October 5, 2008

The tocayo culture on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Dig a bit deeper, and you'll learn what's in a name. Another Jose? Hose A, Hose B, thinks the the gringo. How many Joses can a culture produce and function?
North of the border, it's much the same with Johns and Mikes. Just how many are there? Who cares. First names north of the border mean next to nothing. We have namesakes, as juniors, IIIs etc. But in Mexico, they mean a lot more than even in other Latino culture.
Michaels carry Archangel weight. So do Joses, Jesuses and Gabriels. They are all religious namesakes, sometimes carrying on a family tradition, sometimes branching out into new religious-based hopes. A stock clerk at Walmart a couple weeks ago, named Jesus (Hay soos) asked me how to say Jesus Christ in English. It's Jesuchristo in Spanish.
We think of namesakes as some one - a father, a grandparent, an uncle - whom you are named after. Nice to have a historic, religious, or even pop culture background.
Here, that too. Plus, the saint or historic figure. But you are also namesake to the men around you who carry your first name.
"Oh, mi tocayo," Ricardo said, when I told him whose wife was coming to give me a massage. They haven't done business together of even talked much in 25 years, but they share a bond.
On a small island, the tocayos are important. Under any duress, if you can't reach a relative, friend or lawyer, call on one of your tocayos for help.
So a Jose, who could be known as Pepe or Chepo, or even Gordo, have a reason for those nicknames. Sometimes in daily life, only the tocayo knows the real name and can be counted to help. It's not so important for women, either.
It's a sociological phenomenon throughout all of Latin America, probably more so in Mexico than elsewhere. More so in Isla Mujeres, a small place, according to tocayos here, than in other parts of Mexico

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