Sunday, July 3, 2011

Some Demographics of the Yucatan

Sociology is defined as the study of a society. Demographics refers to the specific characteristics of that society. With that understood, the sociological makeup and the characteristics of the Yucatan are fairly easy to break down. As I have seen it over the past year, based on personal experience and many conversations with a variety of people, the following three groups can be found in the Yucatan:

Yucatecos. These are people who are born and raised in the state of Yucatan. When they speak Spanish they do so with their own accent. They also infuse some Mayan vocabulary into their Spanish. Their food tastes different from the rest of Mexico with many distinct flavor profiles. In public they are not overly expressive. They can be quiet and reserved in their social manners. Overall, they are a distinct, unique people. They are very proud....sometimes too proud. Most of the time they do not consider themselves Mexicans. They are Yucatecos first, Mexicans second (maybe). They are very close knit....a very tight community of people.

Yucatecos can be further broken down into two ethnic groups: Mayans and Spaniards (Whites.) Mayans are of deep, rich Mayan heritage. They look different and in many rural areas still speak the Mayan language. Sometimes they look almost Asian in appearance. The whites, as it has been explained to me, are those Yucatecos that are more of Spanish (Spain) heritage. They can at times have very fair skin and could pass for being either Europeans or Americans. I have stood at the park while my kids were playing  and listened to Mayan children tell non-Mayan Yucatecos the following words: Somos Mayos. (Translation:We are Mayans.) Where did those Mayan kids get that mindset from? Obviously someone at home is reinforcing that paradigm with them. I am not saying all of them are like that. I am saying it is out there.

And as it applies to our family.....the Yucatecos here have treated us well. I am not saying people haven't had bad experiences here. I am saying that we have had alot of Grace in our relational dealings with them and we are grateful to God for that.

Mexicans (Non-Yucatecos). Many Mexicans from outside the Yucatan are seeking to move here because of the relative tranquility and perceived stability of the state as compared to the rest of Mexico and Latin America. My wife and I have heard many times from Mexicans that have moved here that it takes a long time for them to be accepted by the Yucatecos, if at all. Many of our close friends here are from Mexico City. Most say the same thing: It took a long time for them to be accepted by a few and they are still rejected by many. I find many of the Mexicans from Tabasco, Mexico City, Veracruz and other areas to be extremely easy to get along with. Many of them speak English. Many of them have lived in the United States for periods of time.

Expats. I guess you can put just about anyone not in the previous two groups in this category. It appears to me that about 98 or 99% of all expats here are either from Canada or the United States. Expats have the stigma of being wealthy, even if you are not. If you move here as an expat then every Mexican and Yucateco you meet will think your rich just because you are from North of the Border....even if you tell them you are not.

On another note I find that Expats are more accepted by the Yucatecos than non-Yucateco Mexicans. Even the Mexicans will tell you that. A Yucateco will, more often than not, befriend an American before a Mexican from another part of Mexico. However, we are also seeing that the younger generations are more accepting of those from the outside than their parents were. Some of this Yucateco stubbornness towards others is starting to wear down. It seems that way to me. Many of the Spanish Yucatecos are raising their kids to speak English. There are alot of private-education, bilingual schools in Merida. Therefore they have to encourage their children to be more accepting of English speaking people.

And as for expats......I'm an American and yet I find that most of the Canadians, at times, are easier to talk to than some of the Americans. Canadians seemed to be better informed about the ills of Socialist Government. Most Canadians that I have met are extremely well educated and have a better grasp of the current failings of the American financial and political system than many Americans do. Not to say many Americans here don't. We have American friends here who do. It's just that Canadians seem to have a grasp of things more consistently for some reason. I have enjoyed meeting and spending time with many of them.

The number of expats in the Yucatan runs around 5,000 people or so. Most are retired and over 50 years of age. Many live either in Centro or up at the beach in and around Progresso, Chelem or Chixclub. Some are scattered around the Northern colonias of the city. Few if any live in the south. Most are retired. Many are wealthy. Some move here and get involved with the culture. Some do not. Some choose to learn Spanish. Some do not and instead stay secluded.

That's my take after a year. I don't know everything and am seeking to understand more. But after hearing the same things come out of the mouths of so many people you kind of start to get a feel for trends. You start connecting the dots. Again, I don't like to make blanket judgments and I try to deal with each person on an individual basis. These are just general observations that don't always apply to every Yucateco, non-Yucateco Mexican or Expat.


1 comment:

  1. Nice articule! Are you still living in Mexico? My husband and I are going to visit this summer!