Kudos to Dale Palfrey for her recent column “Strange and obnoxious conduct” excoriating some expats for insensitive, rude and unsafe behavior.
As Dale pointed out, there are many expats who volunteer and donate and work hard to give back to the lakeside Mexican community, but they are undermined by the behavior of the few who think they are privileged and that the rules, common sense, and common decency don’t apply to them.
We are guests of the people of Mexico. They have opened their country, and sometimes their homes to us. They give us so much more than a cheap place to retire; they give us a culture built on art, music, family and “puedo ayudarte” (can I help you). And whether we realize it or not, we benefit from that culture every day.
I will never forget the night last year when I was hopelessly lost after a rock concert in one of Guadalajara’s most desolate industrial areas at 2:30 a.m. when a well-dressed Mexican couple appeared out of nowhere to ask, “Are you lost? Can we help you find the road to Chapala?” I don’t know if they were angels or they lived there, but they got me home, exemplifying the Mexican spirit of helpful hospitality. The least we can do is return that spirit with politeness, thoughtfulness, and an awareness of how our actions look to others.
Every one of us is a representative of all of us. Every time an expat engages in strange and obnoxious conduct it reflects on all of us. I agree with Dale that it might be best if those whose conduct makes us all look bad “pack their bags and go away,” but in the meantime let’s try to remind them that they are guests and should be on their best behavior.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic