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Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through Mexico

12 May 2007

This isn’t meant to apply to just Canadians. Gringos are apt to behave in the same way, though a lot of us (U.S. us’s) are in Mexico visiting relatives or acquaintances. Proportionately, more Canadians are package tourists and “springbreaker” tourists than we are, but a drunk is a drunk is a drunk.

Sami”, in a comment on my post about the latest Canadian death, and the coverage in that country’s media , made a good point:

In Mexico, being drunk in public is a big no no, something that will get locals and foreigners into trouble. I see so many tourists coming for cheap drinks and hookups… wandering around obnoxiously and throwing up in the bushes. The way a lot of tourists act in Mexico is not how they would conduct themselves in Canada.

A Canadian commentator on the Thorn Tree Message Board writes:

I also think it’s a miracle more Canadians don’t get seriously injured or killed in Mexico. The common denominator in a lot of these incidents is booze. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say they were going to Mexico, and the first thing they intend to do is get drunk. We as Canadians don’t seem to regard any other tourist destination this way. Mexico means cheap booze and no rules to many of us, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Sadly, a lot of the resorts seem to promote this behaviour. A while back, my wife and I were on a beach in Mazatlan, and were next to a large group of young people from Calgary. It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and they were just so terribly drunk. They were rude, obnoxious, guzzling tequila on a public beach and directing racial slurs toward the vendors selling things on the beach. They could not walk a straight line, but were swimming at a place with a fairly strong undertow. Several had sunburns that probably would require medical attention. I was embarrassed by their behaviour, hopefully they stayed close to their hotel, and didn’t inflict themselves on the rest of the city. Most places in the world acting this way in public would have unwelcome consequences, so why do so many Canadians think they can get away with it in Mexico?

Todd Babiak of the Edmonton (Alberta) Journal writes:

Talk to Mexicans about Canadians and you’ll hear two stories. They love Canadians. Thank you, friends, for coming to our country! Talk a little longer and you’ll hear the second story, and it isn’t pleasant. Canadians, who like to think of themselves as a mild and friendly people, do not enjoy an enviable reputation in these tourist towns. We’re famous for drinking to excess, for patronizing and insulting Mexicans, for treating their country like the site of a giant frat party.

Indeed, certain parts of Mexico have an extraordinarily high crime rate. In the past seven years, there have been 172 reports of violence against Canadians in the country. But 172 out of seven million isn’t a particularly high number, considering the way many of us act in Mexico. If we were to parade drunkenly up and down Whyte Avenue in Edmonton or 17th Avenue in Calgary, drinks in hand, shouting at women, we would be inviting violence. It’s no different in Acapulco or Cancun.

I’ve hinted at the Mexican distaste for drunks before. Of course Mexican get drunk and act like assholes like anybody else, but they do it in their own country, behind closed doors (even in towns where shop doors are always open, cantinas have louvered “saloon doors” — and usually a wall before you get to the barroom — so the public is spared the sight of what goes on in there.

I was talking about “race” and class, but I once saw a drunk called every filthy name in the book for … well… acting like a drunk (he pooped his pants). What made the occasion remarkable among the many times I’ve seen drunks berated in public in Mexico was that he was “güero” and that among the insults used by the very “Aztec-nosed” brown Mexicans, the called the guy a “dirty Indian”. Otherwise, the sight of ordinary Mexicans expressing open contempt for a drunk wouldn’t have been anything I would have noticed. It’s the way things are.

Also, along the lines of “race” and class… I’ve noticed that the white foreigners (I’ve never heard this from persons of color) sometimes say the “Mexicans hate us.” However, when I think about it, the folks who say this are the ones who spend an inordinate amount of time in those off-the-street cantinas.

Or bars that cater to foreigners and the well-heeled. Though I don’t drink, I’ve been in my share of clubs. Fresas and nacos both get shit-faced, of course, but are usually with a bunch of friends that pull them out before they get kicked out. And, they know better than to hit on someone else’s significant other. They know the rules. The foreigners don’t. OK, in the tourist bars, Mexicans act like tourists, but the folks who go to the resorts in places like Cancún or Acapulco are either Fresas (and dickheads by definition), or playing big-shot for a couple of days, and again, probably with friends who know the social rules and will keep them out of trouble. IF they do get into trouble, no body is going to claim it was some elaborate plot, anyway.

Back in 2004, I’d written that William S. Burroughs thought he was seducing Mexican cops with liquor and drugs (and sex), when the reality was that back in those days, only a junkie or drunkie would take a job that made a person a social pariah in the 1940s.

I’d warned people in my little Mexico City guidebook too:

…public drunkenness is not much tolerated outside of tourist areas like the Zona Rosa. I have seen drunks publicly berated and nearly attacked outside of these areas.

And did I mention Pancho Villa, who was a teetotaller, had drunks in his army shot as cowards and traitors? Plutarco Elias Calles — when he was Revolutionary Governor of Sonora — dealt with public intox by putting drunks in front of the firing squad. But, then Plutarco was the son of an alcoholic and I’m told children of alcoholics can be pretty hard-core.

Sorry, folks… but the Hollywood image of the drunken happy Mexican is just in the movies.

The Mex Files is skinny, sober and… we hope… kinda on the ball. But being broke is no way to go though life…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 August 2007 7:06 pm

    Excellent suggestions in this post. People from the north who visit us here in Mexico need to realize that Mexicans are very proud of their country and do not tolerate outsiders who act like idiots.

  2. 20 March 2008 11:42 am

    We do hate stupid tacky fat americans-canadians…… feel free to do the same with Mexicans in your countries if they act like those people prevoiuosly mentioned before …… hahaha

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