Tuesday, November 17, 2009


When my father was evacuated across the pond in 1940 the first native of the New World that he encountered — a New York cab driver — greeted him thus:

"So Limey, how does it feel to be a refugee?"

While he was away becoming a product of the American High School system, my grandmother opened up her home to those late arrivals into WWII, the GIs. Many other London householders were similarly welcoming. My father has often told me how Grosvenor Square, site of the American Embassy, then took on the appearance of a car park for countless dark green US-Army vehicles.

A novel kind of refugee has just moved in next door to us. For not only are Mexicans and Guatemalans 'resident' in the United States having to plead with their relatives back home to reverse the customary flow of monies, Guatemala is starting to fill up with gringos fleeing financial ruin (and debts) in the land of the free.

Our local economic migrant is a middle-aged Texan. We've already nicknamed him 'White Van Man' after the vehicle which eventually followed him down here. We already know quite a lot about him thanks to his all-American loudness. Indeed, it is something of a routine for him to come out into the street every evening and speak into his mobile phone in such a way that any English-speakers within a two block radius will acquire a pretty good idea about the kind of obstacles he's already facing in his quest for a successful reboot down here...


Mark said...

Sounds like you need to refer that guy to GuateLiving. I've been known to lend a hand to a loud gringo now and then. Maybe you'll end up with a more hospitable neighbor.

duendemaya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
duendemaya said...


Sorry for my Spanglish or Ingañol in advance.

As we're known in the local media, "mojarras" (the counterpart of wetbacks in the US) are pouring back into the homeland like never before, and I mean NEVER. Above 24k is the very conservative and official number being mentioned lately (http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90852/6816611.html), but that's just of deportees from the US, I don't have the numbers from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Mexico – Yes, they’re all doing their part to protect their local economies and jobs, or so they think.

I'll venture to say that the real number of deportees just from the US will amount to above 200k by the end of 2009. Many are returning home voluntarily, without the divine intervention of the “authorities”, which renders a huge gap in projected effects of the situation, as it will play out locally in 2010.

The reversed remesas will only last for so long, I mean, banks and international wire transfer companies are the ones benefiting from this calamity, but one cannot survive anywhere in the US with $40 or $80 a month. Many of the real victims are and will be children – US citizens, not novelty there, ironically.

But of course, the gringos mojarras in Guatemala are not or will not be having such a hard time, except that their iPhones are not working properly, but Kara’s post will assist them properly (http://newmaya.org/2009/10/22/how-to-get-an-iphone-on-tigo-without-a-plan/), also, the infamous maid issue that some tend to vent publicly and will be earning them some ___ “popularity” with the local 666 Maids’ Union, but that’s another story. (The gringos hippies in San Pedro La Laguna, Pana or Livingston are an entirely different breed.)

I tend to think that this wave of new migrants in Guatemala, legal or illegal, will bring something positive. I still remember the wave of gringos in chancletas showing up around Antigua in the 70’s, many came after that, but eventually left, only the ones who either extended their families locally or set up their own business, stayed. We humans are natural migrants, nomadas y “mojarras” por antonomasia.