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Mexican Living Survival Tip # 10 – Love, Belonging, Power, And Fun

William Glasser, M.D., of Reality Therapy fame, said this,

“…I believe that we are genetically programmed to satisfy four psychological needs: love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.”

If this is true, then you need to have a plan, a huge plan, for just how you are going to be able to meet these needs if you expatriate to Mexico. If you don’t, then what will happen is what I see all the time in American gringos.

They move to Guanajuato. For reasons I cannot fath...

guanajuato,mexico,san miguel allende

William Glasser, M.D., of Reality Therapy fame, said this,

“…I believe that we are genetically programmed to satisfy four psychological needs: love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.”

If this is true, then you need to have a plan, a huge plan, for just how you are going to be able to meet these needs if you expatriate to Mexico. If you don’t, then what will happen is what I see all the time in American gringos.

They move to Guanajuato. For reasons I cannot fathom, they move here not knowing more than two words of Spanish. But they come and somehow they start a life here.

They spend their days holed up in front of satellite television where they can watch all the shows they watched in America. They drive a car to the supermarket to shop. They come home and sit in front of the satellite television and watch more of the shows they watched when they were in the United States.

They claim that the majority of their friends are Mexican. This is a wonder since they themselves cannot speak Spanish. So, I deduce that they have to mean that the majority of their friends are Mexicans who are bilingual. This has to mean there are a few Mexicans in Guanajuato who speak at least some English.

These gringos cannot attend cultural functions that require them to understand Spanish. The only movies they see are those they’ve brought from the United States because the movies in the theaters here are usually in Spanish.

There I go again haranguing about Spanish.

In my view, this is no way to live. This type of life would not meet my need for belonging or fun in any way. What kind of existence is that? If I wanted to live like that I would not have gone to the enormous bother to move to Mexico. You might be interested to know that these expats make frequent trips to the U.S. to get things they cannot obtain in Mexico. This translates to this:

“We cannot really stand Mexico. We tolerate it only because it is cheap to live here and it has year-round good weather. But, in the end, Mexico does not appeal to our American tastes. That’s why we spent a small fortune to bring our American materialistic goods to Mexico and why we go back to the U.S. to obtain those things which appeal to our American tastes.”

Why go to the bother to move here if you are looking for things that appeal to your American tastes? Why not stay in America?

These are people who somehow, someway manage to bungle themselves into living in a part of Mexico that is not really gringo-friendly. They would have been better suited to living in a place like San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta.

They are not meeting their basic human need for fun or belonging because they cannot. The reason they cannot is because they are too linguistically challenged to participate in any activities other than watching satellite television and socializing with the few expats who live in Guanajuato.

If you cannot or will not learn Spanish, then it would be advisable to expatriate to an area of Mexico where you do not have to speak the language. In those areas, the cost of living is going to be considerably higher. Everything from food to housing to entertainment will cost you far more than if you lived in Guanajuato.

My wife and I were once sitting in El Jardin when a gringo woman approached us. She was dressed like a San Miguel resident. We soon learned our initial impression was correct. She was from San Miguel de Allende and was in Guanajuato looking for a place to live. She could no longer afford to pay the increasing rent charged by San Miguel landlords.

She told us that she was having great difficulty finding housing (she didn’t speak Spanish…could that possibly contribute to her problem?). She also told us that she heard there were no cultural events in Guanajuato.

Believe this or not, I am convinced that the majority of gringos in San Miguel de Allende, if the truth be known, believe this.

This woman was actually told that there was nothing fun to do in Guanajuato. Her perception of fulfilling her human need for fun was to attend cultural events like concerts, the theater, and movies. She was told she would not be able to do that here because they did not exist!

We told her that there is the three-week-long International Festival of Arts in Guanajuato—The Cervantino Festival—each October, not to mention the many year-round events. But, we informed her, you have to be able to speak Spanish to understand them. This is a Spanish-speaking town.

Guanajuato defines fun with its year-round events. There is theater, movies (commercial and fine arts), there are concerts, art exhibits, etc… However, if you wanted to attend a movie you have to speak Spanish. When we first moved here, a lot of movies were in English with Spanish subtitles. Now, more and more movies are entirely in Spanish with no subtitles at all.

Thank God for that!

This woman, whose visage is burned into my memory, said sadly, “Oh, then I guess I would have to learn some Spanish.” She said it like someone who just realized they would have to take rabies shots.

There is a lot in this town to satisfy your human psychological need for love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. I wonder just what Americans think the Mexican nationals do here all day long: sit like lumps scratching themselves and grunting like apes?

Mexicans have to meet their basic psychological needs too. They do it much like Americans do. They go to movies, the theater, concerts, opera, lectures, parties, and to social gatherings where they have human fellowship.

But, as I am at the point of being sickeningly repetitious, Americans cannot do this here because they are not able to handle the language. There is not a huge gringo population with which to have involvement.

And, because they cannot handle the language, they are forced either to seek out the few gringos with whom they can speak English or they hole up in their houses with their satellite televisions.

I cannot understand this. Maybe it is psychologically damaging in the long run to move to Guanajuato if you will not learn Spanish. Your ability to meet the psychological need for love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun will be relegated to watching your satellite television, driving to the Supermarket, and getting back home to watch more satellite television. Just how long with you last doing that?

That is too pathetic to imagine.

The lesson here:

You could expatriate to Guanajuato where the weather is almost perfect all year and life is inexpensive. You could somehow muddle through getting a place to live and set up your life. You could do this without being able to speak the language. People do it. But, your life, the ability to meet your basic psychological need for “…love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun…” is going to be via satellite television.

Who would want to live like that?

 

Mexican Living Survival Tip #6 - Medical Care

I am happy as a peacock to report that Mexico does not have much in the way of Creepy Dangerous Things that come out in the night to do you in while you sleep.

There are, however, some things that can give one pause. Unlike Australia where there are many things to bite you, sting you, poke you, and generally make you die as the result of your encounter with them, Mexico is relatively safe. Mexico does have a few things that you probably do not want to encounter on a regula...

guanajuato,mexico,san miguel allende

I am happy as a peacock to report that Mexico does not have much in the way of Creepy Dangerous Things that come out in the night to do you in while you sleep.

There are, however, some things that can give one pause. Unlike Australia where there are many things to bite you, sting you, poke you, and generally make you die as the result of your encounter with them, Mexico is relatively safe. Mexico does have a few things that you probably do not want to encounter on a regular basis.

Mexico has two lizards which are kissing cousins, The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectrum) and The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum). The Gila monster (take careful note of the word, “monster”) lives in the desert regions of Mexico. The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum)—horridum as in HORROR—is found from Mexico to South America. Both of these, while poisonous, are docile and do not seek you out to kill you.

Many years ago when I was a college student, a student in one of the dorms kept one of these hideous lizards in his room in a fish tank. When his roommate would go home for the weekend, he would take his poisonous pet out of the tank and let it loose in the room so he could clean the tank in which the venomous beast slept. His roommate came back to campus earlier than usual and failed to warn his roommate. The nasty creature was in his bed. The university student was bitten but survived the attack.

Did I mention it is called, “(Heloderma horridum)—horridum as in HORROR”?

“The venom apparatus is much less sophisticated than that of most venomous snakes. A pair of multilobed labial venom glands (modified submandibular glands) lie in the anterior portion of the lower jaw. Venom is conducted from each lobe through a duct and is deposited into a labial mucosal pocket adjacent to the anterior teeth.

The teeth (approximately 20 per jaw) are grooved and loosely attached to the jaws. Venom is conducted via capillary action along these grooves into the victim's tissues as the lizard bites and chews. The more irritated the lizard is when it bites, the more it salivates and the greater the venom yield. Effective envenomation in humans probably occurs in less than 70% of bites.

The venoms of these 2 lizards are relatively similar and contain a number of components, including hyaluronidase, phospholipase A, serotonin, and highly active kallikreins that release vasoactive kinins. In laboratory animals, the venom is as potent as some rattlesnake venoms. Rare hyper-- sensitivity to helodermatid venom has been reported. Bites are very infrequent and usually involve captive specimens. It is probable that a significant number of bites go unreported because private keepers of these protected lizards may be reluctant to seek medical attention.”

I would avoid these creatures if I were you.

The second creepy creature that you are most likely to encounter in Mexico is your friend and mine: THE SCORPION!

Mexico is host to the fifth most dangerous scorpion in the world. The most dangerous ones live in the Middle East.

“They sting in self defence using their tail sting which in most cases is very painful rather than life threatening.

However, potentially lethal scorpions do exist in Mexico, South America, The Caribbean, North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent which can cause neurotoxicity with blurred vision and breathing difficulty, myocardial damage and pancreatitis. Immediate medical help should always be sought if bitten.”

The correct term should be, “stung”. Spiders bite. Scorpions sting.

Scorpions are amazing creatures and beneficial to the environment. There are a few species that can kill you and should be avoided at all costs. Mexico has one of those species and they are not that uncommon!

“You find scorpions (Buthotus species) in deserts, jungles, and forests of tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas of the world. They are mostly nocturnal in habit. You can find desert scorpions from below sea level in Death Valley to elevations as high as 3,600 meters in the Andes. Typically brown or black in moist areas, they may be yellow or light green in the desert. Their average size is about 2.5 centimeters. However, there are 20-centimeter giants in the jungles of Central America, New Guinea, and southern Africa.

Fatalities from scorpion stings are rare, but they can occur in children, the elderly, and ill persons.”

There are two classes of poisons in the world of these vile creatures. One causes a sharp and very unpleasant pain like a bee or wasp sting. You could suffer death if you have an allergy to this venom. The other class of scorpion venom is somewhat akin to the neuro-toxic Coral Snake and Cobras.
Isn’t that a lovely thought!

“The symptoms resemble poisoning with strychnine and frequently death results. Many fatalities from scorpion stings occur in parts of Mexico.”

In fact, in the yearly report we read in the papers here, there maybe as many as 2000 deaths per year from scorpions. Which species is involved in these deaths is hard to tell for many reasons.

All human hazardous scorpions belong to the Buthidae (Buthoid) family. In the New World, it is the most “notorious Centruroides suffusus (Pocock, 1902), respectively titled "alacran de Durango".

Where I live, south of Durango, we have both classes of scorpions. We have the ones that will try to kill you with the most hideously painful sting. Then, we have the one that is like having a cobra bite you. This one, however, is not indigenous to Guanajuato.

What happens is that The Leather Capitol of the World, Leon, Guanajuato, gets its leather goods from Durango. This is where the lethal scorpions live and make babies. They apparently hitch a ride in the leather goods that get sold in Leon. They hide in the pockets and get sewn up into the collars of different types of leather clothing. A favorite hiding place might be inside that new purse you just bought…the one that might now be the cause of your premature death!

These scorpions not only nail the leather goods sellers and buyers but escape to begin a new life in the state of Guanajuato. Most of the stings of these creatures with their cobra-like venom occur in Leon each year!

They have been seen in the city of Guanajuato, however. The thing to do if you expatriate to Mexico is to keep plenty of pain killer tablets, anti-inflammatory cream, and cases of antihistamines on hand at all time. If you get stung, panic will probably only hasten your demise. Take the pills, rub on the creams, then get to the nearest doctor. Mexican doctors are experts in treating scorpion stings.

So, what do you think now of possibly expatriating to Mexico? Can I expect you for La Cena?

 

Mexican Living Survival Tip #7- Other Gringos

You would not think that mentioning Other Gringos in an Expat Survival Guide would be necessary but after I am through you will write to thank me. It is necessary and we struggle with this on a daily basis.

This Survival Tip will more or less apply depending on what region of Mexico you might want to live. If you end up in an area like San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta, then you can skip this Survival Tip if you want. If you really have as your heart’s desire to set...

guanajuato,mexico,san miguel allende

You would not think that mentioning Other Gringos in an Expat Survival Guide would be necessary but after I am through you will write to thank me. It is necessary and we struggle with this on a daily basis.

This Survival Tip will more or less apply depending on what region of Mexico you might want to live. If you end up in an area like San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta, then you can skip this Survival Tip if you want. If you really have as your heart’s desire to settle in the city of Guanajuato, or any other Colonial Town in Central Mexico, then you need to read this Survival Tip.

It is my observation that there are two categories into which expatriate or tourist Gringos fall.

One is the Gringo who is used to getting his way all his life. He regards all those outside his socioeconomic class as people meant by God to serve him. He must have those who share his worldview of how life itself should work in his presence at all times. He parties with those within his class and would not think of stepping outside his circle. He will not tolerate anything outside his mindset of how something should be done.

Either learning Spanish would seem absolutely ridiculous or he would think himself fluent because he knows a repertoire of exactly 4 Spanish words. This Gringo, however, would call it speaking “Mexican” instead of Spanish.

The other Gringo is the one who expatriates to (or tours) Mexico with the idea that this is someone else’s country and by God, he will show the respect these people deserve. He doesn’t regard America as the perfect culture that all countries of the earth should emulate.

He isn’t shocked that few Mexicans speak English. He makes every effort, sometimes a Herculean one, to try and learn some S-P-A-N-I-S-H. He actually understands it is not called “speaking some of dat der Mexican…” He loves and respect the language. He understands that Spanish, and not English, is the language spoken in this country and that Mexicans are very happy with their choice of Spanish.

He does not seek to act out his pathologies in public and probably has very few to begin with. He is in this country to learn a new language, to absorb this culture, assimilate into it, and to become a part of the community.

He also totally understands that to do this he not only could not, but would not, live in an “American Sector” if there was one. He rejoices ecstatically that there are none in the city he loves—Guanajuato. He eschews Gringo Gulches and Gringo Landias and would never live in an area that had such a thing.

This Gringo lives to fit into the Mexican landscape and would never think of making typical American demands on the people he now calls his own.

“Where’s the damned taco!”

“You call this a taco?”

”I wanted change and not pesos.”

These thoughts would never fill his head. Never!
I write a lot each tourist season about tourists. I write about Americans who come to Mexico and demand that this be nothing but an American-style foreign country where all the locals speak some funny lingo they think is called “Messican”.

I am not exaggerating. They really do this.

The Gringos who act like the stereotypical Americans, you know, the stereotype that the rest of the world holds of us, also fall into two categories.

One is the Gringo who has moved to a Gringo Gulch (Puerto Vallarta) or San Miguel de Allende (Gringo Landia). These people have effectively, like an invading army of barbarians, gone into these cities, bought every piece of real estate in sight, and now call it their own. They think the city is theirs. They believe they run it. They regard the “messicans” as those meant to serve them—those who invaded and conquered.

And, they would be absolutely right.

I was having this conversation with a professional Mexican here in Guanajuato. He is a professor at one of the city universities. He told me that there are two problems with San Miguel de Allende. One is that the young people went to American and learned thuggery there and then returned to implement American-style gangs in San Miguel de Allende. The second problem, far worse than the first, is that:

“The Americans own San Miguel de Allende, they know they do, and Mexico is doing nothing about it.”

And, my professional university Mexican friend would be absolutely right.

I always tell Americans to whom I tell this story, most of whom vehemently doubt me, to come here and see for themselves. One lady did this. She stayed for a couple of days then reported back that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

She could not speak the language, so how would she know if she could not talk to the locals about this issue!

Americans! Aren’t they a riot?

Americans have bought much more than all the choice real estate in San Miguel de Allende. They have bought the Mexican people too.

I make a habit of stopping Gringos on the streets where I live for one reason. I want to garner more writing material. I am rarely disappointed.

The observant touring Gringos, when asked if they have been to San Miguel de Allende, will usually say something like,

“I have. What’s wrong with that town?”

“I tried speaking Spanish there but the locals all responded in English.”

“It seems so sad over there.”

The unobservant touring Gringos always say that they loved it. I am never surprised at that.

The second type of Gringo that would fall into this group are those Americans, and some Canadians, who come here for Holiday, Vacation & Tour expecting the following:

• Everyone in the tourist industry to speak English. If they don’t, then he or she is getting ripped off.
• The food here should be designed to suit his or her American tastes.
• The architecture should suit his or her American tastes.
• Life at the quantum level should suit his or her American tastes here because he or she is an American.

They also expect to be able to act like they were raised by bears in a cave when anything isn’t according to their American tastes.

The way this works out is that you will see the same public displays of rage on the streets of Mexico that you would expect to see these Americans display in America!

If they do not get their way then you can expect to hear about it.

We’ve seen adult Americans scream like banshees when the food they are served doesn’t taste like the Tex-Mex crap in some chain restaurant in America. They will curse like sailors when they cannot get a waiter that is bilingual. They will turn red and run off screaming because they cannot get their way.

Stupidly, I am always caught unaware each tourist season. I should really make the effort to mark something on the calendar that “American Gringo fit pitching is here” on the appropriate month of the year.

But, there I am, sitting with my beloved in the Jardin when suddenly we hear the hydrogen bomb of American indignation going on behind us. Predictably, it will be an American Gringo tourist or one of the expats from San Miguel or Vallarta in our city acting like heathens!
Here is what is so humiliating. The locals who have seen my mug for years (most know that I live in Guanajuato) will look at the fit-pitching cry babies Gringos then immediately look at me as though I am somehow guilty by association.

They have these looks on their faces like I owe them some sort of explanation for the asinine behavior of my fellow countrymen. I usually shrug my shoulders and then sink as low as I can in the bench, pulling up the collar of my shirt to cover my visage.

I guess the question is, which type of Gringo do you want to be? If you want to be able to act like wolves raised you, then move to San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta.

If you want to learn the language and absorb the culture, then find somewhere where the heathen Gringos are not!

Go there!




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