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OTHER ITA SITES:
Living In Mexico: Everyone Loves The Theater!
If you haven't been following my articles plastered all over the Internet, what I've been writing about with much alacrity is how life for the American expat in Mexico basically falls into two classifications.
First, there are the Expats who actually live in the trenches. We live in Mexican neighborhoods and that's because we bothered to try to become bilingual. We actually go where Mexicans go, live where they live, eat where and how they eat, and we talk to Mexicans offering them the utmost respect by the fact we learned (are learning) their language and can learn the who, what, when, where, and how of Mexican life.
The second classification of Americans is the Fakepats. They will tell everyone they are expatriates when the truth is they only live in the Gringolandias (a gringo enclave—gated community) apart and separate from the life and culture of the country they've invaded. While everyone else on the planet understands that if you profess to want to know the local culture, it only makes sense for you to live in the local culture but this seems to go over the heads of the Gringolandians!
An excellent way of thinking about this bizarre and inexplicable thing called Gringolandia and her inhabitants is to think of a theatrical stage. (I actually got this analogy from someone else).
Theatrical stages show make-believe life. They have fake storefronts, homes, props, and backdrops to create the impression of a different and fake reality on the stage. Life that takes place on the stage is a fake and scripted mockery of reality. Its purpose is to entertain those watching. And yet, the actors in the play act as though what they are doing is very, very real. To hell with reality, they say, we are live on stage. What we are doing is real.
Offstage and outside the walls of the theater is where life is really taking place. This is where you find the true-life dramas taking place in the lives of those who do not live onstage and who follow the scripted fakery. It is beyond the four walls of the theater where you will discover a world you didn't know existed. It is beyond the walls where you discover a darker side of the culture you moved into because of your profession that you love Mexico.
Because you won't (can't) leave the theatrical stage where you are told what to say in the script, your profession of a love for the culture is vain and empty.
The ticket off the stage, stopping that scripted existence, will be the language—the portal to the culture.
The beginning step to earning the Mexicans' respect? Learn their language.
But, alas, "to hell with reality" is far too easy for most.
On that scripted stage of fakery and make-believe most will stay.
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Travel Part B