I’m getting ready to leave Tuesday for another trip to Guadalajara for the UDG Agora project as well as getting to spend some time visiting Ken Bauer.

I should be practicing my childlike command of Spanish (“Hablo español como un niño de tres años”). Maybe I need to refresh by visiting those sites that help tourists learn key Spanish phrases.

But I am thinking that I need to do more than being able to ask ¿Dónde está el baño?

On previous trips, I’ve felt somewhat embarrassed of representing my country. You “hear” stuff by un-informed Americans about “lazy Mexicans” and everywhere I was in central Mexico, I saw reality more like this:

We saw workers ay 1:00am working with hand tools on that street project. Or the ones building the tall building next to the place we stayed out, playing music and laughing all day long as they worked. Hard.

That hard work ethic, yet joy, was also in the faces of the faculty and students we worked with at University of Guadalajara:

And then the one day when we had walked to a shopping district, a man pointed to my DSLR camera and was saying something in Spanish; my fluent friends reported he wanted to warn me to be careful about camera thieves in the area that prey on tourists.

Or the woman who shared stories where her partner made a piece of her art into a pendant for me:

Or when we were wandering the downtown and looked in the doorway of an old residence that workers were renovating. The men invited us in and told us all about the 400 year old house they were working on.

This happened again and again on the 4 visits I have had in 2015-2016 to Guadalajara.

So now, going back after the US Elections, I am almost feeling more shame of being an American and what that represents, than embarrassment. About how little many Americans know of their neighbors yet talk about the country in big, broad, racist strokes.

I am working now on a new set of key phrases to use when I travel next week:

A mis amigos en México, pido disculpas por la forma en que muchos estadounidenses describieron erróneamente a su país.

Me da vergüenza decir el nombre de nuestro nuevo presidente. No diré su nombre.

Lamento que mi país haya lanzado al mundo un monstruo llamado chupacabra naranja.

Construir una pared era una idea estúpida. Prefiero una puerta.

Muchos estadounidenses hablan de México sin experimentar la calidez, la generosidad y la ética de trabajo de la gente de México

Más de la mitad de las personas que votaron en América querían al candidato que no estaba loco.

(To my Spanish fluent friends, that was my best attempt via Google Translate, round tripping for a check. Corrections welcome, muchas gracias)


Top / Featured Image: Entering Mexico from Lukeville (US) to Sonoyta (Mexico) when I drove there in 2005 to spend a weekend in Puerto Penasco. At the time I quaintly wrote of the border, “Nothing special, just drive on through.

flickr photo by me https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/46684944 shared under a Creative Commons (CC0) license

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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