¿Gringo…y Qué?
by gringosam

It’s mildly ironic that I find myself contributing to a blog entitled ¡Que Gringo! as I find myself burdened with the title on a daily basis. I am currently based in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, and will continue to be until January. As a people, Ecuadorians are famous for their woven ponchos and colourful indigenous carnivals. They are not particularly known for an imposing physical stature or fair skin.

So imagine the looks as a pale 6’3” Yorkshire lad ducks under the doorway to take a seat at one of the city's many guinea-pig-serving restaurants. Everywhere a gringo goes in this country, there seems to be an eager, mobile audience. I’m a naturally shy character, so the audience of fifty when I stumble onto the bus in the morning can be discouraging. It’s part-and-parcel of life here though and a voice inside me tells me that the ego will take a hit when I return to the UK, where I barely stand out in a crowd of one.

Getting to the roots of the term gringo in South America has been occupying me for the past couple of weeks. I still can’t decide whether I find it offensive or not. While Ecuadorians will use it as something of a harmless term to denote the Western tourists that keep their economy ticking over, it is by the same token a very clear labelling of a particular race which would most likely be termed derogatory in my politically-correct homeland. The American Heritage Dictionary, for instance, classifies gringo as ‘offensive slang’, ‘usually disparaging’, and ‘often disparaging’. I know what you’re thinking: how pleasant!

But, perhaps surprisingly, my conclusion here is that these things ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, in certain regions, a gringa is a ham-and-cheese-stuffed tortilla – so it’s more than possible that there’s been a terrible mix-up at my expense! If you refer to the Bios section of our blog, you will no doubt see in me a strong resemblance to my spicy gastronomic counterpart.

In the end though, it’s nothing more than a curious cultural experience and that’s what we want ¡Que Gringo! to be all about. I only hope that, over the months, I am able to serve up blog entries that are interesting and perhaps even entertaining. If for my part of the bargain I continue to eat defenceless domestic pets and endure weeks of unparalleled name-calling, I hope you can stick around for a while!

(Everything I post will be punctuated with my own photography, my ability in which far outweighs my written proficiency!)

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting and witty blog. Make sure you floss your teeth to get out those bits of guinea pig.