I’m a bit of a curmudgeon to say the least, and in a particularly curmudgeonly mood. Recently, unfortunately, I have come across ugly Americans here in our area. I really don’t want a bunch of Americans coming down here to Veracruz unless they are coming because they know the area already or are very open to living in a different culture, they know Spanish or live with someone who does, they appreciate the area for what it is and won’t be grumbling all the time about what it is not. I hope people DO NOT come primarily because the weather is mild or because the prices are low or you can afford a maid.
We Americans are essentially exploiting the fact that we can come to Mexico with what in the U.S. is not a lot of money but that around here is, thanks not to any particular virtue on our part but to the marked income inequality between the two countries. And probably we worked fewer hours in easier conditions and even with all the current problems in the US had far more benefits earning the money than folks here did. So don’t come if you think you deserve your wealth (it is wealth) more than people here would deserve it if they could get it. Don't think it signifies you are somehow superior to the people here.
Don't come if you support current US immigration policy or think Mexican immigrants in the US are bearers of disease, criminals, stupid, wetbacks, or other subhuman forms of life. Don't come if you think most Mexicans are drug dealers. Don't come if you don't think they deserve a decent living.
The hardships you will find here do not exist because people are lazy or stupid or don’t know how to do things right. The hardships exist because of what people have inherited from their history, what they’ve inherited from the entrenched inequality of their society. Globalization hasn’t helped a whole lot on the level of the people in our colonia. Don’t come if you blame people for their poverty.
There are actually quite a few cultures here, but there’s a lot none of these cultures share with the US, thank God. Actually there’s a lot most of the world doesn’t share with the US. U.S. values are not all great, to say the least. We have at least as much if not more to learn from Mexicans as they do from us. Do not come if you think you can understand the mosaic of Mexican cultures or Mexicans after visiting or living here for a little while. Don't think you can analyze and dismiss them with simple minded platitudes. Don't dismiss people here as "quaint". Don’t come if you are not interested to learn about the new world you will be in. Don’t come if you just want to hang out with ex-pats and shop at Wal-Mart and Home Depot and the like.
Don’t come if you feel you must have well-paved roads. Especially in this very wet area, it is a never-ending task to maintain roads. Don’t come if you don’t think you could put up with the smell of polluted waterways. Don’t come if you consider promptness a major virtue. Don’t come if you think it’s wrong to take time off for a sick family member or a meeting at your kids’ schools. Don’t come if you are not willing to learn how to peacefully negotiate narrow, crowded sidewalks. Don’t come if you can't stand the idea that your garbage may not be picked up at the same time every week. If you're open-minded, you'll probably find you have much less garbage here and that you don't need it picked up as often as you think you do. Don’t come if you must have prompt mail delivery. Don’t come if fancy doctor's waiting rooms matter more to you than good and compassionate medical care which exists in spades. Don’t come if you insist wiring and plumbing meet your US standards. What matters is that it generally works. Don’t come if you can’t live without Bisquick.
Don’t come if it really infuriates you that you’ll run into two sets of prices at times: those for the locals, those for the ricos.
Don't come if you have a habit of thinking your way of doing things is better than the way its done here. Don’t come if you can’t understand that people don’t always think your ways are the best ways. Don’t come if you expect your version of the truth is everyone’s version of the truth and that that truth must always be told.
Don't come if it's always easier to find fault with other people else than to look closely at yourself.
Don’t come if you don’t understand that people might resent you and might try to take advantage of you and might even steal from you. Of course you know they do that in the US, too, and in fact, in many ways it's safer here.
Don’t come if you will close a whole bunch of people out because of a few bad incidents. Don’t come if you will avoid friendships with people because you’re afraid they will take advantage of you. Very few people will. Don’t come if you are prone to say about people who aren’t from your own group, “These people always (fill in the negative)” or “These people never (fill in the negative).” Don’t come if you don’t want to learn about and experience the richness of all the varieties of Mexican history, culture, art, food, and hospitalilty.
Don’t come if you're going to be shocked when you come across corruption. If you think it's worse here than in the US, you have problems.
Don’t come if you think you are doing Mexicans a favor with your presence.
Don't come if you can't grasp the idea of intuitive driving. Don't come if you suffer from road rage. Don't come if you can't tolerate traffic congestion.
Don’t come if it would anger you if a Mexican told you he was glad Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize because it is a reminder that not all Americans think like Bush and his allies.
Don’t come if you think the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. Certainly don’t say things that would indicate you do.
If you come, remember you're a guest. Learn and follow the customs and rules you find here. Don't break laws. Be soft-spoken. Don't mess in local politics. Don't insult people. Don't expect people to do things your way. Don't even expect them to accept your way. Don't think your ways are the best ways.