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The Mexican Issue

A Mexican In... Antwerp

Vice: Who are you and what are you doing here?

by Yannick Kasprowski
02 June 2008, 12:00am


Juan Carlos Bonifaz

Vice: Who are you and what are you doing here?

Juan Carlos:
I’m a musician and I came from Mexico to finish my master’s here. I got invited because I won a competition in Mexico and one of the jury members was Belgian. He said he liked the things I did, so now I’m here.

Have you been here for a very long time?

It’s been four years since I left Mexico. But I had already been to Belgium about six or seven years ago for another competition. It was in Sint-Truiden.

Did you know a lot about Belgium before you arrived?

Not really. I heard the typical things like, “Oh, the beer over here is amazing,” which is totally correct. You can really feel the difference between Mexico and Belgium. It’s been quite the adventure.

Are there a lot of Mexicans living over here? Is there some kind of community?

I know a lot of Mexicans and play music with them, but it’s not like we have a community. It’s more like a Latin-American community. I have a lot of friends from Argentina and Chile and I keep in touch with them, but not that much.

Do you get homesick sometimes?

Sometimes, yes. But I’m going to Mexico in September for almost five months.

What’s the first thing you’ll do when you’re back over there?

Eat some tacos! Immediately. I’ll jump out of the plane, into a taco place. That’s the thing I miss a lot, the food.

Don’t you like the Belgian food?

Oh yes, I like fries and stuff. And I’ve even become a fan of the mayonnaise. But I miss the spicy food, like the chili.

What do you think of European music, being a musician and all?

I think the music scene here is much more like a family. Mexico is so big that all the bands are scattered. But in Europe and Belgium, it’s so small that when you have a gig, you always see your friends. But it has the other side as well, like, “Hmm, you again.”

Where do you want to live when you’re old?

I want to be like a duck, you know, the quack-quack animal? I would like to be able to be healthy here in Belgium or in Holland or France and sometimes in Mexico too. Summer and spring over here and winter and autumn in Mexico. But when I get a really nice opportunity, I’ll stay in that place, I think.

So, if you stay here, you should know a little bit of Dutch. How’s that working out for you?

I can speak some, but it’s a hard language. I’ve known English since I was a kid, so that made it a lot easier being here. At the beginning I couldn’t speak a word of Dutch.