UGLY AMERICANS

They come to enjoy the benefits of the country, its political freedom, its economic advantages, and the chance to live the good life. Yet, they refuse to participate in the culture of its people. They make no effort to learn the language, they isolate themselves within their own communities while expecting the locals to accommodate them in the traditions of their former country. If this sounds familiar it is. Ironically this is not the typical complaint of U.S citizens railing against the attitudes of Mexican immigrants in the United States, instead it is the audacious complaint of many U.S expats towards Mexicans IN MEXICO!
Mexico has the greatest number of U.S. retirees than any other country in the world. You would think that statistic alone would engender a closer bond between the two cultures. Unfortunately, the attitude of a great many U.S transplants suggests quite the opposite.

A telling example of this attitude is evident whenever gringos complain of their inablitiy to communicate with mexicans due to language difficulties. Their ironic excuse for this inability to commuinicate is that the Mexicans do not speak English. Rarely does the U.S person say, ‘I don’t speak Spanish.’ Can you imagine the outrage in the U.S  if the roles were reversed, and it was the Mexican who complained that the U.S person didn’t speak Spanish?

Another example of condescenion is the constant comparisons made between the way things are done in the States as opposed to Mexico. This view seems to suggest that the way things are done in the States is the way things should be done in Mexico. Imagine how that view would go over if the roles were reversed in the U.S.

That being said, I acknowledge there are many U.S expatriats who do not share those condescending views. In fact, many of us who are more informed of  Mexican culture often strive to enlighten our lesser informed brethren expats to do likewise. I believe many U.S citizens who behave badly do not do so deliberately. They are merely unconscious of the fact as to just how insulting their behaviour might be taken. I don’t believe they are bad people by nature. They’ve merely been programmed by the culture of which they were nurtured. Perhaps proper care and feeding by those of us who are more sensitive to these unintentional insults would serve them well by teaching them to accept others the way they are.

Anyway, that’s my rant.

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My next blog: August 31, 2012

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also: http://www.bajareflections.com

The OTHER SIDE of CAMBODIA

Though my previous post centered exclusively on the horrors of genocide, I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge the life and culture after Pol Pot. Therefore, I will give  a short glimpse of  Cambodia as it is today, one which focuses on the history and culture of this proud nation.

SILVER PAGODA, aka TEMPLE of the EMERALD BUDDHA at the CAMBODIAN ROYAL PALACE

SILVER PAGODA

ANGKOR WAT STONE FACES

The country’s most famous attraction is ANGKOR WAT, a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. The giant heads shown above are awe-inspiring.

This Angkor Wat temple below is but one example of an ancient highly complex city;  It too  is recognized as an UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE

During the vietnam war many vietnamese civilians escaped their homeland and fled to the Tonle Sap fishing village in Cambodia where they have taken up permanent residence. The woman in the barge is herself a vietnamese refugee and has contributed much to the Cambodian culture.

Father and son wash their oxen in the Choeng Ek river; a culture common to Cambodians. There is an ironic aspect to this routine however, in that the name, Choeng Ek, is the name for both river and town, a name which would be forever rememebererd as the Killing Fields. Nonetheless, life in Cambodia  goes on.

FATHER & SON WASH OXEN

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My next blog: August 15, 2012

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also: http://www.bajareflections.com