Texas or Tejas? Mexico’s Influence

When someone from New England thinks of Texas and Texans, we tend to think of stereotypes, due to the outlandish size of the personality of famous Texans both real and fictional.

There’s former presidents George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson, the latter with a very strong and crude personality.

There’s the rich oil tycoon Texan in the Simpsons who loves to fire his guns into the air when he gets excited.

Even the photos from the JFK assassination show local police and sheriffs wearing ten-gallon hats with their uniforms.

We associate Texas with oil and with the Wild West.

Toby Keith and open-carry guns in bars.

BBQ and line dancing.

Not Quite Our Experience

While I didn’t expect my visit to Texas to fulfill one giant stereotype of Texas, I did expect to see lots of cowboy hats, boots, and country music. I also expected to see a gun or two.

These experiences may be found in Texas, but Katie and I saw none of that visiting San Antonio, and the Southwest. The closest we game to gun culture was in the Mexican market (El Mercado) in San Antonio where we saw a lot of decorations made from guns and empty cartridges.

They really do love guns in Texas.

What I expected was 80% cowboy culture and 20% Mexican/Tejano culture. Instead, what I got was 98% Mexican/Tejano culture.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the Texas I expected, but I was glad I got to see the Texas that I did.

Mexican/Tejano Influence

San Antonio is the city where the famous battle between Texans and General Santa Anna’s forces occurred at the Alamo. It used to be a part of Mexico until some slave-holding Southerners moved over and claimed it as their own. As a result, there’s no surprise that there is a Mexican influence on the city.

Moving out West, it becomes more desert-like and the chances of getting Mexican and Tex-Mex food increases. This is a great thing because those styles of food are delicious!

Yum!
A breakfast burrito, and a rice & bean burrito.
A breakfast burrito, and a rice & bean burrito.

We saw billboards in the cities written in Spanish as well.

spanish language billboard

spanish language billboard

Due to Mexico’s presence on the border with Texas and centuries of fluid travel between countries, the foods and culture have intermingled.

There is a word for people of Spanish-speaking descent that are born in Texas: Tejano, pronounced Tay-hahno (Tejas is the Spanish name for Texas).

According to Wikipedia, the definition of the word has changed over time.

Since the early 20th century, Tejano has been more broadly used to identify a Texan Mexican American. It is also a term used to identify natives, as opposed to newcomers, in the areas settled. Latino people of Texas identify as Tejano if their families were living there before the area was controlled by Anglo Americans.

Should I Check Out Southwest Texas?

If you find yourself thinking, “Mexican culture? That’s not Texas!,” then the Southwest probably isn’t for you. However, you should know that Mexico and Texas’ history is very closely related.

You really can’t talk about Texas and its history without also talking about our Southern neighbor. I would recommend a visit to SW Texas to anyone because it is just as important to Texan identity as the “cowboy/rancher” culture that first comes to most people’s minds.

If you like Texan history, Southwest Texas is the place for you.

If you like Tejano music (think mariachi with a cajun-style accordian thrown in) or mariachi music, Southwest Texas is the place for you.

If you love tacos, burritos, flautas, enchiladas, fajitas and spicy salsa, Southwest Texas is the place for you.

In fact, while you’re there, you should pay a visit to Mexico and say hello since it’s so close!

Have you ever been surprised when your impressions of a place differed from the reality? Leave a comment below and let us know!

 

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