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Monday, August 2, 2021

Grasping Mexico’s beautiful and bewildering street art

Appreciating cultural differences doesn't necessarily mean understanding why a cartoon pig is frying himself in a pan

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For foreigners, street art and commercial imagery can be bewildering, from a happy pig frying in a pan and a touching street mural of someone’s abuela to a bull ready to carve up steaks.

Have you ever walked through the streets of a random town in Mexico and looked at the imagery that surround you?

Such as a pair of eyes that looks at you, full of love. They belong to a pig, who sits in a frying pan on a hot stove, with a big smile on his face. Wouldn’t you want to have a bite from that? Just a random sign that I ran into a couple of weeks ago.

Or a muscle-bound bull, painted on a wooden sign, that looked at me seeming to say: “Look! I am sharpening knives, ready to use. A great steak, as this is what I am!” This should persuade you to buy that piece of meat, right?

These are images that I could never imagine to find in the Netherlands, let alone in Dutch restaurants.

On the other hand, I often stumble upon fascinating beautiful painted murals, which can be found in many cities nowadays, and which are true pieces of art. Or the advertisements for stores, elections or businesses that you see on brick walls everywhere. I think such imagery and how people relate to them says a lot about the local culture and the country you are in.

In Mexico, everything is so different from where I come from, and in some ways so similar. People live: they work, sleep and eat. In different proportions.

Cultural differences are huge, but also small. Doesn’t this depend on how you see life and how flexible your attitude is?

Many times, when I walk around town and I see the murals and signs, I think, “Where on earth am I?”

Right, in a beautiful country! Mexican society is a celebration of brotherhood and happiness. Just watch the news and see how people get together, in bad and in good times. Just listen to the party at your neighbors’ house on a Tuesday night. Look at Mexican families and your neighborhood. Sometimes it feels like I am in some kind of theme park. The only thing missing is a rollercoaster. Or wait… just hop in a car in Mexico City and you’ll probably feel like you’re in one.

Let me know what the weirdest, funniest or most inspirational sign or mural is that you stumbled upon in Mexico. I will gather some of them on my own blog.

Debbie Vorachen is an expat from the Netherlands who has been living in Mexico for over five years. She is a cultural anthropologist with a passion for intercultural communication and traveling who founded Ahorita YA. Email ahoritaya@outlook.com if you face any cultural challenges, or if you have any doubts or questions about (living in) Mexico.

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