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Letters to the Editor - December 6, 2013

Dear Sir,

My regular friend at the gym, a Canadian, once confessed that he didn’t like to feel “exploited” by Mexicans who spot him as a gringo and charge him accordingly a higher price for whatever he’s negotiating at that time.

As an Americanized Australian after five years Lakeside, I know the feeling. But I have a different perspective.

“Exploitation” can be in the eye of the beholder. Local real estate prices expressed in USD (almost 100% of the time) may be seen as one perspective on “exploitation.” Gringos buy Mexican property at Scottsdale prices.

Here is another.

Today I wanted to buy firewood in my pueblo. Although my 2003 Ford Expedition bore Jalisco plates, I was spotted as a gringo.

The vendor’s family stood around anxiously as their hombre responded to my Spanish question, “Cuanta cuesta?” with the pure English words, “Three hundred.” None of the prior conversation had been in English.

As I handed over the dinero, the suspenseful silence was broken by stifled giggles in the family circle. Everybody was more than happy.

I wondered as I drove away: Why the mirth, or was it joy?

I speculated that perhaps they were chalking up a victory over the gringo. The wood they had gotten on the mountain for me was free to them. Their labor and time in cutting and fetching it on a burro was next-to-worthless. They asked a price no Mexican could afford, and that dumb, stupid gringo paid it without question.

Later, when I discussed with friends what I was paying my strenuously diligent Mexican house maid for daily service, the difference between that and downtown Ajijic norms for the same became most pronounced. My gringo companions made me feel like an exploiter.

There are two gringo communities here in Lakeside. One lives in close-quartered anglo communities, often with guarded gates, and the other lives in “dangerous” unguarded communities close to their Mexican neighbors.

The former need high prices for their sense of security from actual predators, and the others do not.

Jim Dickinson, Tlachichilco



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