Let’s say you and a friend were in a Mercado in rural Mexico.
The day is squelching hot so you stop to get an agua fresca, probably de melon because you have good taste of course. As you sip your agua fresca, you look around and notice your friend is long gone—nowhere to be found.
After searching for a while, you stop and ask a local if he’s seen your friend.
In your best Español, you describe your friend as having dark hair, dark brown eyes, and big ears and oh he’s this tall—approximating your friends’ height with a hand gesture.
The local responds, “Tu amigo es un burro?”
Would you be offended?
You’d have reason to be if you consider your friend somewhat intelligent.
But regardless of the size of your friend’s ears or IQ, it is a legitimate answer.
Because depending on your hand gesture, you could be talking about an animal. And according to your description followed by the hand gesture your best friend could definitely be a burro.
Did you know there are different Mexican units of measurement for the height of a person, animal or thing?
I’m not talking about meters, centimeters, feet or inches.
And it’s not really a “unit” of measurement but more of a hand gesture.
Yes, a specific hand signal exists for a person, animal and thing.
Check out the picture for the specific hand signals and be on the lookout for them next time someone approximates height.
Have you ever noticed them when talking to locals?
(Thanks to my coworker for being such a sport and modeling these hand signals)