March 30, 2019
Moving to Mexico: USAdios.com
Chapter 38: Why Mexicans Are So Odd To Americans
When I speak about Mexicans in this article, I am speaking in a very general way about the Mexican people I have personally met. If my descriptions do not match yours and you find yourself getting heated up, take a breath. This is simply a fun and very personal account of my experiences with the wonderful Mexican people I have met and known.
“No” does not seem to be in their vocabulary.
I grew up with and have lived around Mexican people since I was born. They are some of the most fun, passionate and honest people in the world. One thing I always found odd: they rarely say “No.” Perhaps it’s just a positive attitude or a strong ambition, I’m not sure. They just seem to believe all things are possible.
Mexican people are also very industrious! I worked construction for years and my Mexican colleagues worked the hardest. I learned a lot from them. It’s not just my opinion here. This is not about race, so check your attitude. This is about numbers and data. See this article and graph:
They are fans of public affection.
When you see a Mexican couple walking in public, there is no doubt in your mind that they are together. They are arm in arm, hand in hand and seem to stop every ten yards to make out.
Mexican couples have that forlorn look in their eyes that says, “If only we could be together 24 hours a day.” They have that look that most young lovers have in that first few weeks of their relationship. Mexican couples appear to retain that affection for each other long after the courtship and wedding. When I see them canoodling in public, it makes me reach for my wife. Love is contagious.
They don’t tell you that the salsa is really that hot.
It’s no secret that Mexican people prefer spicy food. Californians like me think that we have adopted their taste for chili pepper flavor, but we are wrong. Never in my life has my tongue burned so intensely and for so long as the time I was told by a Mexican woman at a restaurant that the “verde” was the mild sauce. I spooned some on my tamale and sat down to take a bite of the innocent-looking, creamy green sauce. It turned out to be a habanero from hell mixture of “queso” and some kind secret brew of peppers that burned so intensely that I actually became nervous. And for good reason, some peppers can actually cause real physical damage. But your Mexican friend will chuckle, eat another one, and watch you sweat. Take a look at this article on just how these peppers affect the body:
They love that lime.
Mexicans put lime on food, in drinks and even in their deserts. But to be more specific, they actually love the “limon” which is really a type of sour lime as opposed to a sweet lime. You will see green and yellow limes in restaurants used for the same thing.
It’s not the color that matters, it’s the taste. Lime adds a very fresh, sour and acidic zest to anything you put it on. There is nothing like the beer concoction “michelada”, trust me. It’s so tasty, I can only have two of them before I have to switch back to plain beer. *See a recipe link below.
Mexicans love this fruit just like the Italians love tomatoes, Germans love vinegar and Americans love mustard. By the way, I love all of those things!
Tardiness is normal.
For Mexicans, 15-30 minutes late is normal. “They just look at time differently,” many will say. No, they’re late. And they are totally cool with being late, so you had better either get on board with their sense of time or be ready to be frustrated.
My best friend here in California is Mexican and when I show up 5-10 minutes early, he calls that “Collins Time” because I am terminally punctual to the point of being slightly early. Again, I was raised by a Marine and I was a Soldier, so time was a concept that was drilled into our being for many years. Sergeants are not flexible individuals and for good reason.
Our missions here at home are not life-threatening, so I usually wind up waiting for my friend here to finish up whatever he’s doing so we can leave. He never apologizes. His internal clock is not chained to a real clock so time to him is very fluid concept.
Some people abuse the whole time thing. Recently, a Mexican contractor was to meet us at 9:30 AM. When he finally showed up at 2:00 PM, we told him that we had already scheduled with another contractor and that he could leave. He frowned and even cursed a bit, but he was reminded that while Americans must be flexible with Mexican time, potential customers do not.
I have had business with many Mexican people, and it seems like the actual meeting time is also very flexible. It’s as if the meeting time is the beginning of the negotiation. Recently, I had a car rental agent delivering a vehicle to my hotel. He was running late, very late. He arrived two-hours late and said, “It’s a little busy today.” In the USA, if you are not ten minutes early, you are late. If you are on time, you are late. If you are actually late, you will miss your meeting and if that meeting was a job interview, you just lost the job.
Mexican flexibility with time is one more reason I cannot wait to live there. I need to decompress a bit. I will live longer. And I’ll save money on watch batteries because they will no longer be time pieces. They will be bracelets.
Parties going all night long
When I first rented a home in Mexico, I lived for a few months in a small village of about 1,000 residents. I was the only Caucasian person in the pueblo but that never bothered me. The people were kind and helpful and we spoke Spanglish to each other just fine.
One night at about three in the morning, I was awakened to loud booming sounds and yelling. Thinking there had been some kind of accident, I ran to the front door and went outside. There were more explosions and voices, and I could see lights dancing on the tops of palm trees and buildings a few blocks away. I figured the local fireworks factory had gone up in flames so I ran towards the commotion to see if I could help.
It turned out to be a birthday party with hundreds of revelers, a DJ and huge BBQ’s sending plumes of smoke into the sky. The booms were from fireworks of all sorts and they went off almost constantly.
One of the residents saw me and invited me to join them. I stayed until 4:30 AM and had to go back home to sleep. I tried to sleep, but the party went on until 7:00 AM. This happened often and I was told it was normal for Mexican parties to go all night long. I was also told that I was invited to any party that happened in the village. If you can’t sleep, you might as well dance.
Public toilets are not free
And the toilet paper is usually just a couple of squares purchased from a guy at the door to the toilet. Many Americans have adopted the Japanese and European tradition of the bidet and/or the Toto brand toilet which makes you wonder how people think using just paper is a hygienic option. Adam Corolla likened it to cleaning peanut butter from the carpet. ‘Nuff said there.
I cannot complain about this difference as finding a free public toilet in San Francisco, California is similar to winning the lottery, if the lottery meant that you had to step over used syringes, human feces and other trash to enter said free toilet. Many of those toilets have a twenty-minute time lock so junkies tend to use this as a mini-motel/shooting gallery where they can conduct business without fear for a third of an hour before the door automatically opens again to the public.
Actually, the above is a bit of the past. These days, most junkies in San Francisco just shoot up wherever they are with impunity. And if they need to take a #2, they just go wherever they happen to be. I call it, The Shitty By The Bay, and I’m not alone.
Full-service gas stations
We had these in the Bahamas, too. I’m not sure if it’s a way to insure people have jobs, but there should be an option for either full-service or self-service like we did here in the USA many years ago. These days, we only have self-service, so it appears that Mexico and the USA are viewing labor differently. Disagree? Look what happens at a fast-food chain when a demand for a $15/hour wage comes up.
Personally, I love the restaurant kiosks for the same reason I love the full-service gas stations in Mexico: less chance for me to be blamed for a mistake.
I love it. It’s best live, but I play it in our home in Mexico often just to remind me of where I am. I can forget that when I look around at our home which is so modern. That’s why I love to go where it’s being played, have a cerveza and a smile.
Why is this weird to Americans? You just don’t see people walking around playing American folk music, anywhere. And if someone is playing music on the street in the USA, that’s because they probably sleep on that same street.
Here, we’re in a hurry and we have to dive into our iPhone the minute we sit down to eat. We don’t have time to be bothered by some noisy band playing old tunes. There, I use my iPhone to take photos of the mariachi band so I can remember how wonderful it was to hear that music again.
Are Mexicans weird? Yes, to a gringo, they are. We are just as weird to them. I embrace our differences. That is what made me want to go to Mexico: I loved the differences! I wanted to learn more about a nation, a people and a culture that I found fascinatingly antiquated in ways that I truly miss in the USA.
We have lost a lot of what they consider normal and they have some catching up to do in areas we consider normal. We’re both weird. Thank God we have each other to lean upon.