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Living in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende

Living in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende

Page: 1/3
by Doug Bower

Americans living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico either do not understand, do not want to understand, or are in simple denial regarding the effect they've had on this Central Mexican Colonial Town. I find their constant shock and surprise at the observations made by the rest of the world about the effect they have on the city too incredible to believe. They walk around with blinders on, do not want to see it, or do not want to admit it.

My wife and I were in San Miguel this weekend for a craft fair. We witnessed three screaming incidents in which Americans screeched like raging wolves, in English of course, at local Mexican artisans trying to sell their wares. After witnessing these events, I spoke in Spanish with each victim of this American expat cordiality and asked each person what he or she thought.

Without exception, these were people from an area of Mexico where currently, because of some political unrest, they are unable to sell their crafts. These vendors were in San Miguel de Allende for the first time in their lives. They were not only unable to speak English, but were in virtual shock at these American expats who acted like a troop of baboons.

The overwhelming presence of Americans (and there at least 10,000-12,000 living there) in San Miguel de Allende is not what shocked them. It was rather the arrogant condescension with which these rich, country club, we-are-better-than-you-because-of-our-money Americans treated them. They yelled, made sharp, pointing gestures in the vendors' faces, and all but frothed at the mouth like mad dogs. It did not take long after our arrival to see the behavior we have grown accustomed to in the San Miguel de Allende American expat community.

It was everywhere! I've written multiple articles about this atrocity. I have also mentioned it in two of my books. I've been trying to draw the world's attention to this since we moved here over three years ago. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, I cannot explain why no one seems to notice or care. And yet, there they were, the San Miguelian Expats, abusing the vendors as though the vendors were dogs to be swatted on the head with rolled-up newspapers.

I can barely stand it. The very thing about which Americans complain - immigrants to America not learning the language and assimilating into American life - Americans who move to Mexico, by and large, DO THE VERY SAME THING!

San Miguel de Allende is a case in point. Americans have invaded this small, historically significant Colonial Mexican town and refused to do the hard work of learning the language so they can assimilate into the culture. That which they expect of Mexicans coming to America to live, they do not expect of themselves.

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