Buenos días, Buenos días

Buenos días, Buenos días

Life is short but there is always time for courtesy. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Buenos días, buenos días, que le vaya bien, they said to each other.

Courtesy was one of things that affected me the most when I moved from a huge metropolis into a little town. I was not prepared for the kind of courtesy and politeness that people I pass by offer me every day. Buenos días, buenas trades, qué Dios lo bendiga, are among the most often heard. Reading Ralph Waldo Emerson quote and having lived with courtesy for over 10 years I have to agree him. Of course, when everybody you encounter on the street is polite and you have to be polite in response, then sometimes you end up being late for some appointments. So, if you ever move to La Antigua Guatemala, remember to pad your appointments with 15 minutes for courtesy.

© 2012 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Eric

    Of all the things I talk about when I return home, this is talked about the most, Rudy.  Here, if you make eye contact with someone else on the sidewalk, people think you’re crazy, rude, after something…in La Antigua, if I FAIL to make eye contact, or return a ‘Buenos Dias’, I’m the bad guy.  In La Antigua, if I take a seat in a coffee house, everyone talks to me, and includes me in the conversation.  Here, everyone goes to a coffee house to plug-in their computers, put on their headphones, and stare at the screen with open mouths (‘Moscas!’, I tease them with, but no one knows what that means).  The courteous life does take some getting used to, but I’m with Emerson.  I like it very much.  Buenos dias, La Antigua !

  • Begonia

    Yes, but….

    As a young blonde “gringa” there are some kinds of greetings that really bother me.  When I’m in Antigua (not so much in the rest of Guatemala) a certain kind of guy will stare at me and say “Hola!” in a not-so-polite fashion. I will always return a “Buenos dias” but I usually ignore the imprudent “hola!”  Am I being rude?

    Also, after living in Guatemala for a long time one of the first things that I noticed (with relief) about returning to my midwestern town was that I could look at men I don’t know directly in the eye, without it “meaning” anything.  I realized that I had been averting my eyes from male strangers to avoid the impression that I was “interested” in them.  In Guatemala (even in the small town where I worked) I would glance at a passing man just long enough to exchange a “buenos dias” but then ignore him.  Back in the midwest, where it’s common to say hello to strangers on the sidewalk, I could smile and look at their face all I wanted.

    Now that I am married with a toddler, when I go to visit my cuñada and suegros in their colonia in Pastores, I know that everyone in the colonia knows I am “la esposa de Nacho”.  So I no longer worry about sending the wrong signal by smiling or looking directly at the men who pass me in the street. It’s liberating to be a Doña!