What's A "Gringo"?
When I first got down here (three years ago) someone told me
very seriously that "gringo" means "thief" in Spanish.
Oh yeah? Actually, the word is another one of those strange monikers like
"Yankee" -- which was derived from the song "Yankee
Some people think it is a derogatory term. I think it may be, to some people. I
choose to believe that it is only pejorative when used with
a adjective, as in " steenking gringo."
Belizeans don't do that, at least not to my face.
Where "Gringo" came from
There are various theories about where
the term came from. One encyclopedia suggests that it
is derived from the Spanish word for Greek -- as in
"that's Greek to me." I believe this story,
which was related by Miz Hybarger, my fourth grade history
During the Mexican War (1846-48) the Yankee soldiers were
singing a marching song called “Green Grow the Rushes”.
The Mexicans heard this marching song and started calling the Yankees
“Gringos” because of the recurring word “Green Grow”.
(I've included the words to this song here.)
Obviously, the word connotes the sum of
experience that a stranger has with these Norte Americanos who come to visit and
stay south of the border. Sometimes that's good and sometimes it's bad,
just like people everywhere.
2006) If you think the term is pejorative, you might look here.
Gringos in Belize
If you're really checking out Belize, you might enjoy Dennis
Wolfe's cynical song called "Just Another Gringo in Belize".
It's on Jerry Jeff Walker's album Cowboy Boots and Bathin' Suits, a
collection of songs which evoke images of Belize. Jerry Jeff owns a house
in San Pedro -- "Casa Gonzo" -- and you can read about it here. There's more truth in the song than we like to admit. You can find the
lyrics here, listen to the song, and order
Newer: A lot of people
disagree with me and Ms. Hybarger. The heck with them. This is my
story and I'm stickin' to it!