A Rebuttal: Dear Ms. ‘Gringos being awful’ in Puerto Vallarta

Most foreigners in Puerto Vallarta probably haven’t taken much notice, but the media in Mexico sure did when an American woman created a viral video criticizing other Americans living in Mexico and claiming she isn’t like them. But isn’t she?

It’s not surprising that Mexican media would pick up on a video with an American criticizing other Americans living in Mexico. She is only saying what most Mexicans think about us and secretly talk about with each other. It’s much easier to spread these thoughts and opinions when it’s coming from within rather than a Mexican reporter writing about the topic. The problem here is that the American woman criticizing Americans living in Puerto Vallarta is wildly uninformed and uneducated in Mexican history, culture, and generally in life and worldly travels and experiences.

Good for her for making a viral video. It doesn’t take a lot of talent. Make a video of you complaining about something and dropping the f-bomb on every sentence, and that makes a viral video. It’s our society now. We love to see other people ‘read’ or ‘own’ others, even if we do it with an enormous amount of ignorance. It’s very ‘American’, exactly what she tries to convince us she is not.

The woman in her TikTok video appears to have just arrived in Puerto Vallarta within the last year, to be with her Mexican boyfriend, probably her first interaction with a Mexican in her young life. So, allow me to school her as a Gringo in Mexico for two decades and a lot more relationship experience with Latinos than years she has been alive. Dating a Mexican for a year and living in Puerto Vallarta for less than that time is hardly enough time to conclude, or have authority about, ex-pats living anywhere, much less the complex economic and cultural ties between Mexico and the United States.

I will start with my own opinion about Americans living in Mexico, I won’t give an opinion about Canadians in Mexico because I only speak from experience, and I am not Canadian so my opinion on that isn’t based on anything that I know.

I have been in Mexico for two decades and I have no American friends, by choice. I am not going to sugarcoat this and I know it’s very generalized, but Americans complain a lot, and about everything. I didn’t notice this until I moved to Mexico, perhaps after leaving the bubble of the United States it was easier to identify. I really found myself wanting to avoid all the negativity that so many Americans brought to the table.

There is a lot of poverty in Puerto Vallarta, there is crime, and children are kidnapped and used through sex and human trafficking. Many families in Puerto Vallarta go hungry every day. So sure, it annoys me when I see a foreigner posting on Facebook about their desperate search for Velvetta cheese. Read the room. Be a little more sensitive to the fact that you have chosen to live in a developing nation where most people don’t make more than $10 USD a day. They truly worry about where the next meal will be, they don’t even have the time to think about Velvetta.

My own mother moved to Mexico after I had lived here for more than a decade, she too drove me insane with being too ‘gringa’. I couldn’t tolerate being around her and complaining about so many things in life that are trivial.

The most spoken phrase in Puerto Vallarta is, “that’s not how we do it in the United States”. I feel the pain of Ms. Gringos Being Awful, but the difference is, I don’t post videos to Tik Tok complaining about people complaining and expecting no one to see the irony.

But here’s the rub: Ms. GBA (as we will refer to her through the rest of this rebuttal) claims at the end of her video that she isn’t ‘like them’, referring to the Americans and/or Canadians she tried to publicly humiliate with a viral video about them complaining.

Ms. GBA complained about gringos complaining to make the point that she isn’t like them, complaining all the time. She is exactly what I expect from an American in Mexico, she didn’t convince me otherwise.

Ms. GBA is the role model of Americans living in Mexico, but she doesn’t see it that way because her complaints are valid, in her mind, and everyone else should be dismissed because she doesn’t live their lives or experiences, therefore their complaints are not relative to her personally.

We are all different, we have different life experiences that form our opinions, and that’s what makes us great. Understanding and respecting those differences, even if we disagree with them, is what makes us extraordinary. Complaining that someone isn’t exactly like you and doesn’t share your exact personality or values is so much worse than complaining about cheese. Although they are both ridiculous subjects to ponder when our life is so short.

The first complaint from Ms. GBA is how Americans steal from other cultures, saying that is what Americans do best. All while she is proudly wearing braided hair. For those who don’t know, braided hair started with the Himba people of Namibia in Africa. Something tells me she isn’t Namibia, and she had her braids done in MEXICO! She didn’t complain about a Mexican braiding an American’s hair with a traditional Namibia braid. The irony.

Ms. GBA is an American, she calls herself a Gringo, which is grammatically incorrect, she is Gringa, so she doesn’t appear to speak Spanish while living in Mexico complaining about Americans not embracing the culture or being too American while sticking to her native English language. The irony continues.

Ms. GBA is condescending because a white woman is offering Yoga classes in Mexico. Suggesting that is cultural appropriation because Yoga originated in India and a white woman should not be teaching the class. She makes a point to refer to the woman’s skin color numerous times, as if race is the issue, although she does later say she will fight racism when she sees it. Just more irony.

Ms. GBA seems not to know that Mexicans practice Yoga and there are Mexican Yoga instructors. Or that there is a Yoga Institute in the country. Not to mention that Yoga is practiced worldwide as a health exercise to promote mobility. There are many things that originated with one purpose, such as Yoga and meditational practice, and the benefits for other purposes were discovered and adapted in other ways. Not to mention that Indian gurus were the ones who exported the practice around the world. Her problem is clearly that the person is white, she can’t stop mentioning that fact, as if judging someone based on their skin tone is justifiable. A very interesting point of view from a Black American.

Her second complaint about Americans in Puerto Vallarta is a man who posted in an ex-pat group on social media asking that people respect different opinions and debate with civility. Ms. GBA considers that a ‘Gringo’ asking people to be civil is somehow gringos being awful. However, the only gringo being awful was her responding with an f-no, then continuing to say she will come after anyone who makes racist and bigoted posts. She never showed any of those racist posts she claims are in the group. And this just after her previous complaint couldn’t stop referring to the woman as being white, as if race was the issue. Irony.

She continues to ridicule a post on social media from someone complaining about their yearly vacation rental price increasing for 2023. Ms. GBA has a point. If foreigners think rent is getting expensive in Mexico, they should be more concerned about how Mexicans can even afford to live in their own country while Americans are forcing gentrification and making it impossible for Mexican people to live in their own land. That is the reality of foreigners flocking to developing countries just so they can live cheaply. They displace the natives. However, her arrogance seems to bypass the reality that even her own presence in Mexico is in fact contributing to the gentrification of Mexico, and more precisely, Puerto Vallarta. All this while she is trying to make the point that Americans have no self-realization, and she proves that she falls within that category too as she encourages Americans to stop living in Mexico, except her, of course.

Ms. GBA continues to point out an American wondering if it’s better to spend pesos or dollars in Puerto Vallarta. She responds by saying if a Mexican tried to pay in Pesos in the United States they would be in jail and the idea of paying in Dollars is ridiculous. She obviously has never been anywhere around the US side of the border where pesos are accepted in the United States, but I digress on her ignorance and will make the economic point as to why she is wrong to criticize the use of dollars in Mexico, or speak for business owners, as if she has knowledge on the subject.

I always recommend that Americans use pesos when in Puerto Vallarta, or anywhere else in Mexico, because the exchange rate that a retailer or restaurant is going to give you is way worse than the current bank exchange rate. You will end up paying 20% more for any purchase if you pay in dollars directly to the seller. But that is your choice.

As far as the business owner, yes, they want you to pay in dollars. They want it so much that many places have prices in dollars and big signs advertising they accept dollars. They will not call the police as Ms. GBA thinks should happen. The dollar is strong in Mexico and if the business can afford to stuff those dollars in a safe and wait for a better exchange rate, because it changes daily, they can make a pretty penny (pun intended) off Americans using dollars. So why Ms. GBA feels the need to scoff as if Mexican business owners would be offended is beyond me. Well, it isn’t. It’s because she isn’t informed.

One thing she gets right is that Americans are ridiculous with their commitment to brands. I hear it all the time. Why can’t I find good dill pickles, a certain cheese, or even toilet paper? My own mother drove me crazy with such silliness. If you are going to move to a foreign country, you better be a person who is comfortable with change. There are very few similarities between life in the US and in Mexico. When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do.

Ms. GBA ends the video by asking Americans and Canadians to stop buying property in Mexico. I get it! But let me briefly tell you my history.

I didn’t move to Mexico because I wanted to live cheap, and survey after survey shows that is the number one reason that Americans and Canadians move to Mexico. Yes, it’s affordable for them, but they are creating a housing crisis for the Mexican people who on average earn less than $1,000 a month, and that’s a good job. If number one on your list for moving to Mexico isn’t because you love the culture and people, then you shouldn’t move to Mexico. Moving here for cheap living only prolongs Mexico’s tradition of paying people poorly. Things are cheap because the minimum wage is $5 US Dollars a day (not an hour). Moving here only for the affordable cost of living while the Mexican people suffer and live in poverty isn’t ok with me.

All my life I felt like a foreigner in my own country, the United States. I could never really connect with people or places, and I moved a lot trying to find that place where I felt like I was home. I found that feeling of being home, and with my people, when I came to Mexico. This is my place spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Not financially. I am not here to buy up land and flash my white privilege card around, nor am I here to take advantage of the Mexican people’s struggle by supporting low wages for my personal benefit. I am here to be part of the culture and life of Mexico because that is where I found peace within myself.

The fact that Ms. GBA ends her second chapter of ‘Gringos being awful’ with the claim that she hopes her video will be helpful by showing gringos their errors and opening a dialog is just disingenuous. Her video is about getting followers and clicks. That’s why I am not linking to her videos.

If you really want to educate people about cultural differences and how to respect different cultures while visiting or living in a foreign country, I am here for that lesson. A lot of Americans, and other foreigners, need to hear that message. However, a profanity-laced video where you need to identify everyone as ‘white’, sends a completely different message that isn’t cohesive with the stated purpose of the video.

In my very long life and many years living in Mexico, allow me to give a bit of advice to Ms. GBA. Trying to shame people to bring about change isn’t nearly as effective as you think. It will get you clicks and streams, which I think is the true purpose of your videos. However, if you are being honest about why you made two videos shaming Americans to bring change, take my advice. Live by example. Making a video as a rude American to school rude Americans isn’t the way to bring about change.

You don’t like Americans complaining? Then stop glorifying the act of complaining just for clicks on Tik Tok. If you don’t like the gentrification of Mexico, then leave, you are part of that problem as an American living in Mexico.

Nothing Ms. GBA demonstrates is an action directed toward her. She is visiting ex-pat groups trying to find ‘gringos being awful’ just so she can complain about them for clicks. Let me assure you we can all go into any Facebook group and see comments from someone that is disrespectful in some way, or offensive to us personally, that don’t reflect everyone in the group. With that said, when my mother was planning to move to Mexico I warned her not to join any ex-pat groups because they were catty and the best people to learn about living in Mexico is always a Mexican. You don’t consult your eye doctor about your heart palpitations. She did join a few of the groups and later left because of the rudeness she experienced. She was warned.

I admit I have generalized about Americans in Mexico throughout this rebuttal, but that is because normally those who act badly are always the loudest and get the most attention, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are many of us who are good and here to live the lifestyle, not the financial advantage.

Ms. GBA understands all too well that ‘Gringos Being Awful’ get the most attention, and that’s exactly why she is one of them. No decent person would try to humiliate another person, who they don’t know, just for personal gain. Ms. GBA represents the worse of ex-pats, not the best.

There are areas in Mexico that are considered ex-pat communities, and Puerto Vallarta is one of those. Because there are many foreigners, there are better services, from nicer restaurants to infrastructure, and excellent shopping (and places to get braids done). Life in general is a lot easier because foreigners live in these communities. I chuckle when people say they like Puerto Vallarta because it’s ‘authentic’.

Ms. GBA, you have chosen to live in a city that is designed to attract foreigners. It’s like going to the zoo and complaining about the smell of animal poop. If you don’t like the way Americans act, which I respect, then you should leave the ex-pat havens and head to a truly authentic Mexican town. You wouldn’t last a day.

But I don’t think the way Americans act really bothers you, you just found a way to get clicks and attention. After all, you act exactly like the people you try to shame. You are very Gringa. Own it or change it.

Below are the two ‘Gringos being awful’ videos that this opinion is referring to on Tik Tok.

This is a rebuttal to a Tik Tok video and a personal opinion. My views may not represent yours, and that’s OK. We can live peacefully and respectfully with different opinions :) – Ian Parker

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