It took a while to figure out what exactly that word meant. Now I understand it so well that it makes me sick.
The best way I can describe it is as a combination of “brown-noser”, “beggar”, and “wanna-be” – only with a more insulting intent.
Jake’s friends who come over to the house get called it by the men and other kids in the street, just because they are going to the "gringos house". My friend Donald gets called it anytime we’re together in the village. When Ruth comes over to work, or even to just bring her daughter Joselyn over to play with Andrea, they call her chacatero as she walks up to our gate.
|axel gets called chacatero for being so close to our families|
Because “public opinion” virtually controls the village, being called a chacatero can be like a death-blow that keeps people from being our friends. Nobody wants to be made fun of… and the majority of the people in our village lack the self-confidence to stand up for themselves.
I could delve into all the causes and theories we always discuss as to why this phenomenon exists here. Educational, social, and economical issues definitely play a part. Lack of exposure to other types of people, the assumption that anyone who spends time with the gringos is “in it for themselves”, and good old fashion jealousy, all play a role as well.
But its not that simple. There are more layers. And there is more pain.
I can’t even count the times my son has been deeply hurt because of this. Even as a kid (and now a teenager) he knew it when friends were avoiding him in order to not be made fun of. Many of his friendships have come to an end because kids gave in to the pressure. A friend one day... would completely stop talking to him the next.
|mynor gets called chacatero but he could care less|
Its come into play with all of our friends in the village, as well as all of the boys in the academy. For some we’ve seen incredible growth and maturity as they’ve made decisions to ignore what people say and be loyal to true friendship.
But amazingly, after almost 7 years here, its still a very real thing. 2 days ago, one of Jake’s close friends ignored him completely when he walked by his house. When Jake greeted him from the street, he was treated as if he wasn’t even there. Later on, his friend told him he was sorry, but that he knew his older brothers (all men) would have made fun of him.
Just tonight, I was walking up the street with a local friend of mine, when a group of men started yelling “chacatero” at him. After several times, he finally stopped, told me he’d be right back, and walked over to confront them. They wouldn’t say it to his face. When he caught back up with me, he said he was sorry...
That particular friend is the exception! Most don’t handle those moments with that kind of confidence.
Honestly, its one of the most difficult things about living in the village of buena vista.
Ultimately, calling someone a "chacatero" is as much an insult against us as it is them. After all, they are being made fun of for being our friends.
It's a very strange feeling to deal with on almost a daily basis...