We’ve just returned from a spontaneous visit to Puerto Vallarta. The rates in Mexico in early December — both airline and hotel — are almost a gift. The town is just lively enough to keep everything simmering, but the Christmas-week throngs have yet to arrive. And the weather? Well, the weather is a gift, especially if you’re coming from the Northwest where the rain is like a toothache that won’t go away.
Foreign travel always broadens one’s perspective. That’s one of the reasons we like it so much. The perspective explored during this trip, quite accidentally while talking with a PV shopkeeper (also a Gringo), was, “What is our nationality?”
“Americans” is far too broad. There are multiple American continents, extending from Chile to Nanavut. How about “North American”or “norteamericano”? Nope. Not specific enough. In Puerto Vallarta, it seems there are more Canadians than those of us from the States, and Canadians can certainly claim norteamericano-ness. (So, in fact, can Mexicans.)
Did you see the one I slipped in? “The States.” Nope. Can’t use that either. Mexico is “the United Mexican States.” Thirty-one of ’em. A Mexican is as much a resident of “the States” as I am.
My discussion with the shopkeeper, carried on at length while Louise poked around the store (that can take hours), offered no resolution. We toyed with US American, United Statesian, gringo, estadounidense, and Yankee — all to no avail. Too awkward. Or ambiguous. Or derogatory. Or unpronounceable.
In the end we agreed that there is no solution. It’s hell to live without an identity.
Bettie Edwards said:
Ah life is tough..glad you are enjoying the moments.have you eer read the book THE PRECIOUS PRESENT….short but oh so where you two are and why I am taking this giant unkown step..
If I’m asked my nationality when I’m abroad, I almost always say I am from New York – almost everyone has heard of it, and in a lot of ways I identify more with the city than with the United States as a whole. Nationality or origin in general can be very confusing, especially for people who have lived abroad for a long time, or have parents from different places… You must have had an interesting conversation!
We toyed with Oregonian, but outside of the USA, not many have heard of the place. Above California simply won’t do. Lately I’ve been thinking about Duck, as in “I am a Duck.” Keep ’em guessing, I always say.
I always say I’m from Hawaii and that sidetracks the conversation. People will ultimately call me Hawaiian (although I am not ethnically so), but I’m not sure if they mean “from Hawaii” as in Oregonian or if they think Hawaii is its own country. It can go either way I’m afraid.
I enjoy telling people I’m from Rhode Island, but even some (very few) Oregonians don’t know where that is. New England would be meaningless to foreigners. Maybe it’s “near Boston”?