For those who don’t know: Chapala, Axixic, etc are in a beautiful location, with great weather, and are likely the largest gringo-haven in all of Mexico. This area has the what have been the 2 most active Mexican-gringo forums, with insidelakeside.com being the slightly more rough-and-tumble version (including “The Octagon” for cage fighting) and Chapala.com being more staid and very heavily moderated. Both forums have their old-hand reliable posters, like Spencer “Intercasa”, who consistently give advice that fits both the legal aspects of working with Aduana and INM while consistently staying well grounded in the realities of how things actually work, and their share of insightful posters, plus the usual mix of the grumpy, the funny, the right-wingers, the left-wingers, back-benchers, folks frustrated that we-sold-everything-and-moved-to-Mexico-and-now-we’re-not-getting-what-we-were-promised, personal-feuders, the bored-with-the-rest-of-life-so-I-spend-a-lot-of-time-on-the-internet, trouble-makers, Cliff Clavin know-it-alls, and a few very insightful commentators who lay-in-the-weeds waiting for some tasty bit to float by.
Chapala.com’s latest hot topic is “mexico 10th happiest country in the world” at http://www.chapala.com/wwwboard/webboard.html. (Referencing the USA Today article: “USA not one of 10 happiest countries in world.)
The first 2 pages of posts contain the standard: ” Mexicans are… ”
where gringos openly muse about their own personal (aka narrow) versions of who Mexicans are and why. Their replies include the old standards: Mexicans are very family oriented, etc. plus a some revealing answers that expose what many gringos actually think:
“I’m as happy as I want to be. “
“I could be happier, so send lots of money and we will test the theory and report back on the results. 😀”
“… maybe it’s the sex on the tv that is keeping them both in the top 14! :blink: ”
“…maybe lack of education plays a part (in making Mexicans happy), as it doesn’t take a lot to please a 5th or 6th grader. Hard to find much on Mexican TV that is intellectual and thought provoking and not geared toward sex. 😀 ”
“Think back, waaay back to when we were teenagers, adolescent young and full of “stuff” & vinegar, weren’t we happy? – of course we were, we had, or took, little responsibility, life was a party, let’s get wild and crazy – remember all that? Well friends and neighbors, look around you, you are living in the middle of a country whose culture is completely adolescent – in short, we’re living in a country full of adolescent teenagers, run by teenagers. They don’t think things through, they take little, if any, responsibility and they’re not trying to set the world on fire, just a little hot spot under a globas. ”
Maybe this poster is being sarcastic?
Reading a bit further down, (after other gringos chimed in to support the Mexicans are just irresponsible teenagers masquerading as adults theory):
“Well, I’m slow at times and it must have taken me two years and a fair amount of cerveza to finally realize what was happening, once I did it changed the way I look at almost everything here in MX. It didn’t “fix” any problems, and some days I’m still at wits end, but then I just calm down and put it in perspective, but it really does answer a lot of questions doesn’t it?”
followed by these replies:
“Oh my Gawd Giltner 68. that explains everything! Never thought of it like that, you must be a psychiatrist ?”
“Exactly. I was about to contribute the same, but you beat me to it. Thanks. ” and
“He’s just ticked over the car issue but so are most of us.”
… Is this really what gringos believe in the privacy of their minds and repeat at gringo gatherings?
Since I tend not to hang out with gringos, I really don’t know, so I continued to read-on.
The next bits that jumped out…
“After reading all the comments, I am left wondering how many of the nay-sayers and critics are married to Mexicans?
How many have Mexican families, to know how Mexicans live, think, and love, up close, without the filtering that goes on between strangers and acquaintances ?
If we don’t live with people 24/7 for a decade or so, can we really know who they are and what makes them tick?
If the posters live in neighborhoods with enough other gringos that they socialize with gringos, can they really know what makes Mexicans happy or unhappy?
How many of the posters are modestly fluent in Spanish?
If you can’t speak well enough to understand the local humor, can you really imagine how Mexicans really think and what makes them happy? When was the last time the you made the Mexicans in the room break out in laughter over something insightful you said? Just how adept are you at understanding, and using doble sentidos ?
This is like the zoo animals speculating on what us makes humans happy, as the humans parade past them speaking a language that neither the lions, elephants, donkeys, or apes understand.
If one only peers out from inside an enclave, without really knowing the language, or the culture, or the history, then can the viewer really know what makes the Mexicans tick?
Regarding planning, around the world, are gardeners, cleaning ladies, store clerks, and gas station attendants known for planning their lives? If the gringo commentators do not personally hang out with Mexican business owners, architects, teachers, doctors, lawyers, chemists, biologists, engineers, and a host of other Mexicans who do not live on week-to-week finances, then you likely don’t know how hilarious it is to read that “Mexicans are like irresponsible adolescent teenagers who do not plan.”
Instead think about: keeping Mom happy, striving to please key others, avoiding conflict, enjoying what they find truly important like time with their children, a good laugh, black black humor, and enough ni modo attitudes to let troubles roll off your back as good starting points to describe the roots of Mexican happiness.
Mexicans rightfully see slightly-plump to heavy women as beautiful and desireable. Mexicans rightfully see elders as beautiful and valued. Mexicans highly value having good relations with their adult children. Mexicans dote on children and indulge children. Mexican parents do not eagerly look forward to kicking their kids out of the house at age 18. Mexican kids are generally welcome to stay with mom and dad until age 27 or 30. Mexicans value life-long friends differently from US citizens, as my wife goes out monthly with her friends from grade school – friends from middle school – and friends from high school.
These are things that are pretty unusual in the USA.
US citizens rally around causes, spending $100’s of billions of dollars every year to try to control what happens in other countries. US citizens gratefully and willingly support a military that has bases and installations in 75% of the world’s countries. Americans love to speculate about how to control things at home, at work, and around the world, which drives the never-ending news cycles and the hunger for more power and control at home and at work. Mexicans generally don’t worry about all the things in far off places in the world, and not even so much things at their work place. They care about their families, their friends, their co-workers, and their neighbors. Americans worry about Syria, and Israel, and Iran, and Afghanistan and Wall Street, and the next promotion, and North Korea, and on and on and on.
If the posters have not lived the things and ways that Mexicans value, then how can they understand why these things are so important – and they can’t really understand why Mexicans would self describe themselves as happy – even though they have lower levels of education and less stuff than Americans.
Maybe having a roof over your head that you own (no mortgage payment worries),
maybe having a car that you own (no car payment worries),
maybe having enough to eat, where Mexico’s food poverty rates are lower than the US, where 1 in 5 US children literally do not know where their next meal is coming from, (no big food worries)
maybe having a job that starts at 8:00 and ends at 4:00, (no worrying about climbing the ladder)
maybe having more things in life that you value more than your car, your house, and your toys,
maybe having a national health treatment safety network to protect you and your family,
maybe sharing good close relationships with your parents, sibs, and your adult children and grandchildren,
maybe looking forward to a nice party this weekend
all add up to create national happiness? ”
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We’ve published “snowco’s” stuff before, and he seems to enjoy watching the circus, and weighing-in only after the dust has settled.
- snowyco continues immediately with another post on the heels of the first, shifting to different themes:
~ ~ ~ ~
“If you want to understand the keys to national and personal happiness, don’t just focus on Mexico.
Open the list and take a look at the whole list of happy countries, and figure out what common factors they all share.
All of these countries – studiously and historically – avoid trying to control other countries.
All of these countries currently and historically value personal freedom as expressed through allowing other people to live free, and be free to do what the others find important and fullfilling.
Canadians, Finns, Danes, Dutchmen, Freisians, Norwegians, Icelanders, Swedes, Swiss, Austrians, and Mexicans are notoriously un-interested in dominating discussions, un-interested in dominating the world stage, un-interested in controlling their neighbors, and uninterested in attacking, invading, or militarily protecting others.
These happy societies are known for caring for others in their own cultures.
These happy societies are known for putting social safety nets in place to help every one of their citizens in need.
These happy societies are known for deeply caring for family members.
Ironically, all of these happy societies are focused on making things good inside their own countries,
and they spend little or no energy meddling in or trying to control the lives of other nations.
Ironically, all of these countries highly value treating others with respect .
These happy societies highly value doing the altruistic things that help others,
rather than trying to force some ideology or code of behavior onto others.
These happy societies put heavy focus on the welfare and well being of their countrymen.
Wonder what countries are on the list?
5. Denmark (a previous #1 in past studies)
Hmmmmm…. Maybe regular sunshine is a bad thing, if you want to be happy ?
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Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry
Read on, MacDuff.