I love stories, because I’m a storyteller.
I love all stories, but especially funny stories.
Best of all, I like funny stories with a happy message.
One of the biggest challenges of storytelling is sharing cross-culturally. Something that a group of Americans would double over in laughter at may leave an African audience or Hondurans scratching their heads and saying, “Huh” (or whatever people say in their heart language when confused.)
This is not the fault of the listeners, or the translator. It’s the responsibility of the storyteller to get the point across. That is why I carefully practice and examine my words. Will this story get “lost in the translation” or be culturally insensitive or irrelevant?
However, my story about “Mexican Dirt” is always understood.
This story is grasped by any group who’ve had their folks immigrate to the United States. Mexican Dirt is always understood, especially by the men.
Many Hondurans immigrate to the U.S. to work. I once heard that there are more Hondurans in New Orleans than in any place outside of the country of Honduras.
After Katrina, I became friends with dozens of Hispanic families who’d evacuated from south Louisiana.
In Honduras villages, my friends pointed many nicer homes with the comment, “A family member is working in America and sends money back home.”
When Hispanic immigrants come to America, there are many changes in the culture that they must adjust to. One of my friends, Monsie Marquez, told of the vast difference in how Mexican families operate in comparison to American ones.
According to him, in Latin America the husband is “the boss” and is supposed to have the final word on all domestic matters. The men are much more autocratic and don’t take much lip from their wives or children.
When these families come north of the border, they are always shocked and amused at how many American families operate much more democratic. (American men like to think they run their families, but it reminds me of this one-liner: “Watch out if a man tells you he’s the boss of his home. He’ll lie about other things too.”)
Monsie, who hails from Chihuahua, Mexico, swears that some men will bring a bucket of dirt from south of the border. When their wives become a “little too American” and express independence, they’ll pull the bucket out, step onto it, and loudly proclaim,
“Woman, this is Mexican dirt I’m standing on. You will do what I say even if we’re in America.”
The men of Honduras, as well as the women, loved that story.
However, from watching things there, I’m not sure the men are in as much control as they think. I’m convinced women worldwide are a lot smarter than we men are—and always find a way to get their way in the end.
In spite of Mexican dirt.