‘Attitudes’ – Mexican Musings #3

We’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico. I thought it might be fun to post an occasional story about our experiences there. Nothing particularly themed or structured. Just ‘musings’…

For Linda, a Mexican voyage is a chance to fine-tune her authentic Mexican cocina.  For me, it’s an opportunity to enjoy this people with whom I’ve always connected – perhaps because I, too, am a Latin; and to observe and try to understand the attitudes and behaviors of North Americans (Gringos) who travel to Mexico on their boats by the thousands every year. I make no judgment as to whether the gringos’ attitudes are positive or negative; that’s a personal interpretation.  I’m merely reporting my observations.

One reason we travel south is the Mexican attitude to guests. “Mi casa es su casa,” they say. My home is your home. It’s usually a heartfelt and sincere statement. Certainly, Linda and I have always been welcomed with open arms, and we’re gradually learning the subtleties of Mexican attitudes.  For example, in many real Mexican restaurants, you will not get a check at the end of your meal.  You have to ask for it because to bring it sooner would be asking you to leave, and that’s inhospitable.

It’s easy to abuse Mexican hospitality by accident.  Misunderstanding “mañana” is the cause of much of that abuse. When a Mexican says that something will occur “mañana,” we gringos believe that literally means ‘tomorrow,’ but go to your Berlitz travel dictionary and you’ll discover that it means tomorrow or morning, to Mexicans, it really means “No hoy” – or ‘Not today.’

Hand in hand with ‘not today (but I’m not sure when)’ goes ‘I don’t want to frustrate or hassle you and so I’ll agree.’ This is indicated by “si, si, si” or “bueno;” and, in more touristy places, “OK, okey-dokey” or “sure!”

So, if you hear ‘OK, mañana, bueno, for sure, OK, senor, okey-dokey’ don’t get up at first light and wait with decreasing hope and increasing irritation.  Above all, don’t relay the irritation to the irritant because that will only lead to more assurances, more frustration.

Nor does ‘You should do it this way’ go down well in Mexico – at least, not if spoken by a gringo to a Mexican.  Perhaps Mexicans say it all the time to each other.  I don’t know.  We North Americans are, in general, organized and efficient.  We’re certain that our way is faster and more profitable.  Perhaps it is but our way is not the Mexican way and (in this instance) we’re in Mexico.

For the Mexican, the Mexican way has worked happily for centuries and will probably continue to do so for centuries to come.  Here, ‘happily’ is an operative word.

It’s probably fairly obvious that my attitude to Mexican attitudes is that it’s healthy for us to adopt some of them.  On the other hand, in this super-competitive world, it may be that Mexico could embrace some gringo attitudes if it’s to prosper globally.

The trick will be to find a balance between “mañana” and ‘I want it yesterday.’ I truly hope that’s possible because, for sure, once you embrace or at least understand Mexican attitudes, ‘their’ way is far less stressful than ours.