- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- The Abundance of America over Latin America
Richard married a beautiful Latina woman of Rurrenabaque, Bolivia.
While she is indigenous and doesn't even speak Spanish while Richard doesn't speak her native language nor Spanish himself, they make it work.
Communication can be difficult.
But a simple use of hand gestures and noises can get a message across linguistic and cultural obstacles.
After taking her back to the US, Richard shows her the Great Life of America.
All of the abundance that she has never been exposed to before!
With shopping cart in hand, he points at the numerous brands of toilet paper while making a "monkey style noise."
He grabs one of the brands.
And does a game of Charades where he pretends to be a man cleaning his own ass while repeatedly pointing at the toilet paper and back at her.
She looks at him like he's retarded.
But he believes that he is teaching her "the Abundance of America" with all of our great options of toilet paper to choose from!
The game continues.
Be it in the fruit and vegetable area.
Not to forget the section involving all of the various brands of salt and pepper.
And let's remember all the different brands of chocolate we have!
Maybe a trip down the aisle that has the numerous brands of toothpaste?
Don't forget the area that has all the socks!
It is moments like this where we must teach the little Latin American the "Abundance of America" that they are not used to.
For they came from the deepest villages of the Amazon where only one fruit, one type of meat, one brand of toothpaste and toilet paper and more were available.
Our little Latin American -- after experiencing such a moment of Abundance -- drops to her knees and begins sobbing with gratitude.
"Gracias, Sr. Americano! Gracias! Ya tenemos todo!"
Richard begins to unzip his pants.
"Ya sabes como agradecerme" he whispers seductively.
And, in front of the hundreds of people in the grocery store, the image of a little Latin American giving gratitude to the White American Cock is burned forever into their memories.
It a moment common among many.
The other big Americans in the area are used to it!
A sight to be seen every Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday whenever another American brings his Latin American wife to the grocery store.
Where just another little Latin American is "giving gratitude" to the big American helping her escape from a life of simplicity and into a life of Abundance.
The Abundance of America.
The Abundance of America?
While I have no doubt that the scenario above has happened at least once somewhere in the US, it touches on a sensitive topic for some Latin Americans.
The topic at hand being this idea that Latin America has nothing and the US has everything.
In the most extreme application of the idea above, that's how it plays out.
For example, as I wrote here, you have no shortage of folks back home who literally have asked me the following:
- Does Mexico have soap?
- Does Mexico have vehicles?
- Does Mexico have airplanes run by pilots who aren't drunk on tequila?
- Does Argentina have the internet?
- Does Colombia have phones?
And, in the first question listed above, I actually pissed off a random Mexican chick I hooked up with because I told her that I had a family member who doubted that possibility and she ended up buying me a free meal at Burger King to show me that "in Mexico, we have money too!"
More on that incident in this article here.
WRITE THAT DOWN WRITE THAT DOWN: Want a free meal at Burger King? Just tell your Mexicana that people think her country is too poor to afford soap. It works! I tried it!
Now, to be fair, you might assume that it's JUST folks back home who think that nobody down here has anything.
Those with more experience in Latin America wouldn't hold such silly ideas, would they?
Well, that isn't true either!
While expats or immigrants from the US that live down here are not so blind to think that "soap" and "the internet" are non-existent down here, many do think though that there is a relative lack of abundance compared to life back home.
For a funny example of such, here's a video of an American man named Paul who takes his Brazilian wife from the Amazon of Brazil grocery shopping where he is trying to impress her with all the various options of fruit that they have.
Paul Karine Going to Supermarket 90 Day Fiance
As you can see in the video, she isn't very impressed because, in her words, "in Brazil, we have supermarkets also."
And, on the topic of variety of fruit, I imagine that the Amazon Rainforest has no shortage of that.
Regardless of how silly that video is, I quite frankly agree with those that claim there is relatively more abundance in the US than in Latin America for various reasons.
There's numerous ways to address this topic with a lot of thoughts that have come to mind over the years.
Naturally, some thoughts come to mind but they slip away and I forget about them in the moment as I write this.
Regardless, let's break down each thought I've had addressing this topic.
Time & Geography
I first arrived to Latin America in early to mid March of 2014 for a quick trip.
Most of my earliest trips didn't include going to Cancun or Rio de Janeiro.
While I did visit some more developed areas like Buenos Aires, a lot of my earliest places I visited were not overly developed.
One thing I noticed very early on though was that Latin America was lacking in certain snacks I missed from back home.
For example, when I lived in a Bolivian city called Cochabamba around the summer of 2015, I remember finding it difficult to find certain brands of snacks that I missed.
It was the same observation I had a year earlier when I spent a few months in Guatemala.
My main impression though was that it was harder to find varieties of certain snacks (like how cheetos or pringles has various types like onion flavored, nacho flavored, etc) but that it wasn't too difficult to find certain local brands that kinda resembled what I was looking for but were not exactly the same of those back home.
Which is a side point when talking about abundance in Latin America: sometimes you might notice how you have more varieties of certain products or even more variety of a certain brand back home but find it harder to find such variety down here.
However, if you keep your eyes open to local brands (which are not always as nice as those back home), then you can kinda find what you are looking for.
But keep in mind I am talking about my earliest years down here in 2014 and 2015 in cities that few gringos give a fuck about.
In contrast, I found an interesting article here by a gringo who spent a decent amount of time in the capital of Peru where, from what he observed since 2008, he has seen more varieties in certain snack brands exported to Peru from the US.
Here's a few key quotes from the beginning of the article that touches well on what we are talking about here:
"One criticism of American capitalism is the endless amount of variations of standard products. At worst, it’s excessive materialism. While each single innovation on standard toothpaste might be justified, the end effect of all the innovations is a paradox of choice in the toothpaste aisle of Walmart because, when it’s all said and done, I just want toothpaste and I don’t know which one to buy.
That endless innovation is starting to arrive in Latin America. When I first moved to Peru in 2008, I believe the extent of salty snack options from the United States included classic Doritos and classic Lay’s potato chips.
Since then, Lay’s has over a dozen variations of potato chips with various flavors distributed among classic cuts, ripples, “hilos” and “Stax.” Maybe more."
In short, both geography and time matter.
To be fair, there's some degree to which I can't relate to what is written in the article above because I wasn't down here since 2008.
I imagine that the "abundance" of options you have for products like toothpaste or doritos only increased over the years but also some cities have more abundance than others obviously.
While I sit here in a more developed and international place like Mexico City now in 2022 instead of 2014, I can say that the "lack of options" isn't so much an issue right now.
In fact, I ordered a bottle of vodka today from a brand called Zaverich as you can see here.
Normally, I'd just get "premium" vodka that tastes like any other vodka brand but I found a special offer on Uber Eats for this "vodka con frutas rojos" option.
Among other options I saw today when looking through Uber Eats.
Not to mention any other story I can throw out there about my last visit to the supermarket to buy toothpaste, toilet paper or whatever.
There's no shortage of options of abundance here in Mexico City.
And, if I was to revisit areas like Cochabamba or Xela, I would wonder genuinely if I would see this "lack of abundance" again now that it's been almost a decade since I've been in either place.
I doubt it to some degree (especially if we considered again the local brand options that are diversified like mentioned).
Within Latin America, if I had to guess, perhaps I'd have less options if I went to some country like Cuba or Venezuela that has import restrictions.
Or, if we really wanted to get to the nuances of it, how about small towns?
When the abundance of foreign countries isn't as prevalent (like in small towns that are not touristy), you might see the discrepancy in abundance more clearly like you would if you perhaps visited Lima in 2008 (or even worse).
In Mexico, I remember visiting quite often this small town known as Ixmiquilpan of Hidalgo.
And I am from a small town myself in a "fly over state" known as Iowa.
I can tell you from experience that we definitely have "more abundance" in small town Iowa than Ixmiquilpan.
But, to be fair, even Ixmiquilpan impressed me.
It had a Subway.
But it also wasn't as "underdeveloped" as I had expected after having some experience visiting a few small towns in Latin America.
So, on one hand, one could argue if this discrepancy in abundance is more noticeable when comparing USA small town to Latin America small town.
But also, if I had to extend from that point, one could argue if this is an example of how the "lack of abundance" is more noticeable in areas with less influence from the US or other countries (where trade reaches less).
After all, most of the local brands selling their own potato chips, toothpaste or whatever don't offer as much variety as those back home (even if they try)and would have more influence in those small towns than the brands from the US who don't see it as necessary to get their products into random small towns of Latin America.
And, keep in mind, Mexico is largely more "Americanized" than other Latin American countries (even Ixmiquilpan had a Subway at least).
But even in said small town -- with my visits to the area over the months as I dated a gal from there -- it became apparent the "lack of variety" when compared to nearby places like Pachuca or Mexico City or the US.
So, above all, time and geography have importance when discussing this.
The Lack of Soap & Internet
Let's just quickly go through this topic since we covered it already.
We already heard about the oddity of gringos back home wondering if "the internet" or "soap" exist down here.
Let's move on.
Grocery Store Abundance?
Do grocery stores have more abundance generally speaking?
Or shopping malls?
Honestly, I've visited even grocery stores or shopping malls in less than ideal neighborhoods of Mexico City and less popular cities like Barranquilla like Colombia.
I kinda get where gringos come with this but not entirely.
You have plenty of options in said areas to buy from but you do have less options in general.
Just the other day, I went to a Soriana Supermarket of Mexico City looking to buy some soap.
This is what I bought here.
But they didn't have many other other brands (like 2 or 3 more?) and that was it.
Though, if I'm being honest, I didn't really give a shit.
On one hand, one could see the benefit of this in that you just grab one and move on.
No need to over analyze which is better.
Sometimes too much choice can be weird.
So, even here in my area of Mexico City in 2022, you might not technically have as much choice as what you find in a Walmart of small town Iowa in 2022 at the supermarkets.
At least when it comes to soap.
But, like I said, it doesn't matter and you got enough choices anyhow.
A Wrong Perception of Lack of Choice
There are some things from back home I miss.
Here in Mexico City, we do have a few Wendys here and there but they are largely located in very random locations harder to get to that it's just not worth it.
I also miss Jimmy Johns.
Among other brands.
Having said that, it doesn't mean that Mexico City (or other Latin American cities) are lacking in choice for french fries or sandwiches.
But what I'm saying is that I can easily see a gringo saying that "there are less choices down here" only because his specific brand that he misses is not as easily found down here while you have local brands offering the same thing (sometimes of lesser quality perhaps to be fair).
Take "solchesitos" from Mexico for example.
Basically cheetos but Mexican version.
Even if we didn't have actual cheetos (we do), we at least have this.
It doesn't mean you are lacking options.
Well, the options might be shit compared to back home.
But you do got options!
Only that you miss the very specific brands from back home that you wish you had again.
Having said that, it could be that your said location is just shit for offering numerous options for something you want.
For example, I have found most of Latin America (including Mexico) to be absolutely shit with offering bagels.
That isn't to say you can't find a bagel down here.
And there are no specific bagel brands (outside of the All American Bagel) that I miss from back home.
Quite frankly, any brand of bagels back home would kick the living shit out of most bagel options down here.
It just seems to be, from my experience, that "bagel options" are not as common or well-developed down here in large part due to lack of local demand for it compared to back home.
So sometimes it might not be a sign of the country not being rich enough for those options you crave but simply more of the locals don't give a fuck about them.
In the same way a stereotypical American might miss Taco Bell or Taco Johns even if he enjoys more authentic Mexican tacos .
Mexicans could afford to support Taco Bell or Taco Johns but they don't want to because it doesn't appeal to them.
So, when speaking of abundance, it's not always fair to claim that x Latin American country lacking a specific brand is evidence of "lack of abundance" when it might be instead that said brand or said type of food just isn't popular enough among the locals to be as common and diversified enough.
Nothing to do with their ability to afford it.
Speaking of food though...
The Abundance of Food Options
I'm a bit drunk right now (enjoying that cherry red fruit vodka option -- oh the abundance of Mexico!), so I'll keep it quick here.
You genuinely have more "food options" in the US than in most countries of the world.
That isn't to say that you can't find sushi or Chinese food or Peruvian food or whatever in Mexico or Argentina or Poland or whatever.
Only that the US tends to have more immigrants from more diverse sources of the world and a small percentage of those are likely to open restaurants bringing their food to our country.
So, when speaking of abundance, you got more options and diversity of food up there than down here.
The Menu is Lying
On top of that, I have more likely been able to trust the menu given to me up there than down here.
What I mean is that -- when speaking of abundance -- is that places in the US tend to more likely have what is on the menu or what they are selling than down here.
It's a weekly occurrence down here for someone to tell me that they ran out of whatever they are selling.
Back home in the US (small town Iowa no less, not NYC), this was never an issue.
So, when speaking of abundance, this is one thing to consider.
Places back home always have what you are looking for (well, usually anyway maybe not always but always in my experience) but never down here.
You have to get used to places down here more quickly running out of whatever they are selling as I wrote more about here.
Granted, in these days of 2022, perhaps we Americans can't be talking shit about this given the controversy surrounding baby formula as you can see here.
Baby Formula shortage 2022
Outside of that though, I'll stand by what I'm saying.
As I wrote here, it's not unheard of for a Latin American to ask you to buy some phone or whatever back in the US and he'll give you the money for it when you get back.
Not because said technology doesn't exist down here (like the latest iphone) but that it is much more expensive down here than up there.
Despite how cheap people say Latin America is, technology tends to be one thing that isn't so cheap (unless you are buying a burner phone stolen from someone in El Centro).
So, when it comes to abundance, obviously price matters as to how well the average person can afford it and the cheaper price behind technology back home makes things like phones more "financially abundant" for the average person back home than down here perhaps.
Abandoned Houses & Welfare
Given I have never used American welfare or grew up in a big city of the US, there are some things I would not have noticed otherwise when it comes to abundance in the US.
Both of the examples I am about to bring up are due to an article I read that deserves the credit for mentioning this as you can read it here.
The examples of "abundance" provided are the following:
1. How a lot of houses in urban areas are basically abandoned (think about it : abandoned houses? An excess of houses that we could use but don't).
2. The welfare system of the US that does a better job at helping the poor than the welfare system of what you find in Latin American countries.
I'm not going to expand on this topic though because I don't have any personal experience with it. It was interesting to read these examples though and you can read more into it by clicking on t he last link provided.
But here's some quotes to help you get an idea of what is being talked about:
"Abandoned houses. Boarded up windows on empty houses, and empty commercial buildings on the avenues. Think about that, from the perspective of a Latin American. Abandoned houses. A building, an expensive manufactured good, that has been abandoned. It’s an unbelievable idea.
In Latin America, the poor neighborhoods are shantytowns. In Peru, they’re known as “pueblos jovenes” (young towns) because they were built recently. Destitute people with no place to live acquire the raw materials, stake out some land several miles away from the city (or on a steep mountainside) and build a rudimentary shelter. It’s completely informal and “extralegal.” In time the area gets electricity and water. The government eventually comes in and formalizes the district."
And then when it comes to welfare here:
"....that it’s becoming a national issue again. Specifically food stamps (EBT cards) are getting too easy to get. I was denied, but a Michigan lottery woman gained national fame when she was found to be using her food benefits from the state."
The only thing I would add though is that you do have buildings and apartments not utilized for renting out down here in Mexico City (and elsewhere?) because owners can't find someone to rent out at the price they demand.
I could show you streets that have homeless people and apartment buildings in the same street that are not being rented out because few in the market can afford them.
So, when it comes to the housing situation, I'm not entirely sure how different it is compared to the US because I grew up in a small town and not a big city.
Still, when speaking of "pueblos jovenes," I do have experience with that personally as I kinda live in one right now (if going by his description) as I wrote here.
Even where I am now, I could find buildings not occupied by anyone (but they might not be as much as what you'd find in a poor urban area of the US but I have no idea).
Anyway, I'll leave it at that.
It's an interesting detail anyhow when considering the topic of "abundance" from the US to Latin America.
The Low Cost of Living Impact on Abundance
When speaking of abundance, it is necessary to consider from whose perspective are we talking about.
Generally speaking, I think your average expat -- even if poorer or not overly wealthy -- has greater ability to experience abundance than if he was living in Latin America.
Both material and time abundance.
Of course, it depends on how he structures his life, how much time he has, etc.
And what I'm about to say goes a bit beyond the original topic of which region (US/Canada or Latin America) has more varieties of doritos.
But I think this topic goes beyond the brands of doritos involved.
Since I'm ready to finish this article, I'll quickly summarize what I'm saying as the following:
1. Because of the cheaper cost of living, said gringo can get more "bang for his buck" and more in his life for less money down here and have more abundance that way than he could if he lived in the US.
2. Given the low cost of living, said gringo can more easily be self-employed than when he was back home and, for various reasons, he'll have more free time in his life on a day to day basis (especially if he has no children). More abundance of time in that case.
Lower Standards for Abundance
The other day, I went into a pharmacy and bought TRT.
No need to show a doctor's prescription for it.
Just bought it.
Similarly, if I wanted to, I could buy other things quite easily down here over the counter without doctor approval where said doctor approval would be needed back home.
Perhaps, when speaking of abundance, this is more relevant to the medical field.
But I'd bet it extends beyond medicine.
While the US also has it legal to buy things like TRT, the difference is the easier access to all of these things over the counter (or anything else that might have more restrictions in the US but not so down here).
Outside of the medical field, one example I could think of are Cuban cigars.
Never tried buying one in the US (did have some down here though) but, if I had to guess, maybe they'd be harder to get up north.
Similar to other things like ayahuasca perhaps as another example.
Similarly, you have plenty of folks who can more easily buy pirated foods on the street.
As you can see in this article here, inflation has hit Mexico also (less so us gringos) and so more people are turning to pirated goods.
"Ocho de cada 10 consumidores en México están preocupados por la inflación, de acuerdo con la encuesta más reciente de Deloitte “Global State of the Consumer Tracker”, que detalla algunas de las percepciones de los mexicanos, por ejemplo, al cierre de abril, el 80% considera que los precios de los alimentos son más elevados.
Así, al realizar compras en tiempos de elevada inflación, los consumidores se atreven a ser infieles a sus marcas predilectas, reducen su volumen de compra y hasta optan por adquirir piratería."
How many people do you know in the US who can just walk down the street and buy pirated or stolen shit being sold right there feet from your apartment?
Here in Mexico City, they sell shit like that each day about 20 feet from my apartment.
Abundance (of stolen shit!)
Or whatever the hell else.
When talking about abundance, you can't ignore how hard or easy the availability is (with whatever restrictions that are or are not enforced).
While there are points to suggest that "abundance" is easier to have in the US, this is one point in favor of Latin America.
I have never had a mortgage or car loan in the US or Latin America.
When I lived in the US, I did have a very cheap 97 red chevy truck but with no car loan given to me when a teenager.
So I can't talk from personal experience when it comes to loans.
All I can say is that, from what I have heard from other expats, it is harder to get a loan down here.
Because they are foreigners and harder to get approved for sure (so less abundance in that regard).
But also supposedly loans have higher interest rates down here.
I can't speak from personal experience though so I'm just going to leave it at that.
The Philosophy of Abundance
Finally, you have some say that "having too many material possessions doesn't make you happy."
These same folks might comment on how, as I wrote about here, "poor Latin Americans seem happier than Americans back home."
All I can say is shut up.
I find the idea to be kinda stupid.
It is true though that being overly focused on wealth won't make you happy in of itself.
And you got plenty who are happy "in their place" without much in life.
But, at the same time, you don't live in the same neighorbood of those people.
You don't know the stresses of them.
I kinda do since I live in a "barrio popular" and have spent half of my time in Mexico in "less than ideal" areas as of this writing.
Not saying they are depressed with a gun to the head but they aren't all singing and dancing everyday.
Sure, in of itself, material wealth won't make you happy and the "abundance" with it won't either by itself.
But anyone who is said didn't become more sad because he had to choose which brand of doritos or cheetos to pick from.
....or which brand of vodka!
I'll leave it at that.
Anything to Add?
These were all the quick points that came to mind when thinking of what to write for this topic.
But, as I said before, there were probably a few that escaped my head while writing this out.
If you have anything to add or even agree or disagree with what is written here, drop a comment below.
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And, for those who like abundance, enjoy this music of "Vaporwave Capitalism" here.
Thanks for reading.