The Gringo Nod

by Steve Mullaney

Life in Xela is fraught with a number of uncomfortable social situations: What do you do when you meet your host family? (give a gift that is of your culture). What should you be tipping? (10% if the service was good). What do you do when you meet your boyfriend’s other girlfriend? (give a gift that is of your culture). Until now, however, this advice has only been on how to facilitate Guatemalan/Foreign interactions. There is nothing to make Foreign/Foreign interactions easier. This month’s WITP goes into the Gringo Nod and other popular techniques to make your encounters with your other foreigners much easier.

The point of the Gringo Nod is to express “I guess that we are both from the same country, but I am too smug to talk with you.” It is the best way to preemptively defuse questions on how to get to the nearest McDonald’s or stories about how lovely Antigua is this time of year. You should wait until the fellow foreigner is around five feet away. A greater distance and you will look overeager, less than five feet means that the other person may have already started talking to you.

Going into the nod you will want to arch your eyebrows and make your face one part bored and one part constipated. Considering that you are probably constipated anyway, it’s not like this is going to be too much of a stretch. This is really the best way to handle this particular social minefield. Should it turn out that the other person is a bore then you have successfully diverted him or her. Should it turn out that the other person is your future soul mate, then you can later use the pick-up line “Didn’t we nod smugly at each other out by La Demo?”

Clearly, this is a technique that should only be applied when there are two people who are meeting each other outside. In situations that have lots of foreigners present (bars, hostels, etc) you will need to do something other than nod or else you will end up with major neck problems. In these types of situations a good way to acknowledge the presence of everyone else without inviting unnecessary conversation is to pretend to speak some non-existent Eastern European language. Meeting a “Where are you coming from?” with a “Drozgetelf noog untkervist” is an acceptable technique for dealing with the “That Guy” who’s always lurking around.

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