How to tell if you're Mexican
by Acoyani Garrido Sandoval
Time for another of our culture tests from around the world. The author is a student at the Instituto de Ciencias in Guadalajara-- "the city of mariachi, tequila, and the charro outfit." The test focusses on urban rather than rural Mexican culture.
If you're Mexican...
The country of tomorrow, and why we stay that way
- You trust deep down in the Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico City and perhaps of all Mexico.
- You're familiar with Joaquín López Dóriga, José Ramón Fernández, Javier Alatorre, Adal Ramones, Mirada de Mujer, Otro Rollo, La Academia, Big Brother, Operación Triunfo, Toma Libre, The Simpsons, Pokémon, Pikachu (if you're a small child)...
- You know by heart how soccer (fútbol in Mexico) is played. If you're a man, you often have deep knowledge of soccer; if you're woman, you don't know anything about it. People who care about American football (fútbol americano), basketball or baseball are somewhat rare, but exist!
- You have lots of vacations: Semana Santa vacations (the Easter Week plus the week before), Christmas vacations (2 1/2 weeks) and summer vacations (1 1/2 month).
- You spend your Semana Santa vacations at the beach, your Christmas vacations with your family, and your summer vacations anywhere.
- You're extremely likely to believe in God; if you don't, most often you're Jewish.
- Only northerners and a few others believe in Santa Claus; you most often believe in the Niñito Dios y los Santos Reyes (the Child God and the Holy Magi).
- You think of McDonald's, KFC, Burger King... as cheap, social food.
- You probably have a phone, often a cell phone, cable/satellite TV and computer w/Internet and dial-up connection. Your place is never heated in the rather temperate winter, is cooled in the hot springtime and has its own bathroom (unless you're indeed poor). You most often do your laundry in a machine. You don't kill your food. You probably don't have a dirt floor. You eat at a table, sitting on chairs.
- You think of some bugs, monkeys and lizards but not cats, dogs or guinea pigs as food.
- A bathroom most often doesn't have a bathtub in it but it does have a toilet. Most have a shower instead of bathtub. The rich ones have at least a jacuzzi.
- It seems natural for you that power and water are government-run. Phone, mass transit, hospitals and others are, however, partially government-run, partially private.
- You expect, obviously, that phones will work. Getting a new phone is routine.
- The train system is just for cargo. The only passenger train is the Chihuahua-Pacífico train, and it doesn't goes any faster than cars. Most prefer the car or the plane.
Remember the Faja de Oro!
- There are LOTS of parties in the government, but you most often vote for just three: the PAN, the PRI and the PRD. You think of politicians as very lazy people who create disagreement in the Chamber and corruption in the government, and thus leave Mexico as it is right now.
- Your president. Vicente Fox Quesada, does everything possible to keep his popularity; saying, for example, that a huge budget cut is just an "austerity year".
- You don't hear socialism seriously defended. If you're an university student, though, you probably know people who speak well of communism. But because we're just south of the USA, it'll never go anywhere.
- Between Indians and whites are the mestizos or mixed-race people, who make up about 60% of Mexico's population.
- You think most problems could be solved if people stop sleeping in their beds and start working.
- Your impossible dream is to have a court system like the USA's. It's indeed rare for you to take someone to the court because you had problems with that person.
- You respect someone who talks a foreign language other than English. It's rare to find a French or Japanese language school since about 75-90% of language schools only teach English. You should know that language, even though Spanish is the world's third most spoken language.
- It's not necessary to learn languages other than English. You can make it through all Mexico and even most of Central and South America using nothing but Spanish. However, you need English and other languages for most other foreign countries.
- You think a tax rate of 18% is scandalously high.
- School is free from elementary school (primaria in Mexico) to middle school (secundaria). Kindergarten (preescolar, kinder or jardín de niños) is sometimes free, but high school (preparatoria) and university are only free if you get a scholarship.
- School grades are kindergarten 1st to 3rd, elementary 1st to 6th, middle 1st to 3rd. High school comes in half years 1st to 6th. Some high schools (like mine) have a yearly (not half-year) calendar.
- University is most often 5 years long.
- Mustard comes in jars or squeezable bottles. Shaving cream comes in cans. Milk comes in plastic jugs or Tetra-Brik packs, and occasionally in bags.
Coming soon from Playstation: Avoid the Homicidal Bus
- The date comes first: 5/12/94. (And you know what happened on that day.)
- The decimal point is a period. Certainly not a comma.
- A billion is a million times a million.
- World War II was just another war in which Mexico didn't helped much, but at least we had the Escuadrón 301 who came out after the Germans sunk 2 Mexican tankers, one of which was the Faja de Oro.
- You expect marriages to be made for love, and not arranged by third parties. Though you must get married by a judge, you always have a wedding in church. You always have a best man and matron of honor, but you know them as compadre and comadre. Of course, you just get one wife at a time.
- A man who has sex with another man is homosexual.
- Once you're introduced to someone, you first call them by their university title (licenciado, doctor, ingeniero, arquitecto...), and when your relationship is deeper, you call them by their first name.
- If you're at high school you often call people by their last names or by their nicknames.
- If you're a woman, you never go to the beach topless.
- A hotel room has a private bath.
- You prefer watching a captioned movie instead of a dubbed one, since most films you see are American and the dubbing is often awful-- or sometimes because you prefer to listen to Pierce Brosnan's true voice and not someone else's.
- It's impossible to transact business, or deal with the government, unless you bribe the people.
- If a politician cheats on his wife, his ability to govern is questioned.
- Credit cards are most often accepted in supermarkets.
- Companies can fire anybody as long as they have a good reason, such as to reduce expenses.
You could give us back New Mexico, at least
- You're very careful with bus drivers. They're famous for their rough, totally reckless driving that causes an average of 80-92 people splatted by a bus every year.
- You always like your bacon crisp.
- Labor Day is in May 1st.
- If under 25, you've probably seen El crimen del padre Amaro, Sexo, pudor y lágrimas, Jackass The Movie, Resident Evil, Titanic, Jurassic Park, The Phantom Menace, The Attack of the Clones, The Fifth Element, Goldeneye 007...
- If you have videogames, you probably own a Sony Playstation2 or a Nintendo Gamecube. The Xbox was introduced in Mexico in November 2002 and thus it's not very popular. Sega Dreamcast, don't even bother. PC games are rather popular, especially FPS like Half-Life Counter-Strike and do-what-you-want games like Grand Theft Auto 3.
- You know the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, El Tri, Bob Dylan, Kiss, Elvis, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees... If under 25, you know Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Eminem, Blink182, Paul van Dyk, Infected Mushroom, Chemical Brothers, Apollo 440, Daft Punk, Banda El Recodo, Los Temerarios, Banda Machos, Banda Pequeños, Los Tigres del Norte, Los Rabanes, the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Westlife, Uff, Boom, Crush, LA Teens (one of which used to go to my school just a grade above me)...
- If you're a man, you don't like the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync and Westlife, and HATE 100% commercial boy bands such as Uff, Boom, Crush... Sometimes you think of Banda El Recodo, Los Temerarios, Banda Machos and other groups as lower-class music. If you're a woman, however, you LOVE those bands just because their members are cute.
- You count with a good medical treatment, but sometimes it's really awful, especially on public clinics such as IMSS or ISSSTE hospitals. You know it's extremely rare for you to die of cholera or other Third World diseases. You expect instead to die of heat disease, stroke, cancer or accident. You expect a decent attention to your babies' diseases. You think dying at age 60 is a tragedy.
- You need a damn ID card to get medical attention from the IMSS, lest they send you to the overcrowded Hospital General.
US Xmas + Traditional Xmas = Modern Xmas
- You went over Mexican history in school, and some US and world history. You can name the year when the USA took more than half of our land from us, and you resent Americans for that.
- You don't expect the military to engage on wars. Instead, you expect the military to eradicate drug crops, labs and dealing zones.
- Your country was almost conquered by the US.
- You're used to a wide variety of choices for almost all what you buy.
- You measure things in meters, grams, kilograms and liters, but while following recipes you measure things in fingers, cups, glasses, handfuls and trickles.
- You're probably not a farmer.
- Comics come in two varieties: newspaper comics and magazines. The latter are mostly about superheroes. Sometimes you see manga in newspaper and magazine shops.
- People who appear on the most popular talk shows are mostly entertainers and strange people. There are talk shows, however, in which people argue (and sometimes almost fight) about issues like "My daughter's husband hits her but she says he's the only one who loves her", "My husband is a gigolo" or "My parents don't let me go to school because I have to work".
- You drive on the right side of the road. You always stop at red lights, even if there's nobody around. However, some people, especially students, truckers, cab drivers and bus drivers run past many red lights even with people and pedestrians near the crossing. Thus, you always proceed with caution, and don't cross at all if you see a bus.
- You think of the Volkswagen Beetle as a small car better suited for singles.
- The police is armed with shotguns, Magnums and sometimes submachineguns.
- If a woman is plumper than average it doesn't improve her looks.
- There are parts of the city you definitely want to avoid at night.
- You feel that your kind of people aren't being listened to enough by your Mayor.
- You wouldn't expect both inflation and unemployment to be very high (over 15%) at the same time.
- You don't care much about what family someone comes from.
- You think of opera and ballet as elite entertainment. It's most likely that you don't see many plays.
Space and time
- Christmas is in winter. Unless you're Jewish, you spend it with your family, give presents, eat turkey for dinner, and put up a tree. Since Chrismas used to be a no-meat day (à la Lent), sometimes you eat cod, romeritos (egg tarts with a rosemary sauce and shrimp) and other kinds of fish and seafood.
- You think the church is not too powerful, but has enough power on the masses to have some influence on politics.
- You'd be hard pressed to name the capitals or leaders of all Europe.
- You're NOT familiar with Lucky Luke, Corto Maltese, Milo Manara, Guido Crepax, Gotlib, Mœbius or Asterix, but somewhat familiar with Mafalda.
- It's not very common to have a pager.
- Cabs are operated by locals, who have deep knowledge of the city's streets.
- There are no unemployment payments, only pensions for retired elderly people. Thus, if you can't find a job, you must live in the street, homeless.
- Doctors most often have their bachelor's, but there are some doctors with fake diplomas.
- There are lots of lawyers.
- Appointments have often a 5-minute tolerance. You mutter an excuse if you come 10 minutes late, and apologize profusely if it's 25 minutes. 1-hour delays are almost inexcusable.
- If talking with someone, you feel uncomfortable if they approach closer than 2 inches-- unless it's your boy/girlfriend.
- About the only things you need to bargain for are cars, houses and antiques. Haggling is common and often gives very good results.
- When you negotiate, you are, of course, polite. Some foreigners, however, put excessive attention to their status.