories happen.
And, while I prefer fucking pussy instead of a chick’s asshole, I at least make the effort to only do so with normal Tinder gals and also do my part in getting to know them beyond sex.
In many ways, I do everything the opposite of Mark and very much interact with the community.
But let me let you in on a little secret…
Under no circumstances do the 99% of the locals see me as “part of the community” and not just a foreigner who will someday go back to the US.
I could literally knock a chick up, start a little family in Mexico, buy a house, pay taxes, get citizenship and improve my Spanish beyond the levels it is at already.
And what would happen after?
Even then, 90% of the local population who don't know me will still see me as a foreigner who will go home someday (even if I earned local citizenship).
As I wrote here, you simply have so many locals in Latin America who are not used to the idea of us gringos becoming “part of society” and not just tourists who will leave forever someday.
|In large part because a vast majority of gringos that the locals meet are tourists.
And, while on the subject, you can blame the gringo expats in part for this perception because most of them do stick to expat bubbles away from most locals who aren't upper middle class.
On top of that, few gringos actually raise kids down here who will carry their legacy or the culture of their heritage in Mexico unlike what you see with immigrants in other countries.
Though, to be fair, some expats do carry bits of their culture down here in various ways like I wrote here about those celebrating Thanksgiving in Latin America.
And, in more obvious examples, you have groups like the Mennonites in Mexico that you can read about here.
While probably plenty of Mexicans do not see them as really being Mexican despite their century of being here, I do think plenty of Mexicans who are aware of them do see them as at least being part of the community.
One of the issues I think for why some Mexicans might not see them as being really Mexican is because of the Mexican myth that "en Mexico, somos mestizos" as I wrote here.
That type of narrative also serves to make some Mexicans see other Mexicans -- who are black or Asian for example -- as not "really being Mexican" as I wrote here.
So, in short, you have various issues here.
For one, returning back to the gringo expats, you have the issue that most don't even try to make a real community in Mexico with most gringos that Mexicans meet being tourists anyhow.
But, on the other hand, I feel plenty of Mexicans wouldn't be open minded to the idea of us ever not being outsiders anymore and actually part of the community even if we earned local citizenship (which plenty of gringo immigrants do).
Our children would probably be seen as such but we never would be in the eyes of most locals (though not all).
When discussing those local perceptions, you have locals who will also tell gringos who literally have earned local citizenship that “they are just guests” and shouldn’t give negative critiques of the country as I wrote here.
I've seen it personally where those who have citizenship are told that they "aren't really a citizen."
Though, to be fair, I've only seen it a few times because I don't ask every local how they see gringos becoming citizens down here.
Either way, for those few ignorant jackasses, it also involves the usual ol’ “if you don’t like it, go home” bitchfest that some locals in any country spit out when they hear a critique of their country (no matter how justified or reasonable it is).
So we are part of the community but, even when we get citizenship and have a life here, we’re still just guests who can't give our real thoughts on life down here?
How does that work out?
And I would wonder if the original author behind that comment would react accordingly at the sight of any foreigner who has assimilated in all the ways above (citizenship, local family, local house, etc) giving a critique of his country?
Or does he still, in practice, only see us as guests and never truly part of the community?
Of course, to be fair, obviously no foreigner, no matter how much assimilation they do, will ever truly be 100% like the locals and they can still be part of the community nonetheless.
Just like the Mennonites and other immigrant groups have their own communities but still operate within the larger community that they have spent decades in.
And, being honest, I don't truly want to be Mexican but I wouldn't mind having citizenship someday and I enjoy engaging with the community.
I just think that some of the hostility by some of the locals regarding the idea of us being not just outsiders but part of the community can discourage other gringo expats from truly engaging with the community.
And, to be fair, not every local in Latin America rejects so strongly the idea of foreigners living down here.
Most don't actually. It's just that most, in my experience, are still new to the idea of us moving down here but that depends heavily on what part of Latin America you move to in my opinion (where areas with more gringo expats will have more locals exposed to the idea).
So what are the main points to take away from this section here?
First, there is some responsibility on gringo expats to do more to be part of the community if that is how they wish to be perceived.
But, given other issues like ignorance, how most foreigners are actually tourists and other issues not discussed, it's my opinion that you'll always have a majority of locals in Latin America who will never truly see us as part of the community anytime soon (outside of maybe for select individuals depending on the circumstances).
Therefore, it's not entirely illogical why some gringos might choose to not play that game if they always feel like outsiders and also especially if they see their time as limited in the country anyhow.
You won’t see them as anything but money shitting tourists so why should they bother?
Still, despite my doubts regarding the degree to which your typical foreigner can be seen as part of the community by most locals, I still encourage other expats to engage with the community for reasons already stated.
Not Discouraging Hanging Out with Expats
To be fair, the dude who posted the first comment way above that sparked discussion did say that he isn't trying to discourage folks from hanging out with expats as you can see in this screenshot here.
"Just experience Mexico."
I can't disagree.
Sure, go hang out with expats if you want and experience Mexico.
Nothing wrong with that.
And that side of his argument should be pointed out because, to be fair, I don't think the person who made the comment that started this discussion was overly judgemental except with a few folks.
And sometimes people do misread what someone is saying when they start this argument where they think the person bringing this point forward is arguing that you shouldn't hang out with other expats.
Not the case at all for sure.
Hard for Grandma to Learn Spanish?
Next, we have this comment here about how hard it is to learn Spanish or any other language at an older age.
Given that I’m not 60, I’ll just leave this alone as I never tried learning a foreign language at that age.
While I’m not a native speaker of Spanish and learned it starting in my teenage years, I also never found it too difficult to learn personally.
Still, according to this source here, apparently language learning really is a bit tougher the older you get.
“Based on people’s grammar scores and information about their learning of English, the researchers developed models that predicted how long it takes to become fluent in a language and the best age to start learning. They concluded that the ability to learn a new language, at least grammatically, is strongest until the age of 18 after which there is a precipitous decline. To become completely fluent, however, learning should start before the age of 10.”
Easier to Find Other Gringos Than Locals?
Going back to gringos in Mexico, I believe it’s simply easier also for gringos to find events to meet other gringos than to meet locals.
Of course, this isn’t true necessarily in all of Latin America.
For example, when I lived in a Bolivian city called Cochabamba, there were language events held where it was very easy to meet locals as I wrote about here for example.
In other Latin cities, these same type of events can be helpful in connecting with locals.
And you have other websites like this one here where local events are held.
Or Facebook groups to meet people also.
So it’s definitely not impossible to meet a local.
Which it shouldn’t be, no?
After all, there are locals outside your apartment if you live down here walking around EVERYWHERE!
Want to meet a local?
Just go to your local corner store, shake the hand of the employee behind the cash register, give firm eye contact and say “YOU! I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU! I COME FROM AMERICA!”
Not too confident how well that’ll work but give it a try and let me know…
In all seriousness though, I can get why some gringos might feel that it’s harder to make friends with locals than with gringos.
Obviously the language and cultural barriers exist.
And, over the last year as I’ve tried to be more social, I’ve personally noticed that, at least in Mexico City, it does seem like opportunities to meet other gringos are more in your face or easier to spot than interesting events to meet other locals.
Obviously, plenty of events happen all the time in Mexico City where locals frequent but I often find that, in many cases but not all, most of the locals go in groups and aren’t interested in meeting new people.
While, on the flip side, other foreigners are foreigners like me and are less likely to have a strong group of people they know if they are new to the city and are more interested in meeting new people.
Depends on the event of course.
Obviously though, in parts of Latin America with very few gringos, it’d be easier to meet locals then if there isn’t a strong expat community.
Perhaps that’s a tip anyhow for those who want to meet more locals than gringos?
Try hanging out in places without the gringo expats and maybe it’ll force you better to meet more locals.
Of course, I can understand why said gringo, assuming he is new to Latin America, would be too nervous to do that on his first trip here.
Anyway, it’s just an idea but let’s move on.
A Common Point of Judgement?
Over the years when I’ve heard this argument time and time again, it often feels like it simply comes from very specific groups of people who make it.
While sometimes the person mentioning the critique seems to be doing it in good faith, there are others who basically just wish to be judgmental.
Sit on a high horse feeling superior to others.
Who are these people that seem most likely to use this argument to feel superior or act judgemental?
First, you have the expat who feels like “HE AND ONLY HE KNOWS THE TRUE LATIN AMERICA!”
This is the type who goes off the tourist trail and feels like he is blazing paths WHERE NO OTHER GRINGO HAS BEEN BEFORE!
He believes himself to be some mini Christopher Columbus visiting areas NEVER SEEN BY FOREIGN EYES.
Such a character then judges you for sticking to the touristy trail or living in expat bubbles while he believes himself to be living the superior life because he fucked a monkey while doing cocaine on a hill overlooking a village in Costa Rica way back in 2004.
Second, you have the type of expat who hates seeing other expats come to Latin America.
Or at least their specific part of Latin America.
Over the last two years since Covid shit started, you had a ton of gringos escape to Mexico.
As a result, a lot of the gringos already living here are bitching about it.
Not all but plenty of them anyhow.
And so these types, who wish to have their corner of Latin America all to themselves, will come up with reasons to judge other gringos.
Third, you have some Mexican-Americans I have noticed who get judgemental about this also.
From my armchair psychological analysis, it comes across as something similar to when some of them get insecure about non-Latinos learning Spanish as I wrote here.
At the end of the day, you got some children of immigrants in the US who feel insecure about their identity or heritage because they might not speak the language perfectly or whatever else.
And so when they see a non-Latino speaking Spanish better than them or living in Mexico when they might not even have been to Mexico outside of a few trips to see some grandparents, then they feel insecure and start talking shit basically.
Fourth, you got xenophobic local types who just hate seeing too many foreigners occupying any space. You got these types anywhere in the world.
They might be OK with a few foreigners but once they perceive that too many have shown up and even influenced the local culture or are competing for the local women is when they start talking shit.
Though, in Mexico, they never get tired of taking your money at touristy areas!
Funny how that works.
Fifth, you have the snotty upper class fresa Mexicans who get all snobby also.
It’s always been my impression that some upper class Latin Americans, particularly if they have studied at a liberal arts school in the US, try to adopt “woke” language that they hear other gringos speaking.
Like a parrot with no new ideas.
These types are usually very young, most often women, odd hair colors, have traveled a bit, are VERY insistent on speaking English, go to events where other gringos hang out at and wish to parrot ideas that let them feel superior to foreigners in their country.
This type usually adopts the mindset that “all of Latin America’s problems are because of foreigners and none can be attributed to locals” like I wrote about here.
And, in the chat where this topic was discussed, we even have a chick who showed up with the same sentiment as you can see here.
Neocolonial for a random gringo to show up to Mexico, not take any jobs, not send billions of dollars back home and just relax with his buddies in a gentrified area?
At worst, he’s contributing to gentrification to an area already gentrified but not just by foreigners (like how 70% or more of people living in Roma Norte are Mexicans also for example).
The funny thing about this type of Mexican is that, while they might talk about neocolonialism, they only do so when talking about the negatives of foreigners in Mexico today.
They rarely look in a mirror and realize that, most of the time, they are white as fuck – white Mexicans as I wrote about here – where most of their ancestors were from Spain actually colonizing the living fuck out of Mexico.
Mention that to them though and you’ll see the mental gynmnastics at play to convince you that “no, no, no, it’s different, you see.”
So it’s different because my ancestors were immigrants from Ireland trying to make a living in the US in the 1800s but yours killed an indigenous village in Mexico by coughing on them?
And it’s somehow different for gringos to contribute to gentrification in areas like Roma Norte when said areas have more rich locals living there than rich foreigners?
At the end of the day, these types just want to feel superior but can’t realize that they are often guilty of the same shit that they accuse you of.
Oddly similar to how people will bitch about gringos not assimilating when plenty of Mexicans don’t assimilate in the US either.
But we’ll address that next!
Immigrants in the US Don’t Assimilate!
Next, we have this argument made by many people in the chat about how “it’s normal for people to not assimilate as much because they prefer to hang out with other people like them.”
In response, you got the argument made by others against this idea based on the grounds that “Americans who move to Mexico are rich and doing it for cheap cost of living while Mexicans moving to America are looking for the American dream.”
Here's some screenshots showing all of the above.
What is there to say?
This is arguably the most interesting point to consider.
There’s a lot to be said so many of the remaining points in this article will discuss this topic.
So let’s dive right in!
Do the Immigrants Not Assimilate?
First, let’s address the assumption – is it true that plenty of immigrants moving to the US don’t assimilate?
Not speak the local language, mostly hanging out with other immigrants like them, not engaging in American culture, etc?
Well, I can speak from personal experience but know that my personal experiences don’t reflect every single immigrant out there.
So, for one, I know of a few immigrants in my hometown in Iowa.
There’s a Mexican restaurant that I’ve known all my life where the female owner speaks English perfectly and, as far as I can remember, her husband always didn’t speak English too well in my opinion until the last few years where it’s sounded noticeably better than before.
Do they hang out with any locals? I have no idea but, given it’s small town Iowa, I imagine they don’t have too many Mexicans to hang out with.
I know they used to go to a local church somewhere and they run a business in the community serving locals.
Very much part of the community.
Outside of them, there’s another Mexican restaurant where a third of the employees don’t speak English very well or at all.
It’s actually to the point that I have to whip out my Spanish anytime my mom and I go there because I have to order for her if the waiter happens to not speak English.
No idea how “involved in the community” any of the waiters are but, given the lack of English, I can guess that maybe they mostly hang out with other Mexicans.
And outside of Iowa?
When I lived in Ohio going to college, there were many immigrants or foreign students studying at the college I went to.
While each one had their own level of assimilation (with a few oddly enough not being able to speak English seemingly despite going to a college in Ohio), almost all of them that I can think of mostly hung out with other people like them.
Those who were Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Nepali mostly hung out with each other (with a few exceptions).
Those who were Latino mostly hung out with other Latinos (though the Brazilian students often didn't hang out with other Brazilians and only amongst themselves).
Very little effort among many to make friends with folks that didn’t share the same background.
But those are just minor experiences and absolutely do not reflect every single immigrant in the US.
And, being honest, I can’t blame any of the ones I did know for mostly hanging out with other immigrants like them.
In the same way that I can’t blame gringos in Mexico for only hanging out with other gringos.
I agree with the sentiment that people tend to gravitate towards those who share the same culture and language.
Especially in a foreign environment of another country where it’s easier to feel lonely and isolated.
But, outside of my personal and limited experiences, what data do we have out there to help us understand a little more?
For one, we have this interesting article from Pew Research here.
First, it shows how most immigrants tend to gravitate towards urban areas.
Of course, the motivations for that could vary (like trying to find better jobs) but I also imagine part of the motivation is because it’s easier to find communities of people like them to hang out with.
What about English?
The same article says that, in 2018, 53% of immigrants are “English proficient.”
OK, well half isn’t the number I was hoping for but it’s not terrible like 10% or something.
That’s honestly surprising that the number is only half at being “English proficient.”
And, for the Mexicans who judge us gringos for not speaking Spanish in Mexico, I guess they should shut the fuck up?
Because, according to that same article, we have this bit here:
“Immigrants from Mexico have the lowest rates of English proficiency (34%), followed by those from Central America (35%), East and Southeast Asia (50%) and South America (56%). Immigrants from Canada (96%), Oceania (82%), Europe (75%) and sub-Saharan Africa (74%) have the highest rates of English proficiency.”
And you can’t give me shit about how “but Matthew, Mexico is poor and they don’t have the education system to learn English!”
Look at sub-Saharan Africa at 74%!
Not only are Mexicans literally the worst immigrant group for learning English supposedly but they’re even being beat by the sub-Saharan Africans!
Literally more than double what Mexicans bring to the table and Mexico is literally across our fucking border with some English language influence existing in the country.
This is a major L for the Mexicans and a major W for the Sub-Saharan Africans.
To you Sub-Saharan Africans of the world, I raise my drink of spiced rum and black tea to you wonderful people!
Outside of language anyhow, it was hard to find any data on “how many immigrants make friends with non-immigrants” or other measures of how much they interact with the community outside of their immigrant bubble.
I did find this article though with this interesting quote here:
“So, it comes as no surprise that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than the rest of the population. In 2019, immigrant entrepreneurs made up 21.7 percent of all business owners in the United States, despite making up just over 13.6 percent of the population and 17.1 percent of the U.S. labor force.”
Well, that’s definitely a sign of being part of the community!
And, unfortunately as I said before, that’s the only statistic I could find relevant to this topic because there’s not much data out their on the friendships made by immigrants.
If you have any idea of what else to look for, please suggest and I’ll include it here.
But, going with what we have, I can only guess based on what is most logical to me.
That being the likelihood that immigrants, as a whole, probably don’t assimilate as much as the locals might want in any part of the world but later generations of their kids and grandkids will obviously assimilate a lot more naturally.
Either way, similar to Mark, I can’t judge someone for not assimilating because, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, I don’t care really.
But let’s move on and focus on this argument with other points to bring up.
"They're Chasing a Better Life."
Next, you have that argument you saw before that we'll bring about about chasing a better life.
The basic idea being that you can’t compare immigrants going to the US to those expats in Mexico because one is retired with pensions wanting a cheap cost of living while the other is working hard to make ends meet.
Personally, I don’t think this argument makes a lot of sense.
It's similar to the argument made in a previous screenshot shown where someone said that South Florida is different because it's close to "Cuba and Caribbean."
How does that justify the Cubans in South Florida (or any other Latinos) not learning English?
And so, to me personally, that argument is the same as the one about immigrants working hard in the US.
One can live in an area with other Spanish speaking Cubans and still learn English.
And one can work hard and still learn English.
Obviously, working long hours or living with people who speak your native language will discourage or take time away from learning English but it's still not an excuse if you wish to move to another country with a different language.
Objectively speaking, it makes the immigrants in the US as guilty as the expats in Mexico when it comes to a lack of language learning.
But let's dig a little deeper on the comparison made between expats living on pensions in Mexico versus immigrants working in the US.
First, plenty of people on both sides are playing on the exchange rate advantage. Without the exchange rate, many on both sides would not have ended up in the country that they moved to.
You have immigrants who come to the US (not just from Mexico) primarily because they want USD earning jobs.
Because they can save up on USD like this guy I talked with here before coming back to Mexico and having a relatively decent life with their savings in a better currency.
Or perhaps they want to send that USD in the billions of dollars back home where family members can take that and spend it in pesos as you can read here.
“The United States is currently the largest source of international remittances in the world, sending a total of $148 billion in 2017. Mexico received the largest portion of these remittances, accounting for more than $30 billion USD.”
In contrast, the gringos going to Mexico are also just playing on a exchange rate advantage by taking their USD that they already earned or are earning online currently and spending that in pesos.
So I don’t see much difference on that alone – the practice is very similar in trying to exploit an exchange rate advantage for a better life.
Second, not every gringo who lives in Mexico is on a pension or retried like the guy above suggests.
Plenty of people, like me, still have to work to make ends meet.
On top of that, people like me are rejected from 99% of jobs in Mexico while plenty more illegal and legal immigrants in the US are taking jobs more than non-retired gringos taking jobs in Mexico.
For someone like me, I began my time here with the added stress of trying to figure out how to make money when most jobs are unavailable legally.
Similarly, I have met other gringos who had to learn how to make money independently and yet still found the time to learn Spanish.
You know how many of them did it?
By breaking out of the expat community and speaking to the locals (and probably dating a few local gals also).
So there's no excuse for most immigrants to not occasionally break out of their own bubbles and speak to locals (which, to be fair, probably a majority do but many don't also).
At any rate, call me in 50 years for when I can retire (literally 50 years, I’m young).
And, regardless of if the gringo in question is retired or still working, said gringos are also “looking for a better life.”
Like this woman who posted this comment below here. We gringos are often not hurting anyone, aren’t sending billions of dollars (or pesos?) from Mexico into the US, often are not taking local jobs (though some do) and want a better life also.
Plenty of the retried folks coming over don’t even make enough money to get temporary residency even though they have enough for a decent life in Mexico.
But their social security payments of 1,250 a month isn’t going to cut it in rural Wisconsin.
They also want a better life.
Yes, gringo expats usually (though not always) have a better life than most of the locals down here but most are not millionaires.
They want a easier life and that’s why many of them go to Mexico or elsewhere so that they don’t have to live poor as shit with the limited retirement fund they have.
Some with medical issues that would be bank breaking in the US but financially manageable in Mexico.
And, by the way, that retirement fund came after 40 years working 40 to 60 hours a week.
They worked hard too just like the immigrant who wants to come to America to work a job to also stack up USD that can be spent in pesos.
But there’s also an issue with that portrayal of the immigrant as someone who is poor but wanting to work hard in the US to get the American Dream.
Which is that not every immigrant to the US is some poor struggling dude doing his best to make it.
Every immigrant is different.
When I went to college, it was full of folks from other countries who were much better off financially than my family was because US schools like to attract richer foreigners that have parents who can afford the full tuition with no need for scholarships or loans.
Of course, like I said, the limited amount of foreigners I knew in the US don’t represent all immigrants either.
Either way, let’s not pretend that every single immigrant coming over is poor as fuck and struggling so much that they can’t afford the time to make a friend who isn’t like them in the US.
Because, to be fair, that's what I'm assuming is the connection these people making this argument are making to justify how it's bad for gringos to not be part of the community but not bad for Mexicans in the US to not be part of the community.
What other connection are they trying to make here to justify why immigrants up north can't do the same?
Because that seems to be the most likely argument based on the original conversation and the other instances where this argument comes up.
How, given these immigrants are just chasing the dream and trying to make it, then we shouldn’t judge them for not assimilating but we should judge gringos not assimilating in Mexico because they have it easy looking for a cheap cost of living.
Either way, I already addressed holes in that argument, including the following to summarize:
- Plenty of gringos in Mexico don't have retirement income and are working hard to make ends meet.
- Plenty of immigrants in the US do have it easy financially.
- A lot of retired folks had to work decades for the USD they bring to Mexico just like immigrants are working hard in the US for the same USD to send home or use if they return.
- Just because you are poor doesn't mean you can't make a friend outside of your immigrant community or learn English.
Though, for either the immigrant in the US or the expat in Mexico, my opinion is the same: if you’re happy not assimilating, then good for you. No judgment on my end.
Finally, it should be said that plenty of immigrants in the US do assimilate well, make local friends, etc.
Just to reiterate that point because plenty of immigrants in the US are like that in the same way that plenty of gringos, like myself, do assimilate to Mexico to whatever degree either party is comfortable.
But, before we go on, there is one type of immigrant that I could understand for not assimilating.
The Undocumented Immigrant
Finally, according to this source here from Pew, about 23% of immigrants in the US are “unauthorized.”
If we were to make exceptions for immigrants in the US as to why they don’t assimilate while still judging gringos in Mexico for not assimilating, this would be one argument that I could at least get behind.
If you’re undocumented in the US, then I get why you’re going to limit your assimilation.
At least in terms of making local friends and hanging out with the locals.
While I’ve never been illegal in the US, I can only imagine and imagine only that the stress and the different dynamics at play would limit the degree to which you want to interact with locals.
So I’ll leave it at that as it was one thing that crossed my mind when thinking about this subject.
So is it bad for the gringo to not assimilate in Latin America?
As I said, as long as he’s happy and not hurting anyone, then who gives a fuck.
If Mark wants to sip margaritas and fuck chicks in the ass all day on the beach, then leave him alone!
He’s a busy man!
You think he has time to learn Spanish or talk with a local about “yeah, yeah, I like the food in Mexico. Sure. Tacos tacos chimichangas. OK, Jose, I better get going.”
If that’s the life that Mark wants, then more power to him.
Though, as I said, I do believe it to be a waste of opportunity to not fully take advantage of all of the benefits of living abroad by leaving the expat bubble but whatever.
And, since we discussed it in detail, are immigrants of any nationality off the hook for not assimilating in the US?
If you’re going to judge Mark, then judge the immigrant in the US also.
Which, while the argument that immigrants are leaving a lot of experiences on the table by not assimilating is true, this argument really is made a lot of the time to just judge gringos but yet the people making the judgement get bitchy when you make them look at a mirror.
Obviously immigrants to the US have many different (and arguably similar) experiences to immigrants (or expats?) to Mexico but the point is that those different experiences don't make it any more justifiable for a Mexican in the US to not learn English when compared to a gringo not learning Spanish in Mexico.
Just because the immigrant still has to work for a living doesn’t mean he can’t occasionally make friends with someone outside of his immigrant community.
He could just as easily go into a Walmart, shake the employee’s hand at the cash register with strong eye contact and go “YOU! I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU! I COME FROM MEXICO!”
And, for the Mexican in the US or the gringo in Mexico, who wouldn’t want a new friend?
There’s a good song about making friends, don’t you know?
War -- Why Can't We Be Friends
Enjoy the song anyhow.
But that’s all I got to say for now on this topic.
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Thanks for reading.