There’s a saying in Mexico: pueblo pequeno, infierno grande. That means small town, big Hell. Based on my observations both in Mexico and the U. S., I would say it’s quite accurate. The rumor mill cranks up at the slightest hint of “news.” The rumors themselves spread at the speed of light, each version getting more outrageous. I think people make up things to fill in the blanks.
Shortly after moving to Mexico, two ladies with a Chihuahua showed up at my gate. She wanted me to take a look at her dog. There was a spot on his back that looked like maybe an insect bite or something. I was understandably puzzled by her request. I looked, told her I had no idea and sent her to the local animal supply store for a better answer. Turns out, she had “heard” I was a vet. It made sense to her, I figure, because I did move there with some pets.
The gossip changed periodically, but I was a hot topic for quite a while. My neighbor and friend, Marta, kept me updated. It’s a good thing I was paying attention because they knew things about me that I didn’t even know! I went from a veterinarian to a drug dealer overnight! I just laughed it all off. When someone finally asked me, I was happy to tell the truth: I am a teacher. I must not have had any street cred as a “narcotraficante” (drug dealer) because I was teaching English classes soon after.
The thing about a small town is that threads of kinship, friendship or work connect everyone. I just like to listen; it’s amazing what can be learned by being silent. At least that way I don’t stick my foot in my mouth!