Gangs recognize that part of the psyche of individuals who uproot themselves to a foreign land is the craving for safe yet interesting foreign experiences. These experiences form the basis of the repetoire of stories that are told in the Jardin or Back Home. The Gangs in San Miguel, therefore, have a requirement that each gang member must make at least one Mexican Friend so they can begin to build their Repetoire of Stories. There is a relationship between the amount of Stories you have and how immersed you have become in your adopted land.

Gang members are instructed to befriend their maid and gardener first and to refer to them using the term Mexican Friend . A typical sentence would be “Oh but my Mexican Friend Maria told me yesterday.” The term Mexican Friend is like Don and Dona in Spanish or Mr., Mrs., and Ms. in English but genderless. These Mexican Friends are now the proof to those back home that you are living in a foreign country and have changed.

Payback from having Mexican Friends is almost immediate with the first invitation to the maid’s brother-in-law’s kid’s baptism, or the gardener’s granddaughter’s baby shower. Attending with an expensive gift, will results in the building of the Repertoire of Stories. Non gang members in the Jardin with no Mexican Friends are in awe of anyone who “Really knows about this place”.

A touching payback comes when your Mexican Friend or neighbor (referred to as My Mexican Neighbors or My Poor Mexican Neighbors) knocks at your door with gift of a plate of tortillas. Now the routine for friendly exchanges has begun and you will reciprocate with an small appliance or lawn furniture bought at Costco.

The ultimate payback comes when you are being asked to be madrino or padrino by your new Mexican Friends that you have only known for 5 days. Now you are part of their family and near the top of the ladder of those who have become part of the community.

Making friends is a win win situation for all. For Mexicans a small investment such as a plate of tortillas or asking them to be a madrino or padrino leads to overgifting and $. For the expat a gift leads to a Mexican Friend and the start of a vast repertoire of stories about them. Everyone wins.

Thanks to Jennifer Rose for the concept and details on this Gang Activity that seems to exist outside of San Miguel too.