formality of Guatemalan culture also extends to etiquette. Guatemalans take titles seriously (including doctor or doctora for doctors and dicenciado(a) for an attorney or holder of a bachelor’s degree). Whenever possible, they should be used when addressing the individual in person or via correspondence.
Women usually greet men and each other with air kisses. Men will greet friends with a handshake different from the standard business handshake. Grips tend to be firm. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to say, “mucho gusto” (a shortened version of “nice to meet you”). Simply saying “hola” is considered too casual.
Other greetings include “Buenos días” (good morning), “buenas tardes” (good afternoon), and “buenas noches” (good evening). Particularly in rural areas, people will greet each other with one of these as they pass each other along the trail, road, or street. In urban settings, you’ll often hear one of these greetings when someone walks into a place of business, such as a doctor’s office, for example.
Another formality is the use of “buen provecho” when walking into a restaurant where people are eating and “muchas gracias” upon getting up from the table after a meal.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com