where are you from, do you like tequila, what is your favorite Mexican food, do you like
Mexico, do you have children, etc.” This repetition allowed me to create and repeat the
I explained “Dick” is a nickname of Richard, similar to Francisco-Pancho, which I elabor-
ated with some positive comment about Pancho Villa, who Mexicans, especially the youth,
view as a hero for his raid on Columbus, New Mexico. They take pride in our subsequent
failure to bring him to justice in 1916.
Mexicans have little sympathy for the U.S. They view us as the Great El Norte Bully, who
stole their land, invaded their territory, scorned and pushed them around. They note every
dogfight with us as some David-versus-Goliath unresolved injustice. Well, it's justice
when we get the bloody nose, like Poncho's raid, or kicking out the oil companies in 1938.
Mexican history is remembered in their street signs; just pay attention to the names of
streets, especially those that commemorate a date like Marzo 18, and you'll get an insight
as to what's revered.
My favorite joke, which made the students laugh at revealed truth, was to pick on San
Miguel de Allende, in my view the haven for many pretentious expat American artists.
When students asked if I liked Mexico, I mentioned places and events I enjoyed and expan-
ded on my visits to Guanajuato and compared that city to San Miguel. I asked the students,
“What is Guanajuato famous for?” Most students agreed, “momias (mummies),” macabre
displays of disinterred corpses. They often failed to mention “Cervantino,” which they re-
gard as an opportunity for a student party like Fort Lauderdale's Spring break.
The mummies answer was the straight line I needed. I mentioned my experience in walking
around, sightseeing in San Miguel, and the elderly American women who singly roam the
streets and are so visible by their height, their large hats, billowy touristy Mexican attire,
and artistic airs. The kids got it. Some had been to San Miguel and smiled. I asked, “Am I
telling the truth?”
In chorus, “Yes” they called out. So the others believed.
Then, I advanced my interpretation: “In Guanajuato, they have good taste and bury the
mummies in tombs, but in San Miguel, they allow them to walk the streets.” The laughter
woke up the sleepy ones.
In spite of limited time, or demanding school schedule, I attended the theater and a number
of events. “ Con Amor a Mexico ,” a marimba concert performed by students for free, was an