This blog is about my exposure to the Spanish language and various Latin-American cultures through travel and research; particularly Black Latino (Afro-Latino) cultures.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Learning Latin-American Manners
To date, I've traveled to nine Latin-American countries to improve my Spanish.
My late Mexican-American friend, Yolanda, once told me, Bill, if you are going to speak Spanish, learn the culture! I agreed because every
country has their culture and customs, and we grow as human beings by
familiarizing ourselves with those cultures and customs in a world that is getting smaller by the minute.
the fall of 2009, I remember walking into a store in Southern Perú,
and couldn't understand why the store owner was getting an attitude. You
would think that she would be delighted that I'm spending money in her
store versus the other store down the street. But when I finished my
transaction and left, someone from the community who has been observing
me, stopped me. In Spanish, and in his own Peruvian manner, he said to
me, “señor, come hear and let me holler at you for a minute. When you go into a place
of business, he continued, you greet people with buenos días, buenas tardes, or buenas
noches first, then you discuss whatever business you want to handle. And
when you're done, you say permiso (an informal way of saying, “excuse me, gotta run”).
never forgot those words of advice. In my 2010 trip to Mexico City, I
tried what this Peruvian man told me on a group of Mexican nationals at
the airport. Lo and behold, I had trouble convincing them that I'm
American, and not Cuban, because I put into practice a Latin American
custom I had just learned. To this day, when I approach a Latin-American or go into a Latin-American place of business, I apply the same greeting, whether I'm in Colombia, Panamá, or a Latin-American community here in Oakland. There is more I need to learn and am waiting to be schooled.