How to be polite: Saludos

Good morning to all our friends

Upon visiting Colombia, one of the first things travellers notice is how important it is to greet everyone you meet. Hola (hello) is okay to use, but it’s better and a lot more common to hear buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon), or buenas noches (good evening/night). Each time you enter a room, it is impolite not to greet either the room at large, or to greet each person individually. Individual greetings are also accompanied by a kiss on the cheek.

And besides the short saludos (greetings/salutations) it’s also a good idea to exchange pleasantries like ¿Cómo éstas? (How are you) ¿Cómo amaneciste? (How did you wake?) ¿Cómo vas? (How’s it going?) ¿Qué más? (What else?). Many Colombians I know ask all these questions at once without pausing between to wait for an answer.

Here on the Atlantic Coast, buenos días/tardes/noches is often shortened to just simply buenas. Instead of ringing a doorbell, guests come to our front gate and just shout a greeting. Late students loudly announce their presence in the classroom rather than just slipping in, “Buenas! Permiso!” (Good afternoon! Excuse me!) And each time a new teacher enters the teachers’ lounge, they greet the room and then walk around to say hello to everyone, often with a kiss on the cheek to the ladies.

Next time you visit Colombia, don’t forget to say “good morning!”

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