‘What’s With All the Mexicans?’

Española, NM – So I’m leaving the gas station and I’m asked Excuse me, sir? by a well-groomed man I guessed to be in his 50s. He wasn’t wispy, but wasn’t quite small, either, but his diminutive size nonetheless belied his deep gutteral voice. The sun glinted off his oily bald head. Can you tell me how to get to Santa Fe? he asked.

He glanced down at my plates as I gave directions and after he asked what brings me to New Mexico.

I live here, I told him. About three months now.

His beady eyes darted to and fro as he leaned in and asked with his hand shielding his mouth from the gas pumpers over yonder, What’s with all the Mexicans here?

He was from Oklahoma, a border state.

I explained not many Mexicans live here, that most Rio Arribans descend from Spanish explorers and the Indian women they impregnated. The Spanish were here 50 years before Jamestown, I continued, and 80 years before the founding of Philadelphia. As America declared its independence this area was ruled by a Spanish King.

The Spanish conquest preceded Mexico by more than 200 years.

His brow furrowed in confusion.

Everyone around here looks like a Mexican.

I imagined he’d make a fine piñata.

But what came next threw me. He’d found a hole in my history and decided to pounce.

But doesn’t Spanish come from Mexico?

Instantly I regretted giving him the right directions.

4 Comments

  1. Aunt Linda says:

    Hey, he could be from Wisconsin. Sounds as dumb as all the folks who are union members and voted for Walker . . .

  2. nathan says:

    Lol! To be fair I knew little about the Spanish influence until moving here and the accent – even among the young kids – is very, very thick. The county does feel foreign. It was the snide tone that bothered me. 

  3. Olivia Rodriguez says:

    “he might be a redneck………”

  4. Chris Navid. says:

    Did you ever consider that the locals looked at you and the snide baldy that they were saying, “Who are those pinche gringos looking over here.”Que se vayan a la chingada.”That was likely what they said, no more no less!Thanks for your story.r.n

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