The new generation of smug American expats in Mexico needs to face the truth
The dusty truck bounced along the narrow streets of Jomulquillo, the village in the Mexican state of Zacatecas where my father was born. It darted in front of vacant homes, slowed past the church and finally stopped in front of the rancho’s sole corner store.
There, I stood alongside my dad and a group of older men — what was left of Jomulquillo’s population since nearly everyone else had left for East Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley decades earlier.
We eyed the man who slowly emerged from the pickup — middle-aged, white, wearing sunglasses, a polo shirt, jeans and a smile. He asked in broken Spanish to no one in particular whether there were any houses for sale. Everyone was so bewildered at the sight of a gabacho in a tiny hamlet up in the mountains of central Mexico that we stayed silent for a bit.
Then came a chorus of polite, but firm “No.”
I asked in English what he was doing so far from the United States.
“I want to move here,” said the man, who never gave his name. “It’s too expensive back home.”
Unprompted, he went on to complain about liberalism, about how the U.S. was a failed country, and how he wanted to spend his retirement in peace. He asked if we knew of any houses for sale in Jerez, the city to which Jomulquillo pertains.
The man got back into his truck and rumbled off. Didn’t even say gracias.
Although the encounter happened 22 years ago, I can remember that Ugly American like it happened yesterday in my front yard.
Any time even my own friends talk about relocating to a foreign country because the U.S. is just too much, the image of that guy’s smug countenance and his expectation that a dying town would welcome him always pops into my mind.
I tell my friends to not succumb to this most American of religions, one seemingly more popular than ever, its figurative pews filled with disciples both conservative and liberal, young and old — but all with the money to move.
In Portugal, my colleague Jaweed Kaleem found former residents of the Golden State lapping up the Mediterranean nation’s temperate climate and taking advantage of the economic situation of the country, one of the poorest in Europe. This week, my colleague Kate Linthicum filed a similar dispatch from Mexico City.
Source: The Los Angeles Times