Gringo’s Expectations, Gaijin’s Frustrations

As a foreigner coming to Mexico for the first time, it’s hard to know what to expect. No country is ever how you expect it to be. Maybe the superficial details will match what you’ve seen in movies or Youtube or whatever, but the true experience of a place can’t be conveyed that way. Which is pretty fucking annoying.

You’ll never know if you’re going to like a place until you show up. I know a lot of people who show up in Japan after dreaming about it their whole lives… And they fucking hate it. It’s expensive there, and the people are pretty much all racist. Nobody tells you that Japan is a country of bigots. Granted, they mainly hate Koreans and Chinese, but there’s a casual ignorance in their treatment of white people that rarely sees emphasis in media.

In Japan, you’re like a dog who can talk. You show up at parties and everybody wants to hear you bark. But you speak their language, and suddenly you’re a dog who wants to sit at the table. No, no, back to your cage, filthy mongrel, the adults are eating.

Mexico couldn’t me more different. Sure, I get stared at here, but the stares are warmer here. They’re curious. Children smile at me when I pass by. I wave at people and sometimes they wave back. It’s a nice feeling.

There is love here for the Gringos. We’re a rare species in San Luis, as rare as in many Japanese cities, but we’re not strictly foreign. In Asia, you will never escape the label of “foreigner”. You can read and write and speak their language better than a native, but you will never be a Japanese in their eyes. Mexicans, however, couldn’t give less of a shit. Oh, it’s a gringo. Can he speak well enough to order some elote and a coke? Yeah? Well then, welcome to Mexico whiteboy.

Seriously. I can strike up a conversation with a Mexican like it’s nothing. They ask me where I’m from because generally they actually care. In Japan, the first question is typically, “why are you here?”. Mexicans know why I’m here. I’m here because I love their culture and I want to speak their language and their food is the fucking bomb. They want to know about my life, not about what mistakes I made that led me to their country. Maybe Mexicans love their culture and Japanese are all self-loathing assholes deep down. Or maybe I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. Who knows.

Anyway, the expectations of Mexico for a gringo are… A mixed bag, to say the least. I half expected to be mugged and/or scammed on my first day walking around. Nothing like that happened. People tried to sell me some shit, but that’s about it. Sure, Japan is a safe place, but Mexico is alive. There’s just a sense of life here in the street that you can feel. People walking, doing business, eating, sucking face in public… It’s refreshing to see all that shit laid out and open. Everything in Japan happens behind closed doors, and it serves to reinforce the sense of isolation you feel as a foreigner.

Japanese often describe Japan as an “island nation”, and their behavior very much reflects that attitude. “Welcome to our island. Spend your money, say some funny shit in English, and get the fuck out.” Mexicans honestly don’t give a shit if you speak English. If you speak to them in Spanish, you bet your ass they’re going to speak it right back to you. I can’t tell you how many times Japanese have refused to speak Japanese to me. “Come on doggy, get back in your gaijin box and say some funny shit for us to laugh at”.

There’s a subtle elitism in the air in Japan. Mexico couldn’t be elitist if it tried. Welcome to Mexico. Have some fucking fried shit and learn some curse words, because you’re about to have the time of your god damn life.

Viva Mexico motherfuckers.

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