Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Gringo, the Native and the Spider on the Wall

The Gringo can be spotted, usually, from a modest distance.  He or she has a certain gait, typically characterised by a swift haste, mechanical movements - a general air of needing to be elsewhere than where they are.  Another name I have come across, from a different cultural context, is 'honky tonk motherfucker', which seems to capture, linguistically and semantically, quite a strong but nonetheless jovial sentiment. The gringo, in male or female form, is unequivocally distinct from the local, or 'native' if you will (even 'local').  Often, the two types make contact.  Gringos seem to have a strong interest in the world of various natives and as such have collectively decided to tour such places with the aim of observing, recording and perhaps more rarely, interacting.  The gringo, generally speaking of course, reacts in a vastly different manner to the native.  He or she will bring up a smile; they will act according to some arbitrary etiquette as it's difficult to apply conventions from one's own world to a completely 'other' one.  As such, superficial acts of kindness, or 'niceties', clash comically with the native world.  The gringo will smile or wave or some such thing, while the other feels in a less superficial manner and will respond to the gringo's actions with genuine animal curiosity, waiting to see what else 'it' does.  How strange this apparition must have seemed in the early days!  A robotic being, marching through the dirty streets, photographing everything, even when certain things don't want to be photographed (how could I forget the utter stupidity and rudeness of the cackling gringo in the marketplace, laughing and taking photos while a local woman cowered from view, not finding it all quite as funny...).  To the gringo, often, respect is not a factor.  One must capture the moment, says the gringo; how else will I remember this?  Silly little monkey gringo.  Oftentimes, the gringo receives his or her comeuppance, and all hell breaks loose because the savages have acted badly.  The price of exotic tourism.  And the gringo that survives has many stories to tell; many gringos tell of strange ideas, people, places - all of which are ultimately flawed because of a lack of order, which the gringo understands fully (at least he thinks he does).  Sort of like a psychological researcher visiting a mental hospital.  And as such, the gringo collects his datum, discusses the results and waddles off onto another bus to see the various aspects of this strange land, enduring the discomfort for the sake of knowledge and experience.  Always, the gringo is going somewhere; a rapid pace follow him or her like the trail a boat makes speeding through the ocean.  Jump here, stop there only to wait to go here, see that, then once the seeing has finished, move across to this and then over there to photograph that; march, march, march!  The gringo will often grow hungry on its travels.  Some choose to eat familiarly, while others risk the savages food - again, occasionally, stomach-related problems will arise from this.  It is a common syndrome and has become quite well known: beware of the savage food.  All in all, the gringo and the native get along.  However, this is vastly complicated due to the political background supporting this relationship, whereby the gringo's elders have exploited to the ends of the earth the elders of the natives, so much so that monetarily the relationship is reciprocal and so, despite the superficialities, the gringo is sort of on top.  Alas...

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