Gatherings – Cultural Differences

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. So, I wanted to share with you my experience with the neighbor’s BBQ. Don’t get me wrong, I love them dearly, they are good people, just like everyone around us. The thing is I am in a mostly white community, nothing wrong with that, not trying to cause any issues, the only reason I point this out is for my story regarding the cultural differences. I grew up in a Mexican culture, where guests show up late, you have that one crazy uncle, they serve alcohol at kid’s birthdays – not for the kids, the music is loud, and more than likely someone is going to get mad or into a fight by the end of the night. We call our BBQs, Carne Asada’s or simply Fiestas, but it gets loud and everyone mingles and chats, plays games whether it is dominos, or whatever, they are a lot of fun – most of the time. If there happens to be a new face in the crowd, everyone takes the time to make the person feel like part of the family. We moved into this neighborhood by choice about 18 years ago. We did it because we wanted to raise our kids differently from what my wife or I were raised like. Not saying where I come from is bad, it was wasn’t, I mean I think I turned out ok, but we wanted to provide different opportunities for our kids.

Back to the BBQ, so of course, we arrive about 30 minutes late, we were asked to bring toppings for the burgers and hot dogs they were cooking up. They had a fresh salad made of cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, and olives with an Italian dressing. They had potato salad, and something else. Of course, we also brought guacamole and chips along with the toppings, because the food wasn’t going to be ready for several hours. Let me tell you, the chips and guacamole were gone within an hour, and everything else was barely touched – just saying. Let me lay out the party area. They have a beautiful backyard, with an amazing swimming pool, an area to sunbathe or they can set up cornhole in that same area. They have a little area for miniature golf, which can be converted to a batting cage – yes batting cage. They have a small square table that sits 6 with an umbrella in one area, they have a cabana near the grill that has seating for 4 and of course a few barstools next to the grill. Enough seating for 10, but the thing is they are apart from each other. So, if you happen to sit at the table you’ll be away from the cabana, which means no talking. In Mexican culture, and maybe not everyone, but we simply set up tables right up next to each other and either rent seats or place random seats from the house next to each other, maybe a couple of tables, but the thing is they will be close to one another; so, if you sit at one table you can still talk to other people.

The atmosphere was dull, no music playing, there were pockets of people and it almost felt like you were in high school with the cool kids sitting in one area and the other kids sitting where ever. And I don’t know if anyone has experienced this, I am sure some of you have but have you ever tried to spark up a conversation with someone at a party and it seems the other person was been forced to talk to you. You try and bring up conversation ideas, the weather, the fireworks, how is your job, are you back in the office you know things like that, but when you look at the person their eye glaze over. I remember growing up and going to a Carne Asada, everyone was talking, if you were at a table alone, a bunch of people would come up and sit with you and talk, and include you – truly try to include you. The laughter, the music the conversation, you could hear all kinds of topics and sometimes they got heated but it was fun. The time seems to fly, but not here, we arrived at 1:30 pm and left at 9:25 pm but it felt longer. I am not saying I did not have fun, but it was dry and I don’t know, just dry.

Like I said they are great people, all our neighbors are, but the neighborhood is boring, extremely quiet even on the weekends – not that it is a bad thing. But how quiet is it; it is so quiet that we cannot mow our lawn before 8:00 am on Saturdays or Sundays – no joke. I did it the first time I moved here, I dared to cut my lawn at 7:00 am on Saturday, and the next, “hello their neighbor”, several neighbors told me that they do not cut their lawn until 8:00 am. I was like, “OH!”. The area is safe, the schools are all top-notch, it is almost like a “Leave it to Beaver” community. It is quite a different culture, the food, the music, even the clothing, let me say, I wore jeans and boots and the men wore kakis shorts and polo, the women wore either long summer dresses or kakis as well. I stood out like a sore thumb, but you know, I am what I am and what can I say.

The burgers were amazing, prime beef with artisan buns I believe they got from a local bakery. We brought Lettuce, tomato, bacon, and sautéed mushrooms – it was delicious. I did try several times to spark up a conversation with the neighbors and other guests, but they were brief and I was cut off a few minutes into each conversation. I ended sitting at the bar next to the grill with my daughter and we just talked, I think it was about Minecraft – yes that was my Fourth of July. The funny thing is I saw a few friends post pictures and videos of their parties, and man it was so different, the music, the food, the laughter it was invigorating just watching – I was a bit jealous. Hey don’t get me wrong, I was with my family and that is what counts, right.

Anyhow, once again thanks for reading and I leave you with this thought, “Sometimes Parents make sacrifices by putting aside their culture or surroundings to provide a better environment and opportunities to their children. It doesn’t mean the parents are bad, or that they forgot where they came from, but it can get tough at times making that adjustment. Just remember, it does not matter where you are, as long as you are with family or those you love.”

Published by iPapito

Strange but true, I was born in San Salvador, as an abroad US citizen. It sounds strange, but you see, my mother was 5 months pregnant and happen to be visiting San Salvador. She slipped and fell in a pool and well, I was born. I am a twin, but unfortunately, he did not make and I did. My mother’s side of the family happens to be well of, and I had the opportunity to live a nice life early in my childhood. You know, private school, servant, nice home, and vacations. Things change when my mother decided to follow my father to the United States and well, that is where my story begins. I started a blog a while back, but life sort of hit and I left it behind, but now as I am a bit older, I decided I needed an avenue to share my experiences with others, while at the same time allowing me to open up and talk like I am on someone’s couch, I guess you could say. This blog will be more like an open book, created by experiences that I have had throughout my life. Experiences that many could relate to and what I did or how I handled it, you know after the fact. You never know there just might be a piece of information, idea, an option that someone could use and it would help them through the experience. Just remember these are my experiences, things I have been through, work through, and lived through – it does not mean I am right, but it does not mean I am wrong – it is simply an experience.

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