- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- The Gringo Love & The Local Hate for Local Customs in Latin America
A great irony you see sometimes in Latin America is when a gringo loves a certain custom but a local Latin American hates it.
The gringo -- who isn't even from Latin America obviously -- might even say that the local custom in question makes Latin America "Latin America."
It's what gives the region authenticity.
Meanwhile, the Latin American -- who has lived with the custom his whole life -- does not feel it makes the region what it is.
Quite frankly, he could wipe his ass with such compliments because he doesn't give a fuck what is "authentic" or not.
He just wants things to run more smoothly and sees said local custom to be a negative on the community.
Sometimes the local hates the local custom because he associates it with poor "nacos."
A form of classism really.
And sometimes he hates it because genuinely there is shit about the custom that is just annoying for him.
And the gringo in question might not even notice the annoyances the local would have because of differences in lifestyle and also because said gringo has surface level knowledge of the region that doesn't go as far as the local who has lived here all his life.
That isn't to say that said gringo can't realize things about here that the local doesn't. That does happen.
But this is not one of those cases.
In the end, I just see it as one of those great ironies where the foreigner is the one liking the local custom and even marking it as an example of "authenticity" in Latin America when some actual Latin Americans fucking hate the local custom.
A month or two ago, I was reminded again of this small detail to life in Latin America.
The Love & Hate for Tianguis in Latin America
Over a month or two ago (whenever it was now), I went to some minor bar event in Mexico City full of other foreigners.
A few Mexicans in the mix.
Anyway, it was one of those "language" events to "practice languages" but, as I wrote here, actually serve mostly to meet new people, have drinks and maybe find someone to hook up with.
Not as much emphasis on the language learning.
Anyway, at the event, we were all sitting down at a table and having a brief discussion from topic to topic.
And some random gringo new to Mexico City mentioned his love for tianguis.
Which, for those who don't know, are basically street markets as you can see here.
And he was going off on how "it's authentic to Mexico, something you don't see back home, etc."
Funny enough, there was an actual Mexican in the group.
A few actually.
The one who spoke up and disagreed with him happened to be some fresa looking type who probably would look down on going to such markets.
And gave a counter opinion in regards to how it fucks up traffic and makes it harder to navigate the city by car.
To which the gringo -- funny enough -- mentioned "well, it's not hard to get around Mexico City. There's the metro."
You should've seen the fresa's face and all its cringe. Dude looked like he saw someone defecate in public.
At any rate, the conversation didn't go much farther than that but I have had or seen similar moments.
The Gringo Love for Bribes in Mexico
Some months ago, I remember a similar moment where I was talking with a former roommate of mine named Andrea.
Andrea was a Mexican dude who preferred to be called Andrea.
Anyway, while I was getting some water hot to make tea, Andrea came out of the kitchen to talk with me.
He wanted to know more about me. My life in Mexico. Why I live here.
So on and so on.
I end up telling him about a story of cops extorting me for money as you can read here.
And I end up telling him that -- while I don't like being extorted -- the fact that you can bribe cops down here is something I like about Mexico.
He immediately went "nooo!!! It's corruption!"
Or something like that.
He disagreed anyway but the point was he almost seemed shocked that I see some benefits to the "bribing" down here.
To me, it means extra risk of cops fucking with you but it also means doing stupid shit that you can get away with by just throwing 5 to 20 bucks at someone.
To Andrea (who probably earned like 5000 or 6000 pesos a month), it means corruption and he doesn't always have a free 10 to 20 bucks to piss away.
So we disagreed on how bad or good bribing cops really was.
But nothing more.
I could go on with more examples but you get the point.
Sometimes there are things about life down here that some locals hate but that gringos love.
There are various reasons for this depending on the circumstance.
First, as we saw with the bribing example, it could come from, in part, a difference in income and greater ability to exploit a local custom that a local can't as easily exploit (in this case due to financial differences) as a gringo could.
Second, perhaps in the tianguis example, sometimes it comes down to a wealthier fresa local looking down on certain local customs as being "naco" but the gringo doesn't hold such bias against customs done by poorer people.
Third, in the case of tianguis, keep in mind that informal markets often do have stolen goods to sell like I wrote here.
In that case, sometimes the gringo doesn't give a fuck if it is stolen because he doesn't see himself as part of the community and doesn't hold as much anger towards those who steal from locals on combis or whatever.
Also, it could be just ignorance (the most likely case). Said gringo simply is ignorant of the fact that the shit he is buying could be stolen because of limited experience & knowledge.
Fourth, sometimes the gringo likes certain local customs simply because they are different.
He travels. New to the country. Finds different customs to be interesting. To the local who was born down here, said customs are not so interesting. They are normal and perhaps annoying.
Fifth, sometimes the gringo is just bending over backwards to be overly PC and can't imagine offering ANY critique of another country (and, if it's a more liberal gringo, that would mean any country full of brown people).
Said gringo might see offering critiques as racist, neocolonialist or whatever terms the kids these days from college use.
So said gringo might -- on a deep level -- think of said local custom as retarded -- but he isn't going to admit that.
Anyway, that's all I got to say for now.
Here's some comments by the way I saw on Facebook of locals bitching about tianguis in Tepito (something gringos looking to "experiment" with rough neighborhoods would love to enjoy).
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Thanks for reading.