I will answer the question starting with the local situation first. Some Mexicans are used to seeing foreigners and some are not. For example, in the past, before the 1960s, there were very few foreigners in the Ajijic area, so the presence of one was a shock to the people living here. The same is true if you go to the other side of the lake today. Here in Ajijic today, it is not a shock to the locals, because we already have many years dealing with foreigners so we’re already used to it and we already know that many people from many places around the world are living here and I will say that there are not a lot of Mexicans who don’t like foreigners.
There appears to be some sense from the foreigner community that sometimes they feel that they have a lot of privileges because the foreign community feels that without them Ajijic will not be as it is now because the foreigner community creates a lot of jobs—gardeners, maids, carpenters, construction, etc. So there is kind of a feeling of privilege that the foreign community has in Ajijic. The foreigners are the ones that feel entitled against the Mexicans.
Some foreigners feel that, if all the foreigners leave, what are the Mexicans going to do? They’re not going to have jobs. Their restaurants are going to collapse because that is the reality here in Ajijic. As a result, at times you can see the entitlement. It is that foreigner who comes in Ajijic and doesn’t have to speak Spanish at all. If you go to a local store, at least the person speaks some English and the majority of the advertisements in all the businesses, there’s English and Spanish. Here, for the businessmen, their priority in hiring is if a person cannot speak English they don’t hire them. At least at the minimum, the new employee needs to know like 30 or 40% English. That is entitlement on the part of the foreigners who don’t try to learn Spanish.
And then with Mexicans, of course, we have a lot of gratitude because there are a lot of foreigner clubs, perhaps numbering around 80. There is the Rotary, Shriners, and the animal shelter that protects the animals, etc. The majority of these clubs help a lot of local people like for the children, scholarships for the Mexicans, for the animals, etc.
Foreigners at times complain when they don’t receive the services the same as their country, while the Mexicans want to provide the service the way we do it. For example, there are a lot of foreigners that complain something similar to, “The carpenter is not returning my phone call. He told me it was going to be at 8 o’clock,” This can create cultural friction there. When a foreigner complains, sometimes we Mexicans we feel like, okay, you don’t like it, go back to your country. Why are you complaining? So I feel that is not a dislike of foreigners here but there is kind of like an entitlement the foreigners feel that become irritating to Mexicans. It’s kind of like the Mexicans can say, “This is my country,” and it is our entitlement because we have one of the best climates in the world according to the National Geographic.
It’s really funny because you can go to a bar here in which there can be German guy, an American or a Republican drinking or even a Mexican talking, and there is no aggressiveness.
(Poster for the Christmas Charity Dinner at Tango Restaurant, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)