This is not cool at all…

Disclaimer: I have been prodded into writing this opinion piece by people blabbing away on the forums. Many who post on First MERIDA AMIGOS ask reasonable questions or write supportive opinion but there are some who should not be so …

I am Canadian and am often teased by Americans because my countrymen and women are accustomed to prefacing our statements with: “I’m sorry, but …” or “I don’t mean to offend, but…” or “it isn’t my business, but…” And actually, in the USA, there are similar expressions, such as “Bless her heart, but …” or “God love her, but…”
However, to my dismay, in recent years, many Canadians and Americans have replaced the “polite disclaimers” with crude acronyms, such as “WTF…” or “BFD…” or “FFS…” And this is the first point I will make in this post. This dumbing-down of language is personally offensive to me. I don’t think it is necessary to use abbreviations of F-word expressions to describe every collective or compound noun, every subject, object or article… I believe there are equally “colourful” and “forceful” adjectives and adverbs that will adequately express any possible emotion or opinion. So what, some may ask. That’s how I feel, is my answer. And when such three-letter expletives are used to describe a serious situation, I get even more incensed. Any person of substance will say: Serious times and opinion require serious language – or more plainly stated – You should THINK before you spout off in public.

Well, I have thought a lot about what I need to write in this post; and I cannot hold back any longer. I’m tired of hearing and reading so much drivel. Usually “Pollyanna Joanna” keeps quiet or waters down her opinion with platitudes, but sorry, I am NOT into political correctness today.

I am furious with some of the comments I am reading on facebook groups. I don’t care if these people are “just venting” they are insensitive, and behaving in bad taste and are acting against our Yucatecan society’s best interests.

To such individuals, I ask: Did you read the post I wrote yesterday? Do those numbers mean nothing to you? Is it right that you enjoy the beach, restaurants, inexpensive liquor and absence of snow… without feeling any responsibility? And from time to time I have heard some whine that Yucatecans (or Mexicans in general) are not “friendly”. Can you blame them?

Life in Mexico is not easy; you need to have a high income in pesos to live like many “expats” live on a middle class dollar income. About 80% of Mexico’s population does not have disposable income; on their birthdays. they can’t afford to eat in the restaurants where many foreigners casually go for lunch. They get dressed up to attend functions where some foreign residents show up in tank tops and shorts. They politely refrain from saying what they really feel about racist US policy.

And so how do you think they would feel if they realised what you write about them and their governor’s position with regards to the COVID 19 pandemic? Many (not all) of you are guests in Mexico, many (not all) of you have not even bothered to learn more than a few words in Spanish. Many don’t have many (if any) Mexican friends… so why do you think you have the right to spout off?

I think the true purpose of forums is to ask questions and learn from others… the lady who uses an electric scooter is worried how she will get around without someone to lift it in and out of the car. That is a valid question. But those who say they are bored and want the beer sales to come back… I have to hope you are writing to get a rise out of people… and are not truly serious. I also like alcohol, but anyone who puts it before the citizens’ safety has a problem they should look after.

If you do not understand why citizens’ safety is directly related to the availability of alcohol you have probably never driven through an economically challenged area at night. The misery caused by alcohol abuse is enough to make some people quit drinking altogether. Children go without food, wives are beaten, young women and boys are raped by drunks who would not commit such terrible acts if they were sober. And sadly, this behaviour is not exclusive to poor areas. I have met some of the saddest women in Merida in the restroom of the Club Campestre – but that is another story.

I could go on and on; I certainly have lots more I could write with respect to what I consider oafish behaviour. But the crux of this matter is:

You are here. Strict measures are being taken to fight the COVID 19 pandemic, and “my dears” if you don’t want to follow these edicts, go live elsewhere. If your opinion does not support the greater good… keep it to yourself. Don’t have a temper tantrum on public forums. And why do I care?

I care because if Mexicans read such opinion, they will look at me and think I maybe share such sentiments. I have spent most of my life trying to be as respectful as possible to this culture. And I resent being tarred with a negative brush.

This is not cool at all.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

20 thoughts on “This is not cool at all…

  1. Thank you Joanna! As a guest here with no plans to leave, except maybe in a box, I try to be a good neighbor. I admit that I don’t know enough about what the government here and in wider Mexico are doing for covid-19 relief, but I suspect that like in the United States it is not enough. We who are fortunate to live here and still have access to the niceties we are used to should do our best to help our neighbors and acquaintances at this time. I also recommend that we support Yucatan Giving Outreach or one of the other organizations helping to feed people in this hour of need.

    On a side note, your explanation about the reasons to limit or stop liquor sales was what I believed as well. I just read yesterday that alcohol consumption may increase the virus’ growth in an individual’s system. Another reason to stop drinking alcohol, even for those who could otherwise afford it and not create more havoc in their households. I can only imagine the increase in domestic violence around the world with “bored” people sitting home and drinking half the day away. Not everyone is a mean drunk, but there are enough of them in the world to warrant the decision to stop selling alcohol, period.

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    1. Lori, you and your mom exhibit kind and loving behaviour towards your neighbours… and I have seen this in action. I remember when you got sick in San Cristobal de las Casas and your neighbour came with his son to get you. The family would not allow you to suffer on a long bus trip… they wanted to take care of you. THIS is the Mexico I know. I have met so many wonderful people and most of them have offered me all they have when I have needed it. As I said in another comment I made today… living in Mexico is not always easy but it can be so rich… it depends on us… By the way, I called you abot 3 weeks ago but did not find you home… can you PM me your current phone number; I’d love tocatch up with you.

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  2. Well said and I agree. The ignorant walk among us everywhere. I do wonder how people “from away” will be viewed in Mexico going forward. Out behaviour is critically important

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  3. Good morning, Joanna. In the short time we have become acquainted, George and I have remarked often about your passion and talent as an “ambassador” to Mexico, particularly the Yucatán. We value your respect for a culture and people we are just beginning to know during our two winters in Progreso. Your post today is a powerful reminder that we become part of the larger community while there. This is a message we all need and particularly now. Thank you for reminding us.
    Jean Olson

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  4. Thank you , Joanna, for your piece today. It is so easy,these days, to criticize others when we live fairly comfortably on our pensions and want ‘instant gratification’. This is such a trying and worrisome time and we need to cooperate and support one another, yes, using appropriate language and an effort to have compassion for our neighbours.
    Be well and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two points.

    First, thanks for writing this. I told an administrator of a local Facebook page that he might remind northerners that when they write comments those comments are also read by our Mexican neighbors. He was astounded that Mexicans would read anything on the site. That sense of colonialism underlies a lot of the problem. Too many people believe our little villages are run for their benefit. That, of course, is one of the dangers of living off of tourism. The master-servant paradigm is often magnified. The same people who refer to their waiter Juan as “a good amigo” have no compunction about talking about him as if he earned his waiting skills at McDonald’s.

    Second, I am fully with you on the abbreviated vulgaraties that pepper comments. I always assume that old people use them to make themselves appear to be cool. They are not cool. Like all swearing, vulgarities suck the life out of whatever point the person is trying to make. I have taken to deleting all posts that use any form of vulgarity. One commenter told me I was censoring him. I told him I was merely cleaning up the garbage he had left behind.

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    1. The one greatest determinator between the different groups of international residents in Mexico is that some moved here because they love the culture, the people, food, music, the weather. etc, etc. These people have what they came for – a rich life. Others came here because they could live better for less money – and they also have what they came for – a cheap life. I don’t care what anyone does or thinks but some should be a little more careful about what they insinuate. It is such a shame really because they miss so much. Life in Mexico is not always easy, but it is so interesting and stimulating. But that’s me, I have always “taken the road less traveled.” Actually I think a life that involves time in both a person’s home culture and the adopted one (or ones in your case) is absolutely as good as it gets.

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  6. I agree, generally. I read the same ”discussion”, and was struck by the lack of understanding of WHY these policies have to be implemented! Instead, the focus seemed to be on the inconvenience, or ”silliness” or ”lack of logic”. The state government has been doing just about everything it can to get people to take ”stay at home” seriously, no matter how inconvenient, or how much of a real hardship. And it is a real hardship for many. But there are still a lot of yucatecos who don’t get it, and only by implementing draconian measures for EVERYBODY will it be possible to keep the already-stretched health system working. It’s time for foreign residents to make sure that they are keeping a low profile, obeying all restrictions (no matter how stupid they may seem), and hope that enough others do the same to maintain the pandemic in check, here at least. It’s also important to realize that the lowest-income foreign resident is still ”privileged” compared to many yucatecos, and when we get to the other side of this (which I hope we all do), we foreigners should continue to tread lightly, and with sensitivity. Even pre-pandemic, there was a lot more resentment, or prejudice against, foreigners than some seem to realize, and right now people are very very tense and worried. But, good luck to us all. Cuidate, amiga.

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    1. You are so right Mary… these are unstable times, and we need to be sensitive to that. There will be MUCH hardship once we start trying to rebuild… and to tell the truth, I doubt life will ever be quite the same. I hope though that we will learn a thing or two and our lives will be more defined than they have been over the past few years… Tu también… cuidate Amiga,

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  7. Well said. People in the Yucatan (and elsewhere in Mexico) are friendly, considerate, helpful to foreigners as long as they are treated with the respect they deserve. With all the taxis I have taken in Mexico, I’m only aware of one driver overcharging, thinking he could take advantage of a gringo – only one. After carrying all my groceries into kitchen and then being refused a tip, he got the point. I remember the incident because it only happened once.

    This is a time for everyone to do their best and pull in the same direction. We are all in this together and need to help each other. With good fortune, consideration, and respect for others new attitudes may continue after the pandemic has passed. Ex-pats need to remember that they are come-by- lately residents in an ancient culture and act accordingly.

    In our lawn bowling club of 100+ members, I am the only one actually born in the Cowichan Valley, even though I have lived away for most of my adult life. Members from the rest of Canada and the U.S. make hurtful comments about some of the more colourful locals, and that things should be done differently, just as they are where they came from. These are normal, friendly, successful people who have retired out-West. If I, white, blue-eyed, and educated, feel this way, just think for a moment how Mexicans feel when they hear gringo comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything you mention is spot on. Life as we know it has changed. No getting past that, and the sooner we accept this fact and make the adjustments we need to make, the better off we’ll all be.Thank you as always for your perspective. If there is one thing that will surely alienate a person living in a different culture, it is to mention “how” (whatever) is done “at home”. The mention of the “backwardness” that exists in the new place is another sure way to get the cold shoulder. I hope you and Mark are doing OK… BIG virtual hugs!

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  8. It also occurs to me that perhaps the government officials know more about what is happening locally regarding contagion than the rest of us. I think we all agree that an excess of caution is so much better than the irrational lack of it.
    And, yes, most people who sprinkle their discourse with cuss words are only showing their inability to express their thoughts in precise language.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that the government probably knows more than they are sharing. Mexico has a large number of uneducated and easily frightened people. I have said from the start that the government is handing out details on a “need-to-know” basis. And good to read you agree with me regarding the cussing. One other commenter suspects that older people swear in attempt to sound “young”. Could be? I hope you’re all hanging in there. This too shall pass (I hope…)

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  9. Thanks, Joanna, for your well-considered thoughts! I agree totally. We as foreigners should be very careful to honor the customs and rules where we are living, especially in these difficult and dangerous times. I heard on the news today that the state of Yucatan has the best percentage (66%) in Mexico of people following the stay-at-home directives–that’s something to be proud of and to respect! It very much helps us to keep safe from this virus.

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    1. Yes, respect for the culture and people who live here is so important… even when their actions seem “wierd”. Usually when I have felt that way, I soon learn there is a good reason the local residents do things the way they do.

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