Soy Un Mexicano

I’ve thought of three good reasons why I can claim to be a good, fully assimilated Mexican hombre. Yesterday I witnessed a robbery in progress, on the bridge a few minutes from home. I looked up, stopped, thought about saying something and then just decided – meh! Shit happens. Walk on by. To be fair, the robber and robbee were already closing their transaction, and they were on the world’s longest and most stupid footbridge, a good ten minutes stroll from my spot. Even though they were directly above me, no more than 12 feet away. And what was I going to say anyway? “Excuse me, are you being robbed? Hey there, you, in the red hoodie – would you mind awfully leaving that poor chap alone!” Not gonna have much impact I feel.

Even more Mexican than that was the way I cut back the tree in our yard at the weekend. Health and Safety regulations used to be the bain of my life back in the UK. Forms, forms and more forms. Here, they are effectively non existent, and  I’ve seen enough incidents to drive home why the UK enforces them so strictly. But I’ve gotten into the swing of things. Oh so literally. I managed to cut that tree down to size, with one hand clinging on to a branch, one foot pressed against the lip of the wall, the other hanging free, whilst my remaining arm sawed furiously at the offending wood. All the time my body at a 45 degree angle, at a height sufficient to cause pain if I should fall. I didn’t, I’m happy to report.

Thirdly, a few weeks ago I got a tooth infection. Whilst it did occur to me to go to the dentist, I chose instead to buy some cheap bog standard penicillin tablets from the national fake medicine chain, and finish off a number of Mystery Medicines that have been lying around in our first aid box since…well, I have no idea since when really. All washed down with a goodly dose of paracetamol. My home made remedy didn’t work sadly, and I strolled into the dentist of last resort this afternoon in agony.

Yo soy un Mexicano! Except, when I finish this post and walk out of this room I’ll pass a mirror which will provide three most compelling reasons as to why I will never really pass as a Mexican. Six foot three, fair hair and blue eyes. It’s not that there aren’t any Mexicans who fit that description. But not many. And none of them leave the safety of Polanco to wander around my neighbourhood.

19 thoughts on “Soy Un Mexicano

  1. They always say that walking on by is the best way to deal with a crime if a person isn’t actually being harmed and / or you can’t do anything to stop it. Of course, that is the safe thing to do and what you did with that tree was deifnitely not safe!!!

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    1. It´s always a difficult situation. No doubts about it, the safest and most sensible thing to do is turn a blind eye. But there´s something in all of us that makes that decision feel a bit….you know what I mean.

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  2. Oye Güero! No te creas un Mexicano; eres otra forma de gringo, nada mas. Y, basado en mi propia experiencia, a veces es una ventaja y nunca una desventaja. Te tratan mejor, creo.

    Tengo casi tu altura (6′ 0″), piel muy blanca, y ojos verdes. (F me dice “ojos traicioneros” — es una canción, creo.) Nunca van a tomarme por un Mexicano. Pero para mi, es un placer ser la minoridad. Me hace sentir exótico.

    Y en contraste a los EEUU o Inglaterra, creo que nunca podamos ser Mexicanos. Siempre seremos extranjeros.

    Me diste mucha risa con tu último párrafo.

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we are visiting Mom for Thanksgiving.

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  3. P.S. The lack of noisome regulations is one of the pleasures of Mexico. Does it cause some problems? Sure. But it seems like a breath of fresh air compared to the USA where you practically need a permit to repaint your front bedroom.

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    1. There is no lack of noisome regulations in Mexico at all. If anything there are more of them than north of the border. Perhaps. I haven´t counted, I must confess.

      The plus point in Mexico, of course, is the lack of enforcement of the aforementioned regulations. It´s almost as if they didn´t exist. Unless it´s tax. Which is enforced most visibly, unless you´re very poor. Or very rich. I just had the VAT law explained to me today. There is a difference between a 0% rate and tax exempt, apparently. I´m sure I´m preaching to the choir here though. I know what you meant.

      Incidentally, I broke a regulation in trimming my tree. Forbidden in Mexico City without a permit….

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      1. See, that’s the delight. They pass as many stupid laws as anyone, but then thankfully don’t enforce them. Like smoking. Seems to me you can smoke as much as ever in DF. Am I wrong?

        Saludos,

        Kim G

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      2. P.P.S.

        The noisome regulations here vary considerably by state. When I moved from San Francisco to Boston, it seemed very lightly regulated here by comparison. Which is a scary thought if you know anything about Mass, which has plenty of it’s own pesky regulations. Still, at that time (1995) you could smoke in restaurants when such behavior in California was considered on a par with child molestation, perhaps even worse.

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      3. DF passed legislation a couple of years ago now banning smoking in restaurants and bars. I sincerely doubted it would be embraced or enforced, but to my utter astonishment it worked. So, no more puffing in restaurants for me. Although to be honest, I used to go outside most eating establishments to smoke anyway, because I’m considerate like that!

        The big difference between US and UK noisome regulations, from my experience anyway, is the enforcement. A UK police officer will stop you, and tell you off. Usually politely. And then, providing you comply and don’t get abusive, you go on your way without further ado. Providing it wasn’t a driving offense caught on radar or camera, in which case you get ticketed.

        The US is a big place, and my experiences aren’t enough to be valid across the country, but I’ve seen plenty of cases where the law is broken, and no matter how minor the offense, the arrest is made as a matter of course.

        I try and avoid breaking the law, generally speaking, to avoid either situation.

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  4. Hi Gary,

    Official history textbooks teach that Mexico is a mestizo country, the mix of Europeans and native Americans. That is of course an exclusive definition (i.e. those who aren’t mixed race?). Governments always feel the need to emphasize a common past of its subjects to foster social cohesion, but in Mexico it is absurd. I reject race-based definitions of Mexican identity. Sorry, for the most part we don’t have a shared history. Most people’s ancestors in Mexico were at each others’ throats a couple of centuries ago, what do you make of that?

    On the other hand, unless you impose some artificial narrative like the one I just mentioned (incl. the “bronze race”, etc) what do you have? Mexicans descend from conquerors, from the conquered, and from the rape of the conquered by the conquerors (the latter tended to be male…) If you’re serious about this, read Octavio Paz’s “The Labyrinth of Solitude”.

    Anyhow I think Kim G. is right with regards to foreigners being treated better than Mexicans. By know you’re aware of the concept of malinchismo. We’re a self-loathing, insecure bunch.

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    1. This is coming close to exploring the delicate subject of racism in Mexico. I was told/am told, by Mexicans, that there is no racism here. The way some Mexicans of a certain skin colour and ‘pedigree’ treat other Mexicans of a different colour and ‘lesser pedigree’ doesn’t seem to count….

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  5. I think it depends on who you ask. I have asked a lot of Mexicans about racism and usually the white ones from European descent say ‘no’ and everyone else says ‘yes’. I often think of the langauge and the phrases that are still used – like, ‘trabajo como negro para vivir como blanco’ or when someone is marrying someone with paler skin, they may say ‘estoy mejorando la raza’. Bad manners at the table might elicit ‘no te portas como indio’ as a response.

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