• Dec
    7

    The Ugly American

     

    Update

    A short time ago, I found out that yet another figurehead in Bucerias, Jorge, of La Cocina de Jorge has passed away. Details are a bit sketchy but according to some people I know, he was diagnosed with an inoperable form of cancer and left Bucerias to return to his home town to die. This happened about two years ago.

    The restaurant, however, is still there, though I miss Jorge’s presence. The food is good, as always and if you want a treat, order Cafe’ de Olla from the menu.
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    This is a rather unpleasant term to describe American travelers but it could apply equally to many people from different countries. At its root, the “ugly” term is often used to describe a traveler who compares where they are to where they come from. Inevitably, where they are (in this case, Mexico) is found lacking, in one way or another.
    When I hear someone complaining like that I think: “Well, if you feel that way, why don’t you just go back home and leave the rest of us in peace?”

    What sparked my attention about “the ugly American” phrase was this article, which seems a bit extreme.

    Still, I’ve run into tourists who have made asses of themselves when I was traveling in Mexico. The most memorable example was when I was having breakfast at La Cocina de Jorge in Bucerias. There, a large man repeatedly compared Mexico to Montana and of course, Mexico came up short. Worse, the guy had a booming voice which was heard throughout the restaurant.

    Sitting close by, I was fuming. This guy seemed totally oblivious to the fact that many of the Mexican people in the restaurant, including the owner, were fluent in English.

    Finally, I’d had enough and I mentally gave the guy five minutes to stop his tirade or I was going to go over to his table and tell him to shut up. Much to my surprise, a few minutes later he got up and left, to my immense relief.

    On the flip side, I met another American man who told me repeatedly how profoundly sorry he was that nine out of ten of his American colleagues caused trouble while traveling. As an American, he said, he was embarrassed by their actions.

    The biggest challenge faced by many travelers is their inability to adapt to a new culture. Even with seasoned travelers it’s easy to fall into this mindset and become frustrated with how things are done in a new country.

    A simple solution is: TIM an acronym for “This Is Mexico.” If you remember that, many of your problems will vanish and you’ll be able to enjoy life.

    See you next time.

    © Nathan Segal 2013.

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