Friday, September 30, 2011

Living the American dream in Mexico

As deep as you may get into the heart of Mexico, hundreds of miles from the U.S. border, reminders of America follow you everywhere.

Tee shirts trumpet American products and in some cases totally inappropriate American slang.

You might see a very proper-acting middle-aged woman with "HOT MAMA!" emblazoned across her tee shirt. You wonder: Does she know what that means? I've been tempted to stop such unwitting victims and translate except the embarrassment will outweigh any benefit.

Car plates and bumper stickers also remind you of the U.S. Probably 20 percent of the cars circulating in the state of Guanajuato have expired plates from practically every state in the American union. Many of the plates are not just a little bit over the hill but ancient. Two weeks ago at the auto mechanic I spotted a VW beetle perched atop a hoist with 40-year-old California plates. Both the car and the plates were cherry-shape. If you are interested in plates commemorating the American Bicentennial, there are quite of few of them still around.

While driving through the neighboring states of Queretaro and San Luis Potosi earlier this week we noted far larger and more expensive reminders of the U.S., apparently brought back by Mexican workers who toiled Up North for who knows how many years, saved their money and came back home to spend it on something tangible--like a house or a small business.

In two cases, the immigrants--who may have worked in construction in the U.S.--brought not only the money but also plans or photographs of their dream houses, which bear no resemblance to a normal Mexican house.

In one instance, the owner must have either worked in some southern American state or gone to see "Gone With the Wind" too many times. The result is a scarily Tara-like creation, except built on a far more modest piece of land, perhaps half an acre.
What will the neighbors think? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. 

The other looks like standard-issue suburban America. It could be suburban Chicago or suburban Houston, but it's definitely out of place on the road to a speck of town called "El Carnicero" ("The Butcher")

A piece of American suburbia in rural Mexico. 
A more enterprising sort invested his savings into what he (or she) may hope will eventually turn into a retailing giant, sweeping across Mexico and other countries. Its name is "Gualmart".

We've got the concept, all we need are the customers.

###

2 comments:

  1. When I was in Yucatan last year, Islagringo and I were driving the back roads and came to a typical back highway village. But smack dab in the middle of town was a Cape Cod house -- but where there should have been clapboard, there was concrete. It was a bit eerie. I almost expected a haunting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I forget the name of the town, but near where these houses were, right in the middle of the square, there was a large bronze monument celebrating the people who had emigrated to the States and then returned. It showed a man holding a suitcase being welcomed with open arms by his wife and child. I've never seen anything like it and it was quite touching. Wish I had taken a photo.

    al

    ReplyDelete