All you need to know about Iberian America

The “It Could Always Be Worse” Gringo

When I was living in Xela, Guatemala, I remember meeting some European dude who was a professional photographer.

He was like a digital nomad type in that he was traveling around country to country from what I knew and paid for it by taking professional photographers.

Or I guess he did anyway since I have no other idea how he made the money to support his travels.

At any rate, I remember standing outside some Spanish language school with him while waiting for the owner to show up and unlock the door at around 8 AM.

We were both studying at this school where they basically had informal teachers rotate on teaching us Spanish every few weeks.

While waiting, we had the pleasant scene of what Xela of Guatemala looked like before our eyes.

A bunch of trash bags dumped on the side of the road (along with other trash) and you had these large buses that would drive by in front of us letting out a shit ton of pollution.

Like you'd have to hold your breath or some shit because it was kinda bad.

And I remember saying something to him about how "pollution here seems like shit."

With trash just being dumped in the side of the street in all directions and all this pollution being let out from buses that you never seen before in Iowa that is not pleasant having blast in front of your face.

He nodded.

But then squinted his eyes, shrugged his shoulders and said something to the effect of "it could be worse. It's not like India."

Having never been to India myself, I can't say how bad India is compared to Guatemala.

I have heard though from other travelers that India sucks dick when it comes to pollution but I can't comment with no experience of my own over there.

And, while he might've been right that India is worse, what he said is typical of a certain type of expat or traveler when confronted with a negative situation somewhere.

And, being honest, I'm sure I've been guilty of it also.

None of us are above it.

A type of statement anyway that I heard again recently which reminded me of this topic.

"The Traffic Could Be Worse. It Could be India"

No fucking joke, man.

It must be my luck that everyone hates India.

The other day, I remember going to some mini event held by other foreigners where this one dude named Matt and his girlfriend were new to Mexico City and wanted to meet some new people.

They all agreed to meet up at some place and I showed up.

While sitting down and having a conversation, we got talking about life in Mexico City obviously.

Some of us have been here for a while and others were relatively new.

And, in our conversation, someone began complaining about traffic in Mexico City.

They were giving the usual complaints anyone would have: it's chaotic, sometimes seems like drivers want to run you over purposefully, etc.

And it again happened.

Some random chick -- who I guess has traveled around the world -- replies "well, it could be worse. It COULD be like India."

No fucking joke.

I guess she has been to India also and hates it just like the European dude in Guatemala.

Is traffic in India also shit?

Who knows!

But it is what it is.

Another person who tries to dismiss the complaint one has about a location because "it could be worse, could be like THIS area."

And, when people bring up this talking point, one thing they often do is bring it up when discussions of crime comes up as I've written about on my blog before.

"At Least it's Not Chicago"

This is by far one of the most common ways people bring up this talking point in which they want to dismiss the concerns people have about crime in Latin America.

Someone will bring up the issue of crime.

Another person feels insecure about said issue being brought up.

Perhaps they had way too many family members and friends back home judge their decision to move to a land known for crime.

Maybe it's a local Latin American who is insecure about this shit being brought up because they've heard it all before many times over.

Therefore, when it gets brought up, they reply with "well, x Latin American city is actually safer than cities in the US like Chicago."

Which, as I wrote here, isn't always true (could be though!) because crime statistics down here are not as well reported as they are in the US.

Which isn't to say that the US is solid on crime statistics reporting either but I would bet you it is better than most of Latin America.

And, even if it wasn't and most cities in the US happened to be more dangerous than the dangerous cities down here, that wouldn't matter, would it?

If you come from a dangerous neighborhood of Chicago, why the fuck would you move to a dangerous area of Latin America if you want to get away from crime?

Just because you got dangerous areas in the US or other countries doesn't take away from the fact that crime is an issue down here nor does it make it more justifiable to live down here for those scared of crime (especially when someone bringing up the "Chicago" argument is just insecure about his country's perception and doesn't want tourism to dry up).

Anyway, when people bring up "the other place" to compare the current place to, it is quite often that it is done within a conversation about crime.

Final Thoughts

Let's wrap this up.

Why do people bring up this "well, it's not like x place" argument?

There are various reasons in my opinion.

First, sometimes there is no reason. They just are bringing in a perspective based on their life experience. Feel like adding to the conversation. Nothing more.

Second, sometimes it could be insecurity when confronted with a negative about the place you are discussing. Like when we discussed the topic of crime.

Third, sometimes I feel some folks want to give this perception of being wise and knowing it all. As I wrote here, you have no shortage of expats who want to feel superior than other expats based on their knowledge of the local language or time spent abroad.

I definitely see some of these types bringing up "that other country" because they want a moment to come across as even more well-traveled and this is their time to shine comparing completely different countries to each other and claiming to know how it across the world.

....Even if their time in "that other country" consisted of writing Fiverr articles in a hostel.

Anyway, that's all that comes to mind right now.

I don't actually dislike it when people bring up "the other country."

Though I do find it to be very disingenuous when it is used to dismiss an accurate concern of an expat about any specific country.

But it is what it is.

Got anything to add?

Drop a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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