On the way to the gym, in a small square outside a church, the Red Cross had set up a small awning under which they planned to encourage people to donate blood. Having donated blood on various occasions in the past I stopped and asked if it was okay to give blood after doing vigorous exercise, and they said it wouldn’t be a problem.
After an hour and a half of cardio and weight training aimed at increasing the prospect of my being able to survive the up and coming trek without looking like a weakling, I left the gym and headed back to the nurses with their needles and syringes. The first question they asked me when I arrived was, when was the last time I had visited North America, to which I replied that it had been four years ago. I also clarified that I was in fact British rather than North American or a Gringo, which is the common word used here for most foreigners. To say that I am Welsh would have confused them unnecessarily.
The term Gringo is said to be derived from the chant of the Mexican people at the North American soldiers in Mexico who wore a green uniform, “Green Go, green go,” which over time became Gringo. Here most foreigners, whether they be from, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Europe are bundled into the same category and referred to as Gringos.
Oriental looking visitors are usually diverted into another category, that of Chinos, irrelevant of the possibility that they may be from a country other than China. There is a video on YouTube of the Miss Panama contestant answering a question about Confucius. She said he was, “un Chino Japones,” a Chinese Japanese. She then goes on to say that he invented confusion!
I don’t know why in beauty contests they tend to ask the girls questions which are usually difficult for them to answer based on their education level or the time given to answer the question. Another classic is the answer of Miss South Carolina who says that most North Americans can’t locate North America on a map because the majority of U.S. citizens don’t have maps.
You can see the video of both contestants here.