A few odd weeks ago, I was still living in Tlahuac of Mexico City.
I had left some park in Xochimilco area.
Being a bit tired, I figured I'd skip some plant and flowers market that was across the street because I was tired and genuinely don't give a fuck about plants and flowers.
So I sit down with the crowd looking at all of the combis and buses that are passing by.
One stopped by and I asked the dude "are you going to Metro Olivos?" in Spanish.
The dude had what I call a "what the fuck? a gringo?" look on his face.
The type of look you see among some Latin Americans that isn't xenophobic but just one of confusion where the motherfucker can't believe he is looking at a gringo in the area.
Which, to be fair, was a little weird given we were not necessarily in an area that devoid of gringos.
Sure, I didn't see any gringos at the specific park I went to in Xochimilco but they're probably like 10 minutes away by some departure point to get on the trajineras.
Anyway, the dude asked repeated back to me "Olivos?"
He waves the finger, says "no" and moves forward.
And I unfortunately couldn't find any bus or combi passing by that would take me there.
Soon enough after whatever short period of time, I figured that I'd just get into a taxi.
Was just 40 pesos or something like that to get back home.
As I got into the taxi, I begin making small talk in Spanish with the driver.
He asks me where I'm from.
And, for those who don't know, I tend to tell people I'm Russian sometimes when they are complete strangers and I don't feel like having them "practice their English" on me.
I just don't like it when they do that for various reasons so I sometimes pretend to not know English so they stop.
Anyway, I tell him I'm Russian.
And he seems friendly overall at first.
Asking me the usual laundry list of questions about "if I like Mexico" and "what food do I like" and so on.
For obvious reasons, I find it awkward when they want me to pronounce words in Russian but this guy didn't go there.
Anyway, he begins at some point telling me repeatedly on how "open" Mexico is to foreigners.
That Mexico is "so, so nice" to foreigners and "we always have our arms open to you all."
I nod away.
"None of us, none of us are xenophobic. Not racist. Nothing. We Mexicans are very friendly people!" he says.
Literally those words (I'm paraphrasing to be fair).
I nod away.
Even though I don't entirely agree with it as there are assholes in Mexico like in any country, I nod away.
It doesn't really matter.
Then, given it's been a few odd weeks, I don't quite remember how we got to this point but the dude started going on a tirade about "pinches gringos."
Maybe he thought that -- given I claim to be Russian -- I hate gringos and see the US and their people as my "arch enemy."
I have no idea.
I genuinely don't remember how the conversation got to this point but he begins telling me that "one group of foreigners not welcome here -- gringos!"
And literally using the words "pinches gringos."
In the moment, I thought it was kinda funny given I am actually a gringo (regardless of if he realized it or not) and that he also was just telling me a literal second ago about how "welcoming" Mexico is to "all foreigners" with Mexico "not at all being xenophobic."
You literally couldn't make this shit up.
One second he is emphasizing strongly how welcoming Mexico is to foreigners and that it isn't xenophobic but then the next second brings his laundry list of things he hates about gringos.
With him asking me "what do you think about gringos?"
I nod away and go "well, they're cool. No issue."
He waves his hand up and goes "a mi no!!!"
He does not like them!
The conversation didn't go much beyond that nor into too many specifics.
He actually didn't have many reasons for not liking them (outside of shit about taxes, rising rent and whatever else).
Maybe he was deported. I have no idea.
But we soon arrived to my apartment building as it was close.
Regardless of the irony of it all, there are a few other things to say and a bigger point here about something you notice among some Latin Americans.
It could've been the case that he didn't believe I was Russian but I don't think so.
Most Latin Americans don't have the balls to tell you to your face that they hate your country or people from your country and his vibe towards me specifically was pretty friendly.
Just ironic that he shits on the US while thinking I'd side with him for supposedly being Russian.
Another thing too is that, in the last few months, there's been lots of online discussion about Mexicans hating the recent wave of foreigners to Mexico City.
I have always held that it's exaggerated and I still do.
That it's more common in touristy areas for obvious reasons and the locals are generally much friendlier on average in non touristy areas.
Still, people like this do exist in every corner of the world -- touristy or not.
But now let's get to the bigger point.
The Latin American Obsession With Emphasizing How Welcoming They Are
I couldn't imagine being so insecure about my country that I go up to random foreigners and go "my people are SO welcoming to you!! Don't you know that?!?! Yes yes?!"
It just screams of raging autism.
It's like when a dude is hyping up how many "bitches" he fucks.
If you be hyping up shit way more than is normal, you probably lying through your teeth and/or feel insecure about it.
That's how I feel about the Latin American who trips over himself telling me how "welcoming" his people are or country is.
While it is a separate discussion as to how welcoming Latin America is and relative to other countries like the US, I just find it weird when someone feels the need to tell me about it.
Also, it's not really your place to tell me how welcoming your people are.
It's like when Latin Americans try to gaslight gringos into saying that the word "gringo" is never used offensively but then they use it offensively in some contexts.
I don't think the word gringo is always offensive as I wrote here but it's also not the place of the Latin American to tell the gringo how he should perceive the word.
The word isn't for you so you don't get to dictate how others see it.
Similarly, it's not your place to tell a gringo how "welcoming" your country is.
The person who actually put in the blood, sweat and tears to immigrate to your country is the one to tell you how easy or difficult it was from a legal standpoint (not usually difficult for us gringos in Mexico) and how welcoming the average local is (your mileage will vary).
After all, if you're not a foreigner trying to live in Mexico and you don't hang with too many foreigners (if any at all), what the fuck would you know about how welcoming the vibes are for foreigners looking to live here?
You don't know shit.
Finally, just how welcoming is Mexico and broader Latin America to gringos?
Is it true?
Well, given how big the region is, obviously this depends.
If you don't speak Spanish as a gringo, you'll get less respect.
If you go to touristy areas, I find the locals are not as authentically friendly as locals in non touristy areas.
Obviously areas that see a flood of immigrants/expats/tourists from any part of the world are going to see more xenophobia spike from some of the locals.
Doesn't matter where these foreigners come from or how they act.
They will see more xenophobia in my opinion simply because that's how people are in any culture or background.
It's my firm opinion that people are like this in any background when they perceive the local culture of being in danger of being reduced in importance in whatever area when a flood of foreigners come in (regardless of how legit their concerns are).
Like Mexicans who bitch about hearing too much English in Roma Norte (while ironically wanting to turn us into free English tutors because their broke ass living in Agricola Oriental can't afford to pay).
Finally, there's a few other things to mention that come to mind:
One, when the Latin American mentions how welcoming his country is, he might often tell you to "enjoy your time here" and casually reference somehow your eventual return to your country.
I don't always see it as overly welcoming if you know the gringo lives here but still see an end point to his time living here as if he's just a perpetual tourist and not an immigrant (all the while you might bitch about us using the term expat and not immigrant ironically enough).
Second, Mexico isn't really that different from the US or most countries when it comes to who they are more welcoming to relative to others.
Like any country, if you come from a poor ass country, the locals are less welcoming on average.
As I wrote here, you have no shortage of Latin Americans who bitch about poor immigrants from neighboring countries moving to their country in mass and wanting them deported.
Saying the same shit that Trump folks about about Mexican immigrants: bringing crime, drugs, etc.
In fact, as I wrote here, some bitch about jobs being taken too!
So, when it comes to how accepting Mexico is of foreigners, it's like any other country in the world in that foreigners perceived to have more money get less shit than those who are broke as fuck.
Third, I feel some Mexicans and Latin Americans over emphasize how welcoming their country is because the insecurity that comes from it is also the same insecurity you see when you mention how there is racism in Mexico.
As I wrote before in other articles, a lot of Mexicans will tell you that "there is no racism, only classism" in Mexico when that is objectively not true.
You have people like this in other countries -- including the US -- that deny social problems because they're insecure about acknowledging anything critical about their country.
Similarly, I feel some of the Mexicans and Latin Americans who overemphasize how "welcoming" their country is are coming from a similar point.
They want to paint "their people" as being very friendly and hospitable AT ALL TIMES just like how they want to paint "their people" as having other positive characteristics like when, as you can read here, you have Latin Americans who emphasize how "conservative" their women are.
When, in my experience, they are objectively not that conservative sexually.
Not really that different.
Not harder to fuck (easier in the opinions of most gringos actually).
So it is what it is.
A local who wants to exaggerate nice qualities he sees in his country and the people of his country while denying any problems like xenophobia that could exist as we return to how "welcoming" the average Mexican is.
Above all though, it's nothing more than an odd obsession that I ice that only SOME Latin Americans have with convincing us how "welcoming" their country is.
Regardless of the ideas I have around it all, at the very least it really is just an odd quirk I notice about the locals in Latin America who are overly insistent at times to tell me how welcoming their country is (despite me never provoking the opposite claim that they are not welcoming).
Which, when we go back to just how welcoming Mexicans and Latin Americans are, I want to emphasize again that I don't think they are not welcoming.
But I also don't see the average Latin American as welcoming either.
It just depends.
You got some people who kiss your ass because they assume you are more educated for being a white foreigner or they want your money/English lessons.
Others who hate you with xenophobia like how you got assholes in any country (including the US, we aren't above you all).
And a majority of people in between who are not assholes nor are they tripping over themselves to welcome you.
They got their own jobs and aren't even thinking of you. They chill though.
Anyway, it is what it is.
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Thanks for reading.