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AlanMexicali

What Mexico does that seems odd to some expats?

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Does living in Mexico benefit everyone? Is Mexico a country that has expats coming to retire and work for reasons that everyone of us understands, in general, from the Mexican gov't.'s point of view? What about from the point of view of other expats? Do most expats understand Mexico's political and social policies and cultural differences well enough to see why some idiosyncrasies here are so very different than other countries way of doing business?

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Expats live and work abroad for a variety of reasons. I don't think anyone can know all the cultural differences, nuances and idiosyncrasies until one is immersed. And then it's a long, interesting process and experience!

For example, Americans pride themselves in being blunt and assertive, and usually pretty honest and to the point. So if someone invites them to a party, they will generally RSVP in some manner. Mexicans seem different. They will generally say they are coming to be polite and then may or may not show up.

Another example. In the states, I might get cantankerous with a boss, and argue a point, disagree, generate controversy, and still retain my job. In fact, the boss might actually gain respect for me because I am not afraid to speak up. However, here it is different. Job retention is directly related to being diplomatic, super polite, going with the flow even when conditions and situations seem absolutely ludicrous, and keeping your feelings to yourself.

I believe I could live here for the rest of my life and still not understand every nuance of Mexican life. And for me, this is what keeps it interesting.

It's not for everyone. People that come here to just take advantage of the economy so they can be fatter consumers in their retirement, who never learn the language or mix with the Mexicans, are the ones that end up the most jaded IMO.

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A very insightful post. I wonder if being in Mexico hasn't changed me in ways that I would not have done if staying in the US in retirement, including stressing over minor occurrences. You are right some expats seem more stressed than ever to me because of not understanding some of the major idiosyncrasies that are much different here and seem content to complain about them instead, not all by all means, of course.

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What's your point? Am I missing something deep and significant here?

There is a growing segment of the expat population I have communicated with that DO understand Mexicans better than other expats and accept those differences graciously and usually seem to be involved in a more intimate way with the culture and understand their main social values. Even some understand why things are much different than NOB in their public policies and unwritten public policies much better.

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There is a growing segment of the expat population I have communicated with that DO understand Mexicans better than other expats and accept those differences graciously and usually seem to be involved in a more intimate way with the culture and understand their main social values. Even some understand why things are much different than NOB in their public policies and unwritten public policies much better.

Oooookaaaay. And...where do we go with that? Every sentence in your original post was a question. Are you really asking for answers/opinions or is it rhetoric? I'm still not sure what the goal might be.

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Oooookaaaay. And...where do we go with that? Every sentence in your original post was a question. Are you really asking for answers/opinions or is it rhetoric? I'm still now sure what the goal might be.

Opinions are nice and I would respond with what I "think" I understand as I would hope others will be willing to contribute their understanding of some things about living in their chosen location, including yourself. Does chatting have to have a goal? I think not. This subject just might be very interesting to some members and myself included.

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I like the topic even tho I had to kind of sort thru what the OP was getting at. The thing I like about living in this culture is that it challenges my personal growth. I have to look at myself in ways I wouldn't ponder back in the states. I have to open up to the culture. Sometimes I find things hard to understand, and I noticed that, overall, living here is making me a lot less reactive.

Like today I was at a taco stand. I noticed that someone mentioned something about the gringa when i was sitting there eating and quick glanced over to see if I was aware. I was so I just lifted my eyebrows and smiled so then everyone seemed to accept me because I had a nice reaction to being mentioned in some way. There was a caution when I stepped up, Did she know Spanish? Is she going to be a pain to us? In the end, my manners sufficed, I had to adjust my body language when I paid. I seemed to be getting too close and didn't notice there was line. When I adjust to a more graceful way of behaving, I notice the small things count and then there is acceptance. Challenging myself to the smallest of experiences and having success is what makes living here so cool. I explore for my favorite vendors, so i can challenge my ability to talk "food". I try to avoid cold and impersonal type stores, but of course we all need them sometimes. I like learning new values in this culture.

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virgo girl: there are some things here i can accept, others no. i dont agree about a mexican "just not showing up" is the mexican culture. my friend called today to say she could make it over this afternoon. she said she would call me back to confirm for friday. she is the top dental surgeon in guad, she does not run a taco stand. she would be insulted @the accusation that mexicans dont have social manners, as different classes behave differently. or people aspire to another level. btw, even my maid calls when she cant come & has to change the day. she learned how to do business here, & wants to keep her clients. all my mexican friends have social respect. your are speaking about a certain class of people from a backward mountain town. they also know that the retirees will accept this, so the behavior continues. matter of fact, educated mexicans are very formal.

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One thing I find different in Mexico: People are tougher, stronger, more resilient. I think Mexicans have a better handle on human nature.... they are not as idealistic and naive as we baby-boomers from up North. I love Mexico.... I will continue to maintain low expectations so I can be pleasantly surprised when things work out!

I find that the Expats who are most uncomfortable here are really not interested in sociology in general. They want their houses cleaned, repaired and gardens trimmed. They want good food at reasonable prices. They really do not care to learn or try and understand anything about Mexico or Mexicans if they can get away with it.

Most of the people I know, who are happy, in Mexico are interested in learning about cultural differences, keep up with the news and work hard at developing meaningful relationships with Mexicans.

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This is a good discussion, posted in a non-political way; let's hope it stays that way.

There are too many expats here for the weather, period. They have little or no interest in the culture, few travel in-country and many who say they travel "around Mexico" just go to beach resorts, where they know there will be other expats. Too many expats here hide out at LCS or in their gated communities, spending their days surrounded by other expats. Their interactions with Mexicans are limited to those with their maids and gardeners, and they expect them to speak English! They have insulated themselves from the real Mexico.

Go, people, explore this wonderful country.

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One thing I find different in Mexico: People are tougher, stronger, more resilient. I think Mexicans have a better handle on human nature.... they are not as idealistic and naive as we baby-boomers from up North. I love Mexico.... I will continue to maintain low expectations so I can be pleasantly surprised when things work out!

I find that the Expats who are most uncomfortable here are really not interested in sociology in general. They want their houses cleaned, repaired and gardens trimmed. They want good food at reasonable prices. They really do not care to learn or try and understand anything about Mexico or Mexicans if they can get away with it.

Most of the people I know, who are happy, in Mexico are interested in learning about cultural differences, keep up with the news and work hard at developing meaningful relationships with Mexicans.

Yes I have to agree with you that some are taking advantage of Mexico in a way that might alienate them when really understanding things from a Mexican's perspective and knowing "get by" Spanish to chat with Mexicans not in the business of serving them, who most likely will not speak English, is a good start. I personally watch the news daily. My wife tells me things that make me understand things I question. It all goes to experience and accepting Mexico as being different and unique and an overall experience instead of a tainted view of WHY do they do things like that that are to me just not right. I would hope more posters would ask questions about things they see that to them is odd. There are many people here that could explain some of it better than me if I do not know because I had not seen it from their perspective. Perspective is one thing we all have and it can be limited to understanding. Understanding might bring acceptance and then the odd things might not feel alien anymore in some cases.

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Food for thought.................I wonder how Mexico's culture and people might change when Mexico develops even further. As in China, the middle class and upper middle class have changed the culture. The young generation want the growth and the things they see over the internet, tv, etc . It's called progress to some! As this country moves further with growth and education along wth jobs................the culture might just change from "the leave it to beaver" days to what we all experience in our NOB countries.

Sure hope not!

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"Most of the people I know, who are happy, in Mexico are interested in learning about cultural differences, keep up with the news and work hard at developing meaningful relationships with Mexicans."

I agree with the above statement...and as an American, don't like to be lumped into "being blunt and assertive."

I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the world here and want to repect their way of life as long as it brings no harm.

Everyday is not perfect here or anywhere else....I struggle with my Spanish but those that work with me, get what I am saying. I keep at it. The longer you live here, the easier it is to understand the Mexican way of life. Does not mean I have to like all aspects of it but living in poverty does not mean they are miserable.

I hope that people who live here full time and those that come to visit, get the chance to drive through some of the villages like Santa Cruz or San Nicolas and take the time to sit in the squares and watch and talk to some of the people. We can learn from each other.

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You may look about and see things that are unfamiliar; even strange.

You may not understand the language and be unable to speak it.

You have no idea what is going on around you.

You want imported food, clothing, mattresses, appliances from your home country.

You criticize those who were born and brought up here.

You don't like local 'habits', holidays or even the religion.

You want more government services.

You can't read signs, newspapers or understand the TV news.

Etc...........

You are an 'expat' and it is YOU who is the really strange one.

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Not sure of your point but my response to all of your 'questions' is 'of course not'.

Well I have to presume you are a newer resident to Mexico or a snowbird and have not yet had enough time to figure a few things out. Hopefully you will get some knowledge that will make more sense of it all. It probably will never all make sense to me but I keep plugging along. Many expats that I communicate with have a good understanding of many aspects of living here and have helped me get further along the road to accepting things JUST the way they are and leaving my judgements behind in the US and Canada where I learned them in the first place. I love living in a social democracy that takes care of its own and families and friends that take care of their own as well. The US is becoming more and more: Let the strong survive and the weak perish attitude. Here it is refreshing and stimulating to be apart of Mexican culture and society even a small part is better than none. I grew up in the: Live and let live culture in Canada and now many in the US are like old republican ladies sticking their noses into everyone else's business. Some here on the board need to back off and get more accepting of differences that are here to stay.

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virgo girl: there are some things here i can accept, others no. i dont agree about a mexican "just not showing up" is the mexican culture. my friend called today to say she could make it over this afternoon. she said she would call me back to confirm for friday. she is the top dental surgeon in guad, she does not run a taco stand. she would be insulted @the accusation that mexicans dont have social manners, as different classes behave differently. or people aspire to another level. btw, even my maid calls when she cant come & has to change the day. she learned how to do business here, & wants to keep her clients. all my mexican friends have social respect. your are speaking about a certain class of people from a backward mountain town. they also know that the retirees will accept this, so the behavior continues. matter of fact, educated mexicans are very formal.

Manny, you are writing from your own perspective, which is fine. And yes, educated Mexicans are by and large very formal.

Of course, in Mexico, 'educated' doesn't mean 'went to school and earned a degree or two'. It means well-mannered. And yes, well-mannered Mexicans are very formal. However, 'very formal' often doesn't include showing up on time or at all for a scheduled event. My perspective, after more than 30 years of life in various parts of Mexico, is that 'people from a backward mountain town' can be much better mannered than 'a certain class of people'--in this case, the wealthy class. Social class is inconsequential; what counts is real class, the kind a person carries inside him or herself. Many rural people, including people I know well in and around Ajijic, are much better mannered than city folks who have no real class.

Even some of my very good friends in Tijuana, Guadalajara, Morelia, and Mexico City, people who are bien educados (well brought up, from good families, and very well-mannered) think nothing of arriving an hour or two after the accepted time of an event, be it a party, a book presentation, a wedding, etc.--or not arriving at all. There's a saying about this in Mexico: es mejor pedir perdón que pedir permiso. It's better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. So much easier to accept an invitation and then not appear than to say NO to an invitation and appear rude from the outset! The first is behavior over which folks shake their heads and shrug, the second isn't acceptable behavior at all.

None of this has anything to do with a 'backward country town'. It's about Mexico's general culture and norms of behavior.

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Well I have to presume you are a newer resident to Mexico or a snowbird and have not yet had enough time to figure a few things out. Hopefully you will get some knowledge that will make more sense of it all. It probably will never all make sense to me but I keep plugging along. Many expats that I communicate with have a good understanding of many aspects of living here and have helped me get further along the road to accepting things JUST the way they are and leaving my judgements behind in the US and Canada where I learned them in the first place. I love living in a social democracy that takes care of its own and families and friends that take care of their own as well. The US is becoming more and more: Let the strong survive and the weak perish attitude. Here it is refreshing and stimulating to be apart of Mexican culture and society even a small part is better than none. I grew up in the: Live and let live culture in Canada and now many in the US are like old republican ladies sticking their noses into everyone else's business. Some here on the board need to back off and get more accepting of differences that are here to stay.

Alan, you're new to this board. I'd be really careful about making assumptions about people until you have a chance to see who we are. If I had posted an answer when I saw your original post shortly after you made it, I would have said that the answer to ALL of what you asked is, "It depends." I half expected that your answer would have been similar to the answer that you gave Billinabus, so I didn't post anything at all. You would have been wrong about me, just as you are wrong about him.

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Alan, you're new to this board. I'd be really careful about making assumptions about people until you have a chance to see who we are. If I had posted an answer when I saw your original post shortly after you made it, I would have said that the answer to ALL of what you asked is, "It depends." I half expected that your answer would have been similar to the answer that you gave Billinabus, so I didn't post anything at all. You would have been wrong about me, just as you are wrong about him.

Noted and taken with a thank you for pointing this out. His wording was too short and ill conceived by me. I took it he was being a bit sarcastic and uninterested. My wording in the original post could have been better.

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I'm no expert on Mexico, but after 5 years of frequent travel around this country, my personal impression is that there isn't "one" Mexico. What you see/hear/smell/taste in Chiapas, the Yucatan, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Izamal, Puebla, Sonora, Patzcuaro, Morelia ....varies widely. Cultures (including a large number of indigenous peoples), foods (especially street foods), dress and local customs are more diverse in Mexico than what I've experienced in most other countries. Decades ago, on a US road trip, you knew by accents, dress, foods and customs whether you were in Georgia or Maine. Not so much now.

Mexico has retained much of its regional character and flavor; travel here is still an adventure. We are lucky to be so centrally located; a one day's drive over good roads can land you in so many wonderful spots. There are cheap in-country flights out of GDL, as well. Or, if you prefer, take a bus!

But see Mexico before it becomes culturally homogenized like so many other places.

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more liana, yes showing up late is typical. i think behavior has much to do w/the person. no 2 people are alike, even mexicans. i did find that professionals, doctors lawyers etc tend to be more communicative about dinner parties or planned visits, especially weddings. i still stand behind my statement about annoying behaviors from a backward mountain town. as workers begin to understand higher expectations, they begin to behave differently. they end up w/more clients, make more money. even if they charge a bit more, they get a good reputation. also english is a valuable skill. dont forget the mexican govt has encouraged people to retire here. possibly that may not be the case so much now, as more mexicans move to chapala area. its 6 of one 1/2 dozen of the other. as for people staying in the gated communities, it is their freedom. as mexicans can stay in their barrios in texas arizona, not mix, or care to learn english. let not put a double standard on global migrations. i think americans forget our god given right to exist in the manner we choose (except overstepping political ground). let old folks stay inside the development. you yourself can mingle all you wish!

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Thanks, More Liana, to responding to Manny's post. I couldn't have explained it better. This has been exactly my experience, and with understanding it as a culture difference, I am less likely to be offended when someone doesn't show up or call. I just take it as sort of normal.

My landladies, who are just lovely, said they were coming Saturday tp put some furniture in my apt. They didn't. But eventually it will happen.And there was no email or other communication. I find myself being less offended and reactive. This is my point.

Years ago when I would drive around Mexico in my car alone, I would often ask for directions. Another cultural difference I have encountered is that some Mexican people, wanting to be so kind and helpful, will give you a bum steer rather than telling you they don't know how to direct you. I learned to be very careful, asking several folks to see if I could get the same general directions. It paid to cross check.

I'm sorry if I offended a poster who didn't like to be pooled into the "assertive and blunt" American category. I suppose that deduction comes from those I have worked with in the helping professions such as court work, child protection, addictions recovery and the like. But I think the average American is less demure than the average. Mexican. I know I am hahahahaha

Just my opinion.

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Thanks, More Liana, to responding to Manny's post. I couldn't have explained it better. This has been exactly my experience, and with understanding it as a culture difference, I am less likely to be offended when someone doesn't show up or call. I just take it as sort of normal.

My landladies, who are just lovely, said they were coming Saturday tp put some furniture in my apt. They didn't. But eventually it will happen.And there was no email or other communication. I find myself being less offended and reactive. This is my point.

Years ago when I would drive around Mexico in my car alone, I would often ask for directions. Another cultural difference I have encountered is that some Mexican people, wanting to be so kind and helpful, will give you a bum steer rather than telling you they don't know how to direct you. I learned to be very careful, asking several folks to see if I could get the same general directions. It paid to cross check.

I'm sorry if I offended a poster who didn't like to be pooled into the "assertive and blunt" American category. I suppose that deduction comes from those I have worked with in the helping professions such as court work, child protection, addictions recovery and the like. But I think the average American is less demure than the average. Mexican. I know I am hahahahaha

Just my opinion.

Virgogal, thanks for your compliment.

You wrote, "Years ago when I would drive around Mexico in my car alone, I would often ask for directions. Another cultural difference I have encountered is that some Mexican people, wanting to be so kind and helpful, will give you a bum steer rather than telling you they don't know how to direct you." I used to think the same thing, as do many, but I believe that we are all incorrect. In many ways, the general culture of Mexico (and I use that term to differentiate from the belief that there is ONLY one culture in this country--Bisbee Gal hit the nail on the head in her post, there are many cultures here) is similar to general Asian cultures: telling you how to get where you want to go, even if the directions are incorrect, is unconsciously about not losing face by admitting a lack of knowledge. By the time you get several blocks or kilometers down the road, the person who gave you the directions knows you won't come back looking for him/her to express your displeasure and after all, he/she might have been right after all. Quién sabe y Dios dirá!

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I am going to post an incident of which I am so ashamed and embaressed of. Shortly after I moved here in 2010, I was at Super Lake, couldn't find something I wanted so asked one of the girls there where it might me. She had no clue what I was saying and believe or not I actually said under my breath "Jeez, why don;t you learn some English?" As soon as I said it, even under by breath, I was so ashamed of myself and said "Jeez Jeanne you need to learn some Spanish" So the moral of my story is I am in a foreign country and need to adapt to the language and culture. By the way, I'm doing better, learning more each day.

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