By Allan Wall

Historically, Spain has a massive influence on Mexico:  the language, the culture, the religion, and the demographics.  It’s obvious.

But did you know it’s not all a one-way street?   Contemporary Spain has also been influenced by Mexico.

My two sons and I, who lived many years in Mexico, recently visited Spain, and we saw these many cultural links firsthand.

The language is a big part of it, but it’s more than that.  It’s the general cultural ambiance.  I felt like Spain and Mexico were part of the same overarching culture.

I learned Spanish as an adult. My Mexican wife and I  raised our two sons bilingual. Therefore, they speak both English and Spanish as native languages.   

Some Spaniards picked up on their Mexican Spanish accent.

We got the impression that Spaniards liked Mexicans.   They might be afraid to go to Mexico, given the violence, which is understandable, but they don’t have anything against Mexicans.

Several of them did, however, have some critical things to say about the current Mexican government of Presidente Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).  Mexico is “very badly governed,” said one Spanish lady.     But she wasn’t attacking the Mexican people.

Nowadays there are Mexican restaurants in Spain. I saw one in Sevilla and several in Madrid. There’s even a chain of Mexican restaurants in metropolitan Madrid called  “La Mordida”, with 9 restaurants, one of which we went to.

And just so the visitor has no doubt that it’s a Mexican restaurant, La Mordida’s décor was jam-packed with Mexican stereotypes:  papel picado, Mexican flags, a Calavera, the El Santo wrestler, the Katrina, El Chavo del Ocho, the Aztec Solar Stone and a live Mexican guitar player to serenade the customers.

Well, actually the guitar player, with whom I spoke, was Peruvian.  But he was posing as a Mexican and that’s the point!

Bottom line: there’s obviously a demand for Mexican food in Spain! 

Mexico’s multinational Bimbo corporation is active in Spain.  There were Takis and other Bimbo products in Spanish stores.    Corona beer is also sold in Spain.

There is a demand for Mexican music artists in Spain as well.  For example, I saw a sign for a July 16 concert by Mexican singer Marco Antonio Solis, alias el Buki. 

There’s another Mexican connection with the province of Soria, which we passed through. Soriana, the Mexican department store chain was founded by two Spanish immigrant brothers from the province of Soria, thus the name Soriana.

Historically, relatively few Spaniards migrated to the United States.  They preferred to immigrate to Mexico or another Spanish-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere.   It makes sense.  They already knew the language and the general culture. 

Most of my wife’s ancestors were from Spain, and her last ancestor from there was a great-grandfather who emigrated in the 1890s.   We visited his hometown, the university where he studied, and the port from which he emigrated to make that transatlantic trip that led him to a new life in Mexico.

Today there is significant reverse migration – Latin Americans from Spanish-speaking countries (including Mexico) migrating to Spain.  

Spanish immigration and naturalization law even gives a preference to immigrants from the former Spanish Empire, which includes most of Latin America.

And finally, the plant kingdom also displays a visible link between Mexico and Spain. 

I refer to the nopal, the prickly pear cactus.  This plant is native to Mexico where it is a powerful nationalistic symbol of the country, appearing, for example, on the Mexican national flag.

The Spaniards of the 1500s, either intentionally or unintentionally, brought nopal plants from Mexico to Spain.   The nopal quickly took root in Spain and other Mediterranean countries, fitting in well with the Mediterranean climate and ecology.

We visited Medellin, the hometown of Hernan Cortes, who more than anyone else was responsible for the current existence of the nation-state of Mexico.

So it’s fitting that, on the hill overlooking the town, I saw nopal plants, descendants of those brought from Mexico.  

Securely rooted in this Spanish hill, the nopal plants are a living link uniting Spain and Mexico.

Mexico Daily Post