Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Dogs barking downstairs, loud voices, someone outside the door sweeping, phone ringing, today will not be a quiet day like yesterday.  I can just see it.  And in the afternoon Claire arrives.  Which is great.  Yesterday I was alone all day, writing, reading, eating, until the evening when I went out to dinner with a few new friends.

It was so quiet yesterday. No one around. The dog was quiet. I did the laundry and worked peacefully.  I suppose I should just give in and go with the flow.  That's what life is about.

The dinner people consisted of an English woman who lives here, a New Yorker who lives here part-time, a Mexican man, and a young woman from the Bay Area who lives in Oaxaca part-time. First they told me to meet them at Fenicia, a Lebanese restaurant, but when I got there the place was closed for the day.  I thought they were trying to ditch me.  I called the young woman.  I know, it's closed, she said, we are at Cafe Monet.  

Oh, ok, I'll be there in two minutes. Cafe Monet is a few doors down from Fenicia.  Owned by Bill, an American, is one of the gringo favorites.  They were sitting in the back.  

I shook hands with each one and sat down, ordered a beer.  They were laughing, seemingly about private jokes.  But I didn't mind.  Eventually I ordered spaghetti a la bolognese and joined in the conversation.  The young Mexican man and I spoke about the invasion of the gringos.  He said that in a few years they will own everything and we'll be working for them more than we are now.  I am very intrigued about the feelings and opinions of the locals towards the foreigners - mostly North Americans and Canadians.  They mix very little.  Very, very little.  

It feels colonial, someone told me.  From the first time I came here in 2012 I've felt an uneasiness about the overwhelming presence of the people from the North.  I can't explain it.  It's different from being immigrants or tourists or visitors.  And one of the things that bothers me most is when I hear the North Americans disparage the locals for being always late, or disorganized, or inefficient.  If anything goes wrong, if you complain about something, the answer is always: This is Mexico.Get used to it.  What does that mean?  I find that offensive.  And I say so.  

Then you have those who patronize everything and everybody.   I've met many men and women who come for a visit and decide to stay because It's a magical place. Really. And the locals are so kind, and easy going.  However, very few try to learn the language and communicate with the San Miguelenses.  They speak to clerks and taxi drivers and cleaning ladies and waiters in English.  Are you kidding me? I want to tell them.  Make an effort, learn to speak Spanish.  If you want to live here, shouldn't you learn the language?  And I remind them of the big stink North Americans make up North when an immigrant doesn't speak English.  


  1. When someone comes from another county, i.e. Greece, Argentina, etc., and becomes an American, is that person a gringo when visiting Mexico? Is someone who lives in a different county and is not there for work, an immigrant or an ex pat or something else? I am curious about how we come with labels.

    1. Good questions. Let's talk about it when I come back. With shoes.