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Palely loitering

8 May 2012

Canadian Garry Ledouce recently relocated to Mexico after living in Switzerland.  He blogs at Mexico Observer .  This originally appeared in MexConnect “General Living forum”, and reprinted (with a few minor editorial changes) with Don Garry’s kind permission:

… I am a North American Indian. I get a few stares, but only because people think that I am a rather large size Mexican. I can wander for days and no one looks at me. I can spotch down on the street in a doorway and people walk around my feet without looking at me. Like Kermit said… its nice to be brown.

In Canada and in Europe it is different. In Canada I get looked at suspiciously and if I am in the west, say Saskatoon or northern Ontario, people look at me with disgust often. I get followed by security in department stores and policemen glare at me.

In Europe, i get looks of puzzlement. There is something familiar about me but people don’t get it … People smile sometimes and say, “Hey you are an Indian eh?”, or “Is it not terrible what people are doing to the wolves?”,. and that sort of stuff.

In Mexico, i just get ignored and I love it.

I see gringos a lot. wandering and palely loitering. Always in some conspiracy on a corner or darting furtively from here to there. These folks stand out. Shorts. baseball hats, red skin and the women in Mexican artisanal clothing that a Mexican would not be caught dead in except for feast days where it is a costume. And the shoes:  Mexican have beautiful shoes. It seems that most have a shoe fetish for example. And everything is fashion and it is a delight.

I dress more Mexican. Long pants. pressed, golf shirt, no hat usually and a thousand yard stare. I wear good solid shoes with socks.

Dressing any other way is an insult to your neighbours. I usually give money to the beggars, certainly the old ones who need it. They really dont have pension. To the kids i say like the mexicans do, “Go to school” or “Get a job”.  The usual stuff.

I always call ladies, regardless of their age, “señorita”; the boys who serve me, “joven.”; and I always refer to the elders who have stores or do expert work as either “maestro” (a carpenter etc.) or “Don”. with the persons first name —  Don José or Don Miguel. It is only polite to do this. I have some even now calling me “Don Garry” — my hair is greying more each day.

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