Photo essay of our long drive out to Boca del Cielo. Fim-de-semana-na-praia with Fernando, Marco and Claudia.

For 80+ photos of the trip, please scroll down my Chiapas Excursions Album.

This is my ranting post on a random topic. Meeting hundreds of Western Europeans every day, several thousands over three months, I get to see some trends… and so far I’ve very much liked the Dutch and Germans, who are not only amiable but also fun, curious, perceptive, and down-to-earth makes an excellent impression on Holland and Germany. Not only multilingual, they seem fairly willing to try adventures and see positive attributes of places they visit. Italians are nice, kind of haughty, they tend to stick in their smoking circles, and boy do the women seem to age (too much sun and makeup?)

The French (and sometimes the Spaniards, and to a lesser degree the Belgians) however, often seem to come with a superiority complex and Euroicentric presumptions about other people… (1) Primarily in the tone of their voice, they assume that I ought to automatically know their nationality…to me, they just look “white”…and (2) either their insistence that I ought to know French–or for the Spaniards, their sheer *disbelief* that an Asian might’ve learnt Spanish is kind of insulting… “what? how!?”…just like French who seem confused that even if someone doesn’t speak the language, they might deduce and understand 70% of what they’re saying (Hello, I’m not sure if they’ve noticed how many cognates are similar, but it really is like a dialect of Portuguese. I mean. I’m just saying, you just have to attempt to understand.)

Actually I find surprise most irksome, because it indicates underlying beliefs: First the French/Spanish assumption that anybody in Latin America or Asia who has been to Europe must be “rich” and the absolute obliviousness about circumstances in Asian and African continents (whereas they’ll consider you uneducated if you don’t know islands in the Mediterranean. Islands!!) in which they seem to be shocked when I mention that many many places are more expensive than Barcelona or Paris. In fact, as a professional in Monterrey, Mexico or Lima, Peru you can earn a fatter salary than what they get.

And I guess I shouldn’t be bothered but I kinda am, the French/Spanish/Italians seem to implicitly demean people in service more than Americans do, as if nobody would work in service unless you absolutely had to for income. In my own case, sometimes when I’m helping out in product sales, and first they really treat me like I’m beneath them and later they ask and find out who I am, they’re like, “oh my God, you studied what in which university?! You’ve worked in those companies already, and wait, you’ve already started a company?! You’ve got investment portfolios paying dividends and you’re how old? How many languages do you speak, how many countries have you been?” I’m thinking: Okay, where have you been… Many people work hard because it’s rewarding, and prefer it over idle beach vacations. Not everyone serving you has to be poorer and dumber than you. (Indeed, in California, many ingenious hundred-millionaire CEOs will be dressed in t-shirts n’ jeans.)

I find it funny also that when they do talk in a self-flagellating way about the world’s racism and discrimination, it’s also Eurocentric. Man. As if Europeans were le-malaise-du-monde and nobody else would have conquered other peoples with cruelty (Genghis Khan, anybody?) They seem to not believe that many people do keep a pale complexion for aesthetic and health reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to look European. Or “Latin Americans aren’t as hot…Argentines look good because they look more European.” (Um, no, they just look gorgeous, period. There’s plenty of Europeans who aren’t as attractive as Argentines.) They also talk about Asians being discriminated against, as if it were one-sided, without considering that people born with rather white-features in Asia are in fact painfully harassed by Asians too. Obviously I’m massively generalizing, there have been several exceptions and individual personalities. But really. Wow. And added to all of this, is pessimism and negative perspectives that I can’t describe, they’re always complaining and seeing the cynical side of things. In fact, considering that I’m the one working hands-on in poverty development, really, the world isn’t such an suffering place that they make it out to be. (Check this out: This Parisian dude is the most cynical and negative “Professor of Happiness” I’ve ever read about. Cheer up, mon amie.)

I say this rarely, but whew, actually meeting so many of these types made me glad to be an American.

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It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity” — Publilius Syrus

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