The Rules of Dating in South America for a ¨Gringita¨ - Go! Girl Guides - Helping Women Travel
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The perks are obviously engaging in a new culture, experiencing a life completely different from my own and living a life astray from the linear path that I am used to from the United States. The downfalls are clashes in culture, at times feeling alienated, and missing the customs and comforts of my own city. Dating in South America can be incredibly tricky as well. I am an avid supporter of mixed-raced relationships.
I think you can learn a lot from a partner that comes from a completely different background. There are however, without doubt, some culture clashes that may occur because of different belief systems, environmental conditioning and family values.
After living in South America for over a year, here is my take on being a gringita and the rules of dating in South America. It is a common topic in conversation here and some women have become so accustomed to it, that they accept it as normal. I have dated a few men who were machisimo and if I had not recognized the signs in the beginning it could have ended very badly. What are the signs? Obsessively calling, texting, FB messaging.
Dating & Romance
Exhibiting stalker behaviors like showing up at your house without your approval or spreading nasty rumors when you decide that you need some space. Another big sign is when you have heard through the grapevine that they have been machisimo with other partners as well.
This rule is not just exclusive for men; women can become very jealous and overbearing as well. Look for the red flags in the beginning to avoid disaster in the end. Be Patient So you have found yourself a wholesome, good-looking, sweet South American man. Boys have few occasions to meet girls.
They do not mingle in social activities, and there is no such thing as "dating" or calling on a girl. The established meeting ground is the lake shore and its connecting paths, an area known as the playa. Girls go to the playa several times a day to fetch water. Late in the afternoon boys return from the fields and station themselves along the water route waiting for the girls. Courtship conventions are standardized. The suitor may greet the girl, but he may not touch or detain her as she descends for water.
His chance comes as she ascends balancing a heavy water jar on her head. He steps out of a by-path, grasps her wrist from behind, and the two remain standing as he delivers a set speech. Indeed, the girl has little recourse but to remain attentive since movement or resistance would topple her water supply. Perhaps that is why the boy does not try to interfere as she walks down the path encumbered only with an empty jar; she might insist on continuing on her way.
Girls attract suitors when they enter adolescence. This may be as early as the age of twelve or thirteen, but usually they are fifteen or sixteen when courtship begins. Boys are several years older when they start courting.
Wooing is a drawn out affair. No girl indicates consent the first or even the second or third time she is petitioned on the playa. The usual courtship is prolonged over many months, occasionally over a year. There are good reasons for the girl's hesitancy. To begin with, the girl is frightened. She is young and has been shielded from boys since early childhood. The first proposal on the playa is exciting and flattering but at the same time embarrassing.
She is bashful and plays the part. Her only reaction at first is shy passivity. She is immobile as long as her wrist is held and may not utter a word in response to her suitor's pleas.
The boy is not dismayed, for he knows that, he will have to repeat his plea day after day before she overcomes her shyness. Sometimes a girl is so frightened by her first courtship experience that she drops her water jug. But this seldom happens, not because it is considered bad taste, but because a broken jar is a serious financial loss for which the girl will be severely scolded by her mother.
Moreover, it is a sign of bad luck and the girl may have to eat a fragment of the shattered clay pot to change her luck. But even after the girl becomes accustomed to courtship she is slow to give her consent, for the prospect of married life is not entrancing. Her burdens will increase, she will be faced with sex demands for which she is not prepared, and she may fear that her mother-in-law will be a harsh taskmaster.
Courtship by contrast is a pleasurable experience and the girl has every psychological motivation to protract this episode as long as it is expedient to do so. Never again will she feel so important. By withholding consent she exerts power over men, a privilege unique in her lifetime. Nor is she disposed to encourage the first suitor; others may come along, and she may have a better panel from which to choose.
If a girl is popular she may be wooed simultaneously by three or four swains. Among men there is no expectation of sole possession of the girl during courtship.
If there are several contestants, each awaits his turn as she returns with water. When one finishes his appeal the girl resumes her journey only to be stopped short by another aspirant. Courtship gossip is a favorite topic of conversation among girls. They tell each other who is wooing whom, how many beaux this and that girl has.
Later in life women reminisce about their onetime popularity. Some will recall that they were detained two or three hours in climbing the foot path, so many suitors did they have. Boys petition only one girl at a time.
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If the girl persists indefinitely in maintaining her indifference, the young man may lose hope and transfer his attention to another candidate. What do the boys say as they stand behind a girl clasping her wrist?
They consume little time in romantic adulation and avowal of eternal passion. Such notes may creep in, but major attention is centered on allaying the standard fears attending marriage. The petitioner realizes what every woman knows, that the bright promises of today may soon fade before the harsh realities of wedded life, that she may suffer from neglect and even from want, that she will amount to little more than a servant in another household.
This then is the content of a typical courting speech: Let us be married. You are I grown up now. It is time for you to take a husband. I will buy clothes for you; I will purchase earrings and bright shawls. My mother is a kind woman; she will not be cross with you. My father is a good man; he is not severe.
We have enough corn; we have enough beans. My mother will give you whatever you need; you will get everything. Why not get married? All women get married. I am a good man; I will not get drunk and beat you. I will come with my parents to your house, and they will speak to your parents. Or if you wish, we can elope. My family will receive you well. They will not scold you. I will buy you skirts and blouses.
It is much the same on following days. At first the girl does not venture to reply. When she does, her attitude is invariably negative. She will give reasons for not marrying: My mother would get angry. Your mother is mean. Your father is cross. You are too young or too old. They say you deserted your first wife. Far from discouraging the boy, these strictures arouse hope.
She sounds unwilling and skeptical, but that is the characteristic response of a girl in San Pedro. A yielding attitude would mark her as brazen and immodest, might even scare off her suitor. Perhaps she is little different from the American girl who chides, "You do not love me. The San Pedro suitor goes on dispelling her doubts. The girl continues to voice her distrust. She never says "Yes. This stylized gift, known by the Spanish term Brenda, is a small packet tied up with colored yarn containing two old Spanish coins, now handed down as heirlooms.
It is presented to the girl during courtship on the playa. The boy makes no vain effort to persuade her to accept his Brenda. He drops it into her blouse at the back of the neck.
She cannot extract it without loosening her clothes.Guatemala too young to wed documentary
Perforce she takes it home with her. She probably does not mention the event to her parents but she sends the coins back to the boy's house, usually by a younger brother or sister. The coins are never kept the first or even the second time they are slipped into her blouse.
To accept them at once would betray an improper lack of reserve. The boy continues his pleading on the playa. When at last his Brenda is not returned, he knows that he has gained consent even though the girl may have said "No" earlier that same day. The next day he detains her by the wrist as before, but only to discuss the method of marriage, whether it is to take place formally through negotiations between their parents or informally by elopement.
Some of the more sophisticated suitors supplement their courtship conversations, which are always carried on in the Indian vernacular, with formal love letters, written in their own hand or by a more literate friend. These, too, conform to pattern but the romantic note is given more stress, as in the example that follows: As I take up my pen to greet you, I hope this humble letter finds you and your worthy family in good health and spirits.
And now you must know that I am mad about you. You are the light of my life. This is my second letter, and I beseech you to be so good as to reply so that I may know your answer and that you are thinking of me. I want to marry you, but you have told me you would never get married.
No, my pretty one, the opposite is true.