As I wrote in this article here, I recently went to one of those “language exchange” events where they might help you practice a language in theory but mostly serve as a way to meet new people.
I’ve been trying to meet new folks just because I got so much free time.
While these events can sometimes serve well in finding a new cute chick to fuck, they also can be a cool way to make local friends or friends with other expats.
Being honest, I rarely meet new expats in Mexico City and there does come a time, about once every 6 months, where I contemplate what their lives are like.
Why did they come to Mexico?
What parts of the city do they know?
So on and so on.
At any rate, over the last month or so of occasionally meeting folks at events like this, I’ve come to have my theory validated that a lot of expats tend to be very snobby.
Not all of them obviously.
But you do have a certain degree of pretentious attitude among numerous expats.
Some who judge you based on having a better job as I wrote here.
Others who bring their social justice warrior attitude to Latin America and get VERY bitchy at anyone who has a different opinion.
And, as of not so long ago, I came across another type of odd behavior among some expats that is kinda funny when you think about it.
The “I’m the REAL expert on Latin America” type of gringo.
What do I mean?
“After 2 Years, I Know Everything!”
So, while at this event, I figured to get another mojito at some point.
Probably because mojitos are one of my favorite drinks but I’m not always feeling like making them at home.
With mojito in hand, some random chick begins talking with me.
She was some local chick who “wanted to practice English.”
Anyway, roll the clock like 30 minutes, and then we are part of some bigger group of people talking amongst ourselves.
The topics really don’t go very deep outside of the usual questions of “why are you in Mexico?” and “do you like Mexico?”
“Where do you live in Mexico City?” is a funny one also.
Almost everyone I encountered who was a foreigner was living in Roma Norte or Condesa as expected.
Be like if you met a bunch of Cubans in the US and they ALL live in Miami or something.
Anyway, there came a point at which some slightly older woman who could’ve easily been in her late 30s began talking with me.
At first, the conversation seemed pretty normal.
And then that local chick who “wanted to practice English” threw out that mentioned question of “what do you like and not like about Mexico?”
Now, when people answer the question about what they like, it seems like most just stick to the usual “good food, good weather, nice people, lovely culture.”
But when it comes to things “you don’t like,” you obviously have to be a little bit careful in response.
Either because you’re going to shatter the ego of a local Mexican or because you’ll invoke the insecure feelings of another foreigner who feels the need to be the Knight in Shining Armor to defend Mexico’s legacy against any valid criticism.
And really any criticism – no matter how valid – can invoke the wrath of either group above with usually idiotic statements that don’t sound very right.
Take for example the following:
Then someone responds “NO WAY MAN! I FEEL SAFER HERE THAN IN AMERICA! WHAT ABOUT THE VIOLENCE IN CHICAGO?!?”
To which, before said gringo can respond, maybe a local Mexican cries out “HEEY!! WE’RE AMERICA TOOO!!!!” with snot running down their nose.
Of course, the individual experiences of every gringo are different.
Some might truly feel safer down here while others are blowing smoke up their ass because they’re insecure about that criticism as it might poke a hole in their decision to move when so many back home have questioned it already.
Other gringos do truly feel safer depending on where they live and where they lived before
But also, while the US has plenty of its own safe areas like Mexico, it doesn’t make logical sense to compare the US to Mexico in this context in my opinion.
“I came from a shithole in Chicago where I hear gunshots all the time. Now I must move to another area where there is lots of violence.”
Which, to be fair, doesn’t invalidate their reasoning to be down here. There is plenty of good about Mexico and you probably won’t be shot at. It’s not like anyone is shooting at the beaches of Cancun where tourists go, right?
Anyway, that actual discussion was had at that event and is what sparked the disagreements.
I tried not to involve myself too heavily in the conversation but all of the talking points above were brought up before me.
All of them anyhow except the one about “how does it make sense to leave violent Chicago for violent Mexico if what you want to escape is violence?”
And believe me – I know plenty of areas in Mexico where you won’t hear gunshots or experience violence.
But it’s my general belief that the likelihood that you’ll be a witness to violence or corruption like cops demanding a bribe is within reason over enough time down here.
So the statement that Mexico “is so safe because look at Chicago” is kinda stupid.
Both can have their degree of danger that one must accept as a risk to live down here and enjoy the many benefits that come with living in Mexico.
But let’s not fool ourselves that there isn’t violence or corruption in Mexico just because Chicago is our pinata to compare it to.
At any rate, that’s what I said roughly speaking and it got that one older woman to be a bit snobby.
Initially, she just went on about how “she feels super safe here.”
“And, equally so, I felt super safe in Ohio. Mexico is a big country like the US where there are places you can feel safe but both areas have lots of violence. Just because the US has violence in various pockets doesn’t negate the reality that there’s a lot of violence in Mexico also. And, to a degree, most foreigners are probably sheltered to a degree from it.”
When I said something like that, she simply snapped and said something along the lines of “UH, well I’ve been in Mexico for almost 2 years. I KNOW Mexico pretty well. How long have you been here?”
At that point, I felt like laughing but held it back.
Wow – a full 2 years! You’re basically a Mexican!
Now, I wasn’t that much of a smartass to say that but that is what crossed my mind.
Anyway, I let out how long I’ve been here but didn’t try to rub it in here face.
When I did say how long I’ve been here, she just nodded away and mumbled something like “hm, ok.”
Then asked me “how old are you?”
“27” I said.
“How did you start out here so young?” she asked.
“Just did. Saved up and moved.” I said.
And we left it at that.
To be honest, I don’t think she believed me when I said how long I’ve been here.
And that’s just Mexico.
I could’ve really rubbed dirt into her face by discussing my years traveling through the rest of Latin America before my time in Mexico but I let it go.
Conversation carried with more people disagreeing about “Mexico being violent” as a true negative to the country or not.
It’s almost a scene made for American Psycho.
A bunch of wealthier gringos with more money than most locals standing around with drinks sayings things along the lines of…
“oh cmon now! Mexico isn’t that violent! I just had a nice cup of coffee at Starbucks in the nicest neighborhood of Mexcio City and nothing happened to me!”
With the following happening in the country often enough…
Not violent at all!
LOOK AT CHICAGO LOOK AT CHICAGO!!!
At any rate, the event carried on and that was it.
There’s really two points to discuss here.
We already beat the “it ain’t that violent” talking point to death here and probably in another article I wrote already if I had to guess.
So what are the points?
First, the disbelief at how young I was when I began living here is not too uncommon for anyone past the age of 35.
Months ago, I was looking at apartments near Agricola Oriental of Mexico City.
Standing in the metro, the landlord finds and walks me over to the place.
Was probably a 30 minute walk or so.
And it was the same thing.
When the dude did the math regarding my age and how long I’ve been here, it took him back.
“Wow! You were REALLY young when you began living here!”
It’s not uncommon for slightly older folks to find it weird.
Second, the bigger point at hand here is the “time superiority” that some gringos pull on others.
When there is a disagreement, some gringos can’t help themselves but use this argument when they don’t have any real argument to fall back on.
A simple “I know Mexico better than you. Shut the fuck up.”
Is it appropriate?
If you were to bring together a gringo with a one week experience in Mexico versus one with 5 years, obviously one is going to understand things better than the other.
And the latter is likely to notice not only certain cultural details that the other is unaware of but also notice long term changes that the former would have no experience to notice.
Like how I wrote here regarding small progress in certain communities that you could only appreciate if you’ve been here for years.
So, to a degree, time matters.
Though it’s not just time but also experience.
I’ve been here for almost 5 years now (getting there anyhow!).
But yet I have never bought or even tried to buy a house in Mexico.
I’ve heard horror stories of others getting fucked over in buying property but never done it myself.
So, if a gringo were to come to Mexico and buy a house after 9 months of being here, he doesn’t have the full 5 years of experience as the gringo who does but he might have experience in something deeper that the gringo with 5 years doesn’t.
While said gringo of 5 years knows Mexico and has numerous experiences in many other things, he doesn’t know anything about buying a house and can’t lecture Mr. Property Owner about it despite his time superiority.
So, in short, time experience can be relevant to a conversation.
However, I feel it’s a bit rude to bring it up sometimes.
It comes across as snobby sometimes (especially if both parties involved have plenty of experience in Mexico).
Is the person with maybe 8 years really that much more of an expert than the one with 5 years to the point that that the time difference of 3 years really means the former is right and the latter isn’t during an argument?
All things being equal, I’d say no.
It’d depend on what the topic is and how much experience they have with it (like buying a house).
In some contexts, bringing up the amount of time you’ve spent here looks more like a last minute argument you pulled out of your ass when you got nothing important to say.
And, as I said, it can look very snobby.
Also, above all, while gringos can absolutely be experts on Mexico, I do find a certain degree of humor in it when none of us were born in the country.
Imagine the thoughts going on inside that local Mexican chick’s head when she sees two gringos going at it over “who is the real expert of Mexico” with one swinging around 2 years and the other casually mentioning his 5 years of experience.
Would’ve been a perfect moment for her to go “excuse me people, I am THE REAL expert of Mexico.”
Of course, Mexicans can be full of shit too when arguing with them but, if we’re basing this all on time, then shouldn’t we have shut up and listened to her speak?
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.