When we were in language school in Costa Rica, we felt as though it was a stepping stone into the spanish-speaking culture. Each of these countries in Central and South America have differences unique to them. For instance, in Costa Rica, everyone says, "Pura Vida!" (Good life! or more loosely translated, it's just their way of saying "It's all good.") But in Colombia, everyone says, "Chevere!" (We would say, "Cool!")
At the language school, the teachers and mentors told us multiple times, "It's not wrong, its just different." While I have to mention that there are times when cultural differences cross the line into moral issues, there are times when, as Americans, we tend to think that the way we do things is THE right way.
I've been wanting to blog about some of these differences... so here is a random list of some of the things we deal with every day.
Everyone greets you with a cheek-to-cheek kiss. And then they say goodbye with the same. Sometimes multiple times. Definitely requires bursting the American "private space" bubble.
Because pianos are very expensive and churches are generally packed into small buildings, guitars are used in most services. The Colombian guitar chords and rythms are totally different from the American sounds. Daniel has had to learn new fingering and strumming patterns.
We can't turn right on red. We can almost never make a left turn at all. If we need to get to that store on our left, we go past it one block, turn right, right and right again, cross the road we were just on and hopefully arrive at the store.
We pay our water bill at the grocery store. Any grocery store will do.
We can have just about anything delivered to our house on a motorcycle. Fast food, fresh vegetables, meat, light bulbs, you name it.
Because mornings and evenings are cool (around 55 degrees) it's common to see Colombians in winter coats, scarves, gloves, and ski masks. There are times when we are in t-shirts and the Colombians look like they are expecting a winter storm. (But it never snows here.)
Home Entertaining/Polite Manners:
We serve drinks on trays. I mean that when someone comes to our house, to just hand them a glass of pepsi would be rude. On a tray is the acceptable way.
When we invite someone to our house, they are the ones who indicate when they are ready to leave. Any kind of American-style, "Well, we've got other things to do this evening..." is considered very rude. So, when we invite someone to lunch, well, they just might stay the whole day.
Oh, and it has something to do with the pipes and sewer systems not being the greatest, but we have to put our toilet paper (used) in little trash cans by the toilet.
Those are just a few of the differences we have had to adjust to. As you can see, none of them are "wrong." Even if it's not the most convenient, or the fastest way to do it, or the most efficient, it's just different.