When I got back from Mexico, I was feeling blue for the first 2 weeks. It wasn’t the lack of sun, because New York has a wonderful summer. It wasn’t adjusting back to the horrendous prices in America, because I can get used to that fairly quickly. No, it was an awareness of social differences and feeling lost when approaching American people and dealing with social situations. Latin warmth is something found in Spanish-speaking cultures. It’s what I’ve been missing ever since I came back to New York .
When in Mexico, the most impressive thing I discovered (aside from the food) was the great way I was welcomed by my friends and their families. To take in an almost complete stranger for the duration of 2 weeks takes a lot of hospitality. And tolerance. While I had met my friends for one night in Heidelberg four years ago (those good old student days), I hadn’t seen them ever since and only stayed in touch via social networking sites. How great was my surprise when being offered a home for 14 days, after such a long period had passed.
I was impressed by how nonchalant my friends took time out of their busy schedules and showed me around almost every day. While one was working, the other one was a student pursuing her degree, and both had busy schedules to keep. But did this come through even once during my stay abroad? Not in the least!
From day one, I felt invited, welcomed, and like part of their families. The endless invitations did not only come from them. Their friends suggested several good events (such as Las Luchas), in which they happily participated in. Parties thrown at their houses, spontaneous elote- and quesadilla-sessions, driving on top of a mountain to get a breathtaking view from the city – it was all too good to be true. And yet, it is a crucial component of the Latin culture, or rather, the Mexican culture – to be as warm and welcoming to guests as you can (even when they are practically strangers).
After leaving the rude and sometimes mean individuals of New York, Guadalajara showed me a different type of people. I’d somehow forgotten how to say “please” and “thank you”. But in the Mexican culture it is very important to keep repeating those two phrases until the conversational partner is satisfied. After one week I had gotten used to the “por favor” and “gracias” expression. To such an extent that my friend jokingly told me: “But don’t say it TOO often, otherwise the people will think you’re a Chino (Chinese)!”
Latin warmth – dealing with personas who are friendly, open, and welcoming most of the time – displays how happy Mexican people are. In fact, this article illustrates the disparity between Mexico being one of the poorer nations but also one of the most satisfied (judging by its people). It confirms what I saw throughout the streets: Happy, smiling persons, chatting with each other and not being too bothered by life’s circumstances (the inequality, the long working hours, the great gap between rich and poor). 80 percent of the country’s population practically earns nothing and yet they are not bitter, sour, or mad. They are quite the opposite. How can this be? You see rich European countries who are less satisfied than this industrial land. Mentality and culture play a role in these two circumstances.
Giving so much when you have so little – a mentality I wish I’d see more in Westernized nations.
This is why my heard was broken for a long time after returning from my trip. Because I left a warm country like this and committed to the coldness of New York.