Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Americans dreaming of a better life in Mexico. Why other ethnicities can not have a better life in U.S.?.
By Steve Smith.

We went to the nearby city of Queretaro yesterday and stayed overnight. Last night we wandered around the downtown area. We saw a few other couples who appeared to be Americans.

We'd had a big Mexican lunch in mid-afternoon, but wanted a little something. It was a lovely evening, shirtsleeve weather. We eventually chose an outdoor cafe in a little plaza. As we walked to a table, we passed a couple who looked American and exchanged friendly nods. When Kelly took a photo of the Sopa Azteca I had ordered, the man came over and offered in English to take a photo of both of us.

We chatted a little and ended up inviting them to join us at our table. We all had a lively conversation for a couple of hours.

They gave me permission to use their names in my blog but I'll just use their initials, B&B, here, as I didn't really give them fair warning how fully I might quote them!

They are in Mexico on a relatively short trip. They flew into Guadalajara and rented a car, and have gone to several small and medium-sized cities. This is not a vacation as such. It is an adventure, a search for a place they might like to live.

"Why?" I asked innocently, knowing full well what a loaded question that was.

They are very concerned about with how things are going in the United States. They don't like the President, they don't like the evidence that the voting machines were rigged, they don't like the war, and they think the economy is in trouble.

There's a recent blog entry of mine that quotes another friend of ours who speaks of the same concerns, with some of my own reflections on them. I hesitated to blog about these matters so soon again, but it was so interesting to talk in depth with B&B that I want to go on more.

They are not yet decided whether to stay in the US and "fight the good fight" or whether to leave. I suggested that being unhappy with things at home was not reason enough by itself to move to Mexico, and it came out that they have been here before and loved the country. Their Spanish is extremely minimal but they are studying with the Pimsleur method for Spanish.

I got into playing Devil's Advocate in part. One of their main concerns was that the American economy may take a major nosedive. I pointed out that Mexico is inextricably interwoven with the US and that if things are bad up north, they will be bad here too. They said that American influence is everywhere. While I agree, I do think that Mexico is more deeply connected with the US than most places.

We swapped stories. The idea of living in a town with just a handful of foreigners, as we are doing, did not appeal to them, and I think that's appropriate with their minimal Spanish. We all agreed that Guanajuto is a special place, and compared notes of our experiences there.

"What did you think of San Miguel de Allende?" I asked, since many foreigners with little Spanish live there.

Neither of them had liked it. They are friendly and outgoing people, and various Americans had been cold or rude to them. When the woman had said hi to some American college students, one of the students had complained, "Is it so obvious that I'm American?"

Around ten in the evening, we strolled a couple of blocks to an Italian ice cream place Kelly and I had noticed earlier. I was surprised to notice that perhaps two dozen homeless people were bedding down for the night, mostly on pieces of cardboard and with blankets. One of the men said in English, "Hi, how are you?" to us. I noticed several elderly ladies, and one of them was crocheting by the light coming from a store window display. I once again felt grateful -- as I have many times -- that I am one of the privileged of this world.

After we parted from B&B, Kelly commented that we haven't had this kind of conversation about the US that many times on this trip. Actually, we've talked with surprisingly few Americans. We've seen more Canadians and Germans in the off-the-beaten-path places we favor.

But we know that this kind of conversation, this deep concern for the well-being of the United States and often fear for the future, is going on all over the United States and abroad. We imagine that quite a few Americans are roaming Mexico and other places just as B&B are, dreaming of a better life.

There is a certain irony in this, since so many of our ancestors came to the United States for exactly the same reason. A better life. It's also a part of our national character that I appreciate, our willingness to try something new.

As for B&B, they will soon go home, most likely put their house on the market this year whether they are leaving the US or not?

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