October 23, 2012

Is It My Smell?...

One thing I have found being an expat is how extremely hard it is to befriend other expats. Its like a secret society or something, and I just want to know the password to be allowed entry. Can someone, please, show me the secret handshake?

I've been asked by friends what other expats do for a living here. And my answer is always, "I can't really tell you much because honestly, we rarely have conversations with other expats and mostly just talk to Mexicans." Not that we mind talking to Mexicans because they are the most generous and welcoming group of people I've known. Its that sometimes, you don't want to be the only person standing out like a sore thumb.

Now, I am not one of those women who has ever needed a lot of friends. In fact, I've never really been very good at that whole "girlfriend" thing that other women do. I don't like to shop. I don't like to yip yap on the phone. I don't like
to gossip or complain about my husband. So, you see, that kind of leaves me out of the whole sorority thing.

So its not me that I'm worried about me so much. Its my daughter. She's 10 months old right now, and her "playmate" is her nanny. I worry that she will not get socialized enough and will not know how to interact with other kids as she gets older. Where we live is fantastic, and we love our neighbors. However, we don't really have any infants in our area except for the few that I've seen of expats walking at night.

As much as my husband and I say, "hello" and try to interact, there's no reception to it at all. A prefect example would be when I was in the store the other day and walked by 3 different expats, 2 with children Taelyn's age. They intentionally looked the other way so not to make eye contact. I know I do the same when I go to stores like Walmart because I don't want to get questioned by tourists. However, we were in a pretty "locals" only grocery store so clearly I wasn't a tourist.

So here's my question...if you were a mother surrounded by others that you may or may not speak their language fluently, wouldn't you want your child to have a playmate and you a friend to occasionally chat? Even if you were like me and not "girlfriend" material, wouldn't you get over it for your child for their development? So now Seth and I are thinking, "How are we going to get Taelyn socialized when everyone who has kids speaks only Spanish and my Spanish is not at the social standard yet?

We were at a Mexican neighbors house for a get together one night and talking about our predicament. Does anyone else see the irony that we were discussing with Mexicans about how to get into the expat secret world? I do. They gave me some ideas of places I can take her to she can interact with other children. Of course, we can always take our nanny to help with any translation. But am I a horrible gringa because I want my child to interact with Mexicans and other gringos as well? I don't want her to lose touch with her American side because she lives abroad.

Do you think I'm worrying about nothing? Do you other expats find yourself sometimes alienated by other expats because its cliquish? 

1 comment:

  1. That's so weird! I wonder if it's a Playa thing. Here in Cancun, it's hard to get the expats to interact with the Mexicans hahaha

    All through university I had 100% Mexican friends. Once I started working with expats at my job, I discovered all these online Cancun expat communities. It's a very tightly knit and friendly group! I say keep trying and just put yourself out there, and try to go places where there will be kids :)