“Cesar just asked me out and I don’t know what to do!” Our 19 yr. old is confused. Cesar is what would be considered a “mui guapo”, (strikingly handsome), Mexican 20 year old man who works as a waiter at “Ramones Hauchinango, (Red Snapper), Restaurant”, one of the beach side restaurants in the Mexican village Boca de Tomatlan, where the Casa is Located.

“What’s the problem?”, I asked. “He was so suave when I asked him if he had a girlfriend and he said yes! When I asked why then he was asking me out, he replied… “I like to live in the moment”.

“Oh God”, our 23 year old daughter pipes up. “These Latin men…they all say that!”. She has had two steady Mexican boyfriends and one South American lover. “Well, what should I do?” our younger daughter asks,”I don’t want to be immoral!”

This opens a discussion regarding the cultural differences and expectations re/dating and relationships. It is not ok to be “friends” with a young man in our village. According to many of the young Mexican men, it is expected to have a girlfriend (or wife) and sometimes, not always a lover, on the side. Not so for women. Our oldest daughter attempted being friends with a local man who wanted more and she was shunned by the other adolescent males in the village.

Cesar did ask our daughter if she thought her father would approve. Hello… what about her mother?! I wonder if he was assuming that my husband would approve naturally understanding him having a girlfriend and wanting to also date our daughter…Ah… these Latin men… the last boyfriend of our 19 yr. old used to take her out on his boat to a beautiful nearby island and pick her coconuts, open them and feed her!

The dynamics, behaviors, etc…between men and women in the Mexican culture is complicated. The pueblo we run our business in still adheres to a woman moving in with the extended family of her husband. She knows her role, duties and how she is expected to fit in. Our daughters have often commented on the notable ease, comfort and security of this cultural expectation. No angst around choices. In some ways, very seductive.

How much of one’s individuality, goals, dreams, self-determination, powers, etc… is sacrificed following these prescribed cultural roles? Without really being in the interior and living as our neighbors, how can we really pass judgement or really know who has more freedom……