An American Living in Mexico – 5 Biggest Differences

mexican guy with beatles shirt

mexican guy with beatles shirt

Although I don’t wear my ethnicity on my sleeve, I’m really proud of my cultural background. Being Latino is a lot of fun. The food is great and we get to claim Danny Trejo as part of our team.

machete kills

If Machete were Asian, I’d probably switch sides.

But just because my skin is brown and I speak Spanish doesn’t mean my preferences align with all the typical emblems of Latinoism. There are some things we’re expected to like that I simply can’t stand. These are the five things I hate that Latinos love:

Dancing

Why is it that people from south-of-the-border are expected to have better rhythm than anyone else? Yeah, Latin music is generally pretty rhythmic, but it’s not like your last name being Sanchez automatically imbues you with insane dancing skills. Maybe there’s a genetic factor that helps certain people move their bodies to music better than others, but it isn’t limited to race. There are people who can and can’t dance in every ethnicity and culture.

Plus, why is not being good at dancing, or not wanting to dance, a cause for shame? I guess it has something to do with perceived capacity to pursue members of the opposite sex. Women dance because they actually enjoy it and because they it’s hot when they do it. Men dance because it’s a way to break the ice with an attractive woman you don’t know and want to impress.

The great thing about our society is that there are innumerable ways to meet people compatible with you, so you don’t have to rely on the dance scene to meet a guy or girl. Plus, for guys, whatever momentary impression you may make on a girl for being a good dancer will quickly dissipate if you don’t have any substantial to back it up. Yeah, you can shake your behind until your sexual orientation is in question, but that won’t get you far if you have no job and no plans for the future. It’s a good thing women find living on food stamps so sexy.

I join my voice to that of Phil Collins in declaring I can’t dance–and I’m proud of it!

Bachata

While we’re on the subject of dancing, I had to go with this related pet peeve of mine. Back in my adolescence, when I was obliged to attend dances as part of my church’s youth activities, the DJs would always include a healthy dose of Latin songs to appease the large number of Hispanic kids in the crowd. Without fail, most of those songs would belong to the horrid genre known as “Bachata.”

If you’re not familiar with this style of “music,” here’s an example of a popular song that’s been on the airwaves a lot as of late.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I had posted any other Bachata song–they all sound exactly the same. Seriously, they recycle the same guitar riff again and again, and they feature the same percussion line on the tabla (I feel sorry for the instrument, which actually is put to good use in eastern music). The worst part is that all Bachata singers have the same whiny voice, like they’re freshly castrated and are just coming to terms with their newly ambiguous sexual identity.

I don’t feel sorry for saying that I hate “Bachata.” Whenever I inadvertently hear a Bachata song (the only way I would ever listen to it), I have to listen to real music to purify my ear drums.

Tortillas

tortilla pic

I loathe you.

Look at it. Rough and jagged like an iguana’s skin. Utterly bereft of flavor (unless you count the taste of construction paper). And yet all across Mexico, thousands, nay, millions of small-time tortilla factories churn out batch after batch of the atrocious product, contributing to a nation-wide addiction that feeds the county’s obesity problems.

Alright, I’m exaggerating. I don’t truly hate tortillas. They’re actually the basis of a number of foods I love, like flautas, tacos, and burritos. As-a-matter-of-fact, most of Mexico’s signature dishes are corn based, from tamales to sopes, gorditas, and beyond. Even soups like pozole and menudo include puffed corn in the form of hominy. This isn’t surprising considering corn has always been a staple in the region.

So I’m not trying to put down Mexican cuisine in any way. On the contrary, I think all the creative uses of corn is part of what makes the food special. What I’m against is the obsession that a lot of people have with tortillas. As someone who’s lived in Mexico for nearly four years, I’ve witnesses first-hand how bad it can be.

A lot of people eat corn tortillas with every meal. This is understandable in some cases. After all, when you’re making forty dollars a week, you’ll be happy to complement your meal with any cheap carbs. A kilo of corn tortillas for 10 pesos (less than a buck) is a good deal.

But then you have the people who can vary their diet but won’t. These are the people who eat rice with tortillas. Who eat spaghetti with tortillas. Who don’t eat their soup with a spoon, but by slowly soaking it up into rolled-up corn tortillas (a very slow process when you consider that corn tortillas are nearly impermeable).

My daughter is a major culprit. She won’t “eat” her eggs unless she has a tortilla to roll into a scroll. She repeatedly dips the rolled corn tortilla into the yoke of the egg until she’s finished it. The tortilla, that is. She leaves the picked-apart egg on the plate, which I finish to avoid waste.

Corn tortillas will be the death of us all.

Telenovelas

Basically Spanish soap operas. Everything wrong with soap operas is what’s wrong with telenovelas–bad acting, melodrama, rehashed plots and characters. Maybe the biggest bone I have to pick with them is just how ugly they look. Seemingly no attention whatsoever is paid to the cinematography.

If you’ve only ever grown up on this lousy excuse for television, you probably won’t even notice. But once you’ve been exposed to such beautifully filmed shows as Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the quality of what you find on Telemundo is enough to want to make you take the Oedipus route (tearing your eyes out, not getting too cozy with your mother).

Obviously, bad TV will always exist. What gets me so incensed about the telenovelas is that they’ve taken over Latin television. When these channels aren’t airing lame variety shows and faux news, they’re scrambling the public’s brains with this drivel. Where’s the diversity? Give me some sci-fi. Some mystery. Some horror. Historical drama. Nope, none of that. Watch the same story about a bunch of people cheating on each other until someone ends up in the hospital.

Drunken Parties

Ever since I was a kid, I remember going to children’s birthday parties and seeing multiple coolers full of booze set right next to the birthday cake and presents. Hispanic families have a knack for turning any occasion, like baby showers and baptisms, into excuses for turning the music up full blast and getting mindlessly drunk.

drunk hispanic

My brother looking extremely Hispanic.

I attended tons of these kinds of parties as a child, but they all pretty much meld into one in my mind. The exact same songs were played every time. It’s as though there’s a standard CD that people Latinos religiously pop into the radio every time there’s a get-together.

Also, there was always a bounce house. And it was inevitable that the bounce house was going to collapse at some point (usually right before the piñata).

Good times, good times.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Luis Miguel
Writer, dad,prog-rock lover. Join me on my quest to make the internet a funnier place.

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