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Watch your language!

31 May 2010

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado (her website is here), writes in Yucatan Living on the basic courtesies (and lack thereof) of life in her corner of Latin America. Had I published this, I might — respectfully — have suggested the following editorial change :
For traditional Yucatecans Latin Americans, it is so important to not publicly offend, criticize, or be scornful of another person’s choices or lifestyle.

I was at a party once and there was a group of foreign men loudly discussing the merits of the local supermarket…

Why don’t ‘they’ have a properly equipped hardware section?” one fellow asked the others.

I know what you mean, I was looking for 1¼ inch screws the other day, and do you think I could find them?” answered his buddy.

They continued to criticize the way the store was stocked, how poorly it was run, and then went on to complain how “hardly anyone speaks English”. My Yucatecan husband was not amused, and when we got into the car, he exploded,

Who do those guys think they are? To start with most people who shop at that store don’t ever have need for 1¼ inch screws; they have workmen who buy them… at a hardware store! Secondly, we are on the metric system here, and thirdly, we speak Spanish in “this” country!

Please be so kind as to read the entire article, and take it to heart before you  … er… screw up in your daily interactions anywhere south of I-10.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patty permalink
    31 May 2010 7:10 pm

    The comments on that article from the Yucatán blog make it sound like she just spouted the most unusual and brilliant idea that ever entered the mind of man. It’s obvious to me and everyone I know here in Mexico.

  2. 1 June 2010 12:09 am

    You must move in more enlightened circles than most, Patty 🙂

    I’m still surprised at people who’ve lived here for umteen years and are clueless on the basic courtesies, or who justify to themselves NOT adhering to the customs of the country.

  3. 1 June 2010 11:40 am

    Hi Patty,

    How fortunate you are not to have seen some of what I’ve seen (and heard… and read) in the 34 years I’ve lived in Mexico. But to be fair, I believe much of the inappropriate behaviour is the result of unfamiliarity with the culture, language and the history.

    People from other nations who settle in western countries also commit faux pas without meaning to. That’s the great thing about traveling and living in multiple places – we learn so much (and realise how much we have yet to learn…)


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