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I'd like to hear some thoughts about how you all deal with people asking for $$$/help. In the many trips I've taken to Baja, I almost never encountered that, but when I've been in DF, Oaxaca and other places, it was often present, if not common. By nature I'm a generous sort who doesn't care much about keeping my cash to myself if others are even needier than I. I know, however, that even poorer gringos are richer than many Mexicans, and they will be seen as potential sources of revenue by so-called beggars (a demeaning term I hate.) Despite my general misanthropic view of Americans, I do believe that -- approached properly -- they tend to open their wallets more than most when their hearts are touched by real need.

So -- do you evaluate the "beggar," before you decide to give some money? How much is the right amount to give without also giving insult, or being taken for a fool? Is there a better way to do it than just passing out pesos to anyone who asks -- for example, supporting a local program that feeds the poor or the elderly?

I don't mind it when people ask me to share with them. My favorite Mexican example comes from my 1971 extended visit to Mexico -- my wife and I were sitting by the open window of a cafe on the road between Puebla and Oaxaca, chatting about how fabulous it all was while we sat there inhaling tacos and cervezas. Suddenly, a tiny brown hand and arm sneaked through the window to hover over our table, palm up. We looked, and it was a little Indian woman (she looked 80, might have only been 50) begging for a bit of change. She was adorable in her beautiful shawl, and gave us the sweetest, most appealing look. Of course we gave to her, with not a word spoken. It may have been other than she hoped for (perhaps 100 pesos) because she looked dumbfounded and quickly fled. Was it too much? Not enough? I've never known.

Your experience, please?
 

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I'd like to hear some thoughts about how you all deal with people asking for $$$/help. In the many trips I've taken to Baja, I almost never encountered that, but when I've been in DF, Oaxaca and other places, it was often present, if not common. By nature I'm a generous sort who doesn't care much about keeping my cash to myself if others are even needier than I. I know, however, that even poorer gringos are richer than many Mexicans, and they will be seen as potential sources of revenue by so-called beggars (a demeaning term I hate.) Despite my general misanthropic view of Americans, I do believe that -- approached properly -- they tend to open their wallets more than most when their hearts are touched by real need.

So -- do you evaluate the "beggar," before you decide to give some money? How much is the right amount to give without also giving insult, or being taken for a fool? Is there a better way to do it than just passing out pesos to anyone who asks -- for example, supporting a local program that feeds the poor or the elderly?

I don't mind it when people ask me to share with them. My favorite Mexican example comes from my 1971 extended visit to Mexico -- my wife and I were sitting by the open window of a cafe on the road between Puebla and Oaxaca, chatting about how fabulous it all was while we sat there inhaling tacos and cervezas. Suddenly, a tiny brown hand and arm sneaked through the window to hover over our table, palm up. We looked, and it was a little Indian woman (she looked 80, might have only been 50) begging for a bit of change. She was adorable in her beautiful shawl, and gave us the sweetest, most appealing look. Of course we gave to her, with not a word spoken. It may have been other than she hoped for (perhaps 100 pesos) because she looked dumbfounded and quickly fled. Was it too much? Not enough? I've never known.

Your experience, please?
Whatever you feel at the moment.
 

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Good question, and one that I'm sure you'll get a spectrum of answers to. My own personal take on giving is that I don't mind giving a little to someone who is old, infirm, handicapped, or who is trying to help themself. Can I make an absolute determination on who is genuine vs who is faking, of course not, but I don't try to either. If a guy invests enough effort to come with a fake injury or a severe limp, that's good enough for me. The amount is usually around 5 pesos, depending on the situation, but that's not to everyone that approaches, there has to be a limit. I find it much easier to give if one is making an effort toward self-sufficiency, such as selling candy, fruit, washing windshields (the ones who ask before squirting) or even finding and directing you to a parking space.

On the other end, there are three particular types that I just cannot contribute to. These are:
1. Street acrobats (I don't give to any of them, but the ones who spew the flames or those who enlist small children will never get a donation, even if I someday lighten up my resistance to the others)
2. Those seemingly healthy young men who populate the areas of topes, speed bumps, and walk amongst the traffic holding up one finger, for one peso, and then pointing to their mouths, in an apparent gesture indicating they will buy food.
3. Those who farm out very young children to beg while circulating through the downtown restaurants, etc.

As to the sweet old lady in your post, my thought would be that she gets a 100 peso note once every couple of hundred years or so, and didn't want to give you time for second thoughts.
 

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When I see ambulance drivers or firemen at intersections I usually give 5 to 10 pesos,

What I hate is when in the USA every Safeway,Walmart, Kmart,rite aide ,cvs or target has some with a table setup begging for something........
 

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I'd like to hear some thoughts about how you all deal with people asking for $$$/help. In the many trips I've taken to Baja, I almost never encountered that, but when I've been in DF, Oaxaca and other places, it was often present, if not common. By nature I'm a generous sort who doesn't care much about keeping my cash to myself if others are even needier than I. I know, however, that even poorer gringos are richer than many Mexicans, and they will be seen as potential sources of revenue by so-called beggars (a demeaning term I hate.) Despite my general misanthropic view of Americans, I do believe that -- approached properly -- they tend to open their wallets more than most when their hearts are touched by real need.

So -- do you evaluate the "beggar," before you decide to give some money? How much is the right amount to give without also giving insult, or being taken for a fool? Is there a better way to do it than just passing out pesos to anyone who asks -- for example, supporting a local program that feeds the poor or the elderly?

I don't mind it when people ask me to share with them. My favorite Mexican example comes from my 1971 extended visit to Mexico -- my wife and I were sitting by the open window of a cafe on the road between Puebla and Oaxaca, chatting about how fabulous it all was while we sat there inhaling tacos and cervezas. Suddenly, a tiny brown hand and arm sneaked through the window to hover over our table, palm up. We looked, and it was a little Indian woman (she looked 80, might have only been 50) begging for a bit of change. She was adorable in her beautiful shawl, and gave us the sweetest, most appealing look. Of course we gave to her, with not a word spoken. It may have been other than she hoped for (perhaps 100 pesos) because she looked dumbfounded and quickly fled. Was it too much? Not enough? I've never known.

Your experience, please?
Ha!Too funny!! You gave her 100 pesos? She might make that in a whole day, no wonder she ran away....probably hoping you did not realize the mistake before she got around the corner.
5 or 10 pesos is what the locals give to the poor in our area. There are scams being pulled all the time but it would take years to figure them all out. A good begger can knock down more money than a full time employee at a store. I have watched, and payed, one old lady with a walker who I saw wave down a taxi for a ride home. No buses for her, a taxi will do just fine.
 

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It's nice to give. 100 pesos. Wow, very generous and I'm sure that woman still remembers you to this day. My partner who is Mexican might give a peso or two. I probably the same maybe five. Charity given and received with dignity always seems to be the most important element.
 

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When we 1st moved to Mexico, San Miguel, we hired a car/driver to show us a few out of the way places. I asked him, a Mexican local, how he dealt with the situation. He said in no uncertain terms not to give any money to the beggars. He said that the older people typically live with their kids and when they are at work they are told to go out and beg whether needed or not. Even worse is that these often have small grandkids with them that they are watching. Probably the worst are the kids selling chicklets at night. If you look well enough you can spot the parents. Finally notice that they rarely make a gesture to a Mexican.
They know that gringos are soft touches. I was told that much better is to give money to one or more of the multiple charities that focus on an area of interest. Must admit that if someone is doing more than just begging like playing a guitar, I do slip a few coins.
BTW, this pretty common worldwide. When I first moved to China, I was walking the Bund in ShangHai with two Chinese friends when this little child made a beeline for me to ask for money. They looked around and found a very well dressed couple that were the child's parents. They went up to them and really read the riot act.
 

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Begging

When we 1st moved to Mexico, San Miguel, we hired a car/driver to show us a few out of the way places. I asked him, a Mexican local, how he dealt with the situation. He said in no uncertain terms not to give any money to the beggars. He said that the older people typically live with their kids and when they are at work they are told to go out and beg whether needed or not. Even worse is that these often have small grandkids with them that they are watching. Probably the worst are the kids selling chicklets at night. If you look well enough you can spot the parents. Finally notice that they rarely make a gesture to a Mexican.
They know that gringos are soft touches. I was told that much better is to give money to one or more of the multiple charities that focus on an area of interest. Must admit that if someone is doing more than just begging like playing a guitar, I do slip a few coins.
BTW, this pretty common worldwide. When I first moved to China, I was walking the Bund in ShangHai with two Chinese friends when this little child made a beeline for me to ask for money. They looked around and found a very well dressed couple that were the child's parents. They went up to them and really read the riot act.
Living in SLP is not that the children at the stop lights can target tourists, they can't. As for the elderly, I personally would not know about SMA but it being a tourist destination might be what the taxista described, but other non tourist destinations we would have to conclude it would be up to us to decide what or when to give, as well as to amputees, etc.

The children should be in school when out in the streets selling Chiclets or begging, juggling balls etc, at those hours and should be living a normal childhood at least, and especially not on the corner late at night. We do not give to them and my wife will chat with them to ask questions; why they are there at all.
 

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The children should be in school when out in the streets selling Chiclets or begging, juggling balls etc, at those hours and should be living a normal childhood at least, and especially not on the corner late at night. We do not give to them and my wife will chat with them to ask questions; why they are there at all.
Even in public schools, it takes money to send children there. The cost of uniforms and supplies lies outside of many families budget. Is your wife a social worker?
 

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Even in public schools, it takes money to send children there. The cost of uniforms and supplies lies outside of many families budget. Is your wife a social worker?
My wife is a bureaucrat for the federal Secretaria De Salud.

I know each semester only cost about $200.00 pesos to the school, when the school starts if they have a uniform. The material to make one is about $150.00 pesos, my friend's wife told me. Supplies can be used or recycled or the Christians supply them for free. The overall layout is about $500.00 or less if a uniform has not been acquired yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
He said in no uncertain terms not to give any money to the beggars. He said that the older people typically live with their kids and when they are at work they are told to go out and beg whether needed or not. Even worse is that these often have small grandkids with them that they are watching....I was told that much better is to give money to one or more of the multiple charities that focus on an area of interest.
Last year I struck up a bit of an internet friendship with a couple from Austin living in Patzcuaro. They are evangelical Christians, of the best kind, dedicated to doing as Jesus did to help the unfortunate -- I'm not religious myself and normally find evangelicals discomfiting, but these folks appear to be the real thing. They participate in a program at the Santuario which provides daily meals for the elderly poor. According to them, many of the kids have moved to to the US, leaving their parents/grandparents without the traditional support network. I was happy to make a donation to the program, and as you suggest, that's probably the best way to go.
 

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Last year I struck up a bit of an internet friendship with a couple from Austin living in Patzcuaro. They are evangelical Christians, of the best kind, dedicated to doing as Jesus did to help the unfortunate -- I'm not religious myself and normally find evangelicals discomfiting, but these folks appear to be the real thing. They participate in a program at the Santuario which provides daily meals for the elderly poor. According to them, many of the kids have moved to to the US, leaving their parents/grandparents without the traditional support network. I was happy to make a donation to the program, and as you suggest, that's probably the best way to go.
The Christians in both Mexicali and San Luis Potosi try hard to supply school supplies and even if they are recycled. It wouldn't surprise me the local Christians would have local recycled uniforms also.
 

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I avoid giving to panhandlers because they will usually spend the money on booze, and sometimes drugs. I remember 2004 in Pto Vallarta, a guy in his early 30's, borrocho, came up to me good english said he heart his arm and needed 50 peso's I told him he should apply at a AI property, they need Enlish speaking employees, he was gone in seconds......
 

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Heh. The first time we were in MX, I was in what passed then for downtown Tulum, in the middle of a weekday. A well fed, school uniformed little boy, carrying a backpack, came up and asked for money.

I gave him my "mom look", and asked him if his mother knew that he wasn't school.

He fled.

And my daughter cracked up in laughter.
 

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I give or buy the services of anyone who try's to earn it . Selling gum , singing , washing windshields , playing guitar ect . I also give to the disabled because I know they can't work a regular job and they don't get much from the government .

I do not give to the straight beggars sitting on the curb with their hands out .

Last year we went to Isla Mujeres and a noticed a beggar woman would walk to the pier like clock work when the people lined up on the docks for the returning boats .

Its obvious she had a house close to the dock and knew the schedule of all the boats .
 

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Californians are not know for spontaneity ... Have you told them that?QUOTE]

Ummmm...it was a joke, playing on the idea that we Calis have a class for everything.

And in 1971, the peso was a lot cheaper than it is now.
No, the dollar was cheaper :)

One dollar was 12.50 old pesos (or 1.25 centavos of new peso, think about it, 1.25 centavos could buy you a dollar).

So the old lady got 8 dollars exactly (quite a bit back then).
 
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