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Implants into Every Foreigner’s Mind

by sanmigueltimes
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So if you were Mexican and could implant one thing into the minds of every foreigner that comes to town, what would it be?

This was a question I asked in a recent straw poll to folks that were actually Mexicans so the first part of the statement was, of course, removed.

As always, I try to picture the situation in my own culture.  In the US, to be a citizen, you have answer certain questions about the government those born and raised in the US can’t answer correctly.  I mean, can any of today’s high school graduates explain how the Electoral College actually works?

Answers to what a Mexican wishes every foreigner already knew about Mexico varied…

Many simply wanted simple manners implanted into our noggins.  If every foreigner could say ‘good morning’ or ‘enjoy your meal’ we foreigners would be so much better liked.

Others went to the other end of knowledge scale and wanted every foreigner to know why there was a celebration and what, exactly, that day’s fireworks and bell clanging meant.

Meanwhile some wanted to go even deeper and have us know who revolutionary heroes like el PipilaAldama and alike were plus more details on major holidays like Christmas.  That would be a tough one as I doubt my adult kids learned five revolutionary heroes in the States.  Plus Christmas is way more tactile, ritualized and feminine here lasting from December 12th through February second.

Some were simply tired of our whiny nature.  As one pollster simply stated “They are so many flights daily to the US, just hop on one and be much happier back there!”  Though we all know those foreigners likely weren’t very happy in the US either!

Others waxed longingly of foreigners that were kind, helpful and fit in, like Jaime “Jim” MorrisStirling Dickinson and a small handful of past ex-pats.

Many were exasperated at our constant displays of wealth.  Now in case you were thinking that means wearing Rolexes or diamonds, allow to me to elaborate it’s the everyday wealth that is tiring.  For example, when I spill a drink I use a dish towel to mop it up showing I’ve got money to burn as a Mexican would use a mop.  A towel has to be washed and dried to be reused showing I’ve money to burn.

There’s a good reason, beyond cyber security, a foreigner’s trash gets picked through if only for handy daily use items we toss without a thought.

Others stressed how foreigners fit in here because if you are a Mexican as old as I – you, your parents and grandparents all grew up here with a small subset of foreigners and you’ve learned to live together.  That takes give and take on both sides that needs to continue.  No one likes a carpetbagger that comes to town and tries to stop the fiestas or bells, and that includes the virus!

The movie Coco did wonders for spreading knowledge about Day of the Dead though many still wish we knew more about La Llorona or the Catrina.

Foodies want with an increase awareness of local cuisine in hopes that pizza and burgers doesn’t become the restaurant norm.

Geography buffs expect foreigners to know how the streets of San Miguel de Allende got their names which, honestly, is no small feat.

Business owners mentioned how they appreciate how foreigners keep some locals employed though they truly wish everyone realized our economy is based on domestic tourism.

When the question is thrown back at me, I fall back on part of my introduction of every tour, lecture and book.  The notion that the Inquisition lasted 300 years here and it took yet another century until the 1920s when the Church lost any real power in governing Mexico.  Believe in the faith, or don’t, it doesn’t much matter, what is important is realizing Catholicism has an impact on daily life.  Mexico is a Catholic country by culture, if not conviction.

Simply put, don’t move here if you hate the Church.  I’m not doubting your reasons for hating the Church, but today’s Mexico isn’t the time or place.  Simply put, moving to Mexico with blatant and verbose anger with the Church is the equivalent of being wildly anti-semitic and thinking Israel will be a perfect new home for you.

Joseph Toone

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