If you’re not white (like the hubs and I) and are still being called a “gringo,” do you ever wonder why you’re still being called a gringo in Panama? The hubs and I do. Being Latin and first generation Americans, other immigrant Latinos never called us gringos. The hubs’ first language is Spanish. Can the locals look at us and tell that we’re American? Is everyone that’s not Panamanian a gringo? Ahhhh, the answerless questions that would run through my head night after night, keeping sleep far from my heavy eyelids.
Upon moving to Panama and getting stamped with the term, we tried schooling our Panamanian brethren on who a gringo is. They did not concur. I mean, from experience, I know that Panamanians don’t call everyone that isn’t Panamanian “gringo.” The Colombians are colombianos. The Chinese are chinos. The Costa Ricans are ticos. Why were we being lumped in with the gringos?
Alas, the hubs and I were left being called gringos from Gringolandia for the next 20 months until one day we finally got an answer to why we were being called gringos even though we’re both Latin. We’re being called gringo because the locals hear us speaking English to each other and as everybody knows, only gringos speak English! Finally, an answer I’m satisfied with.
But something crept up on me later that night and stole sleep from my weary sole. All these months wondering, hoping, looking for answers, and finally getting one. What could it be now?
I need to go back and find out if Brits, Australians, and New Zealanders are also called gringos. Does the fact that they speak English with an accent make a difference to Panamanians? Do the Panamanians have another term for them other than gringo? And the list goes on…