1. Greetings in the bigger cities is formal. When walking into a service, business, or home, it is considered respectful to say “good morning”, “good afternoon” or “good evening” to the people in the room. If you happen to forget to greet when entering a building or business, you may receive the cold shoulder and then you really will not get anything done.
2. Latin American people love music and some of them will blast it outside of their shops to being people into their business. Does it really work? Yes, it gets passer-bys attention and if they like what they are hearing they might just enter the store and become a customer. You'll also hear Latin music on most of the public buses in (some) Latin countries
3. Latin Americans frown on the wearing of shorts on the streets and in their businesses even in hot, humid countries. Don’t fret though; wearing shorts is perfectly fine at the beach and in your hotel resort compound. Many of the government offices will not allow you to enter the premises if you are wearing shorts; ironically, miniskirts seem to be ok, based on observation.
4. The people of Latin cultures are non-confrontational. For the most part they would rather not say anything rather than cause a fuss or start an argument. We shouldn’t take advantage of these good natured folks but rather find ways to not annoy them by behaving respectful of their culture and ways.
5. What happens when you put Latin Americans behind the wheel of an automobile? They transform from panda bears to rhinos; often times they become assertively aggressive and impatiently honk their horns at one another and even at pedestrians. Ironically the traffic in these countries seems disorderly and dangerous but we seldom see fender benders in Latin countries like we used to in the states. Be careful when crossing the street; some drivers feel they have the right of way even when they should not.
6. Latin folks are very helpful people and want to please you. This means they will go out of their way to be helpful. We have found that many will not accept a tip. They want you to know they helped you as a friend, not for the tip.
7. Latin American folks, especially the younger crowd are late night folks. Many times you will find them out and about enjoying meals with friends and family at 10:00pm. Even if they are in their homes they stay up late visiting with family, listening to music or watching television. On the weekends the public parks fill up, restaurants and shopping stores become packed and you will almost always see a soccer game going on.
Latin countries also have numerous holiday events throughout the year that they enjoy with their families, which means government offices are closed as well.
If you have observed any other behaviors that we foreigners should be made aware of, feel free to list them below. Thank you and have a wonderful time in South America.
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