Welcome to Perú. So you speak Spanish? Do you know how to thrive with it in Perú? Peruvians are a strong willed people, yet they also are extremely relaxed. Life in Perú is centered on the the family. These are some of the Peruvian characteristics.
If you are a woman meeting a man for the first time, shake hands. Men who know each other well enough will just pat each other on the back. Women will kiss each other on the cheek if they have known each other for a long time. Perú overall is a little more formal in social relations, even though they shake hands constantly and kiss each other on the cheek. The local Amerindians will not look you in the eye very much, it’s simply not done-so remember this. If they do shake your hand it’s light and more like a hand slap/brush than anything else.
It’s important to smile when you first meet someone. In Perú, self-discipline is the core of the culture. You have to control your emotions unless you are extremely excited about something, then you can smile and laugh all you want.Travelers are usually called a gringo/gringa. Why? It’s an expression that means “foreigner.” Eye contact is minimal and if you find yourself trying to be attentive by making constant contact, you should know that it’s taken as being extremely rude.
Space is not an option, and you will see that when in a conversation. The people of Perú stand close to one another. You might even find them so close your bellies might touch-don’t worry it’s just part of the experience.
If you place your palm up and curl your fingers toward you in a “come here” gesture it’s considered a romantic inclination (just a warning). In order to tell someone to come here in Perú you turn your palm down and beckon with your fingers curled toward you. Make sure you move your fingers or people will think that you are “sweet.” Curling your fingers in the traditional ‘ok’ gesture means “nice.” Sweeping your hand across the table means “pay me” in Perú.
Perú is a mix of Spanish culture and native culture. There are many expressions that are never covered in a textbook, and most people have to learn it all the hard way. Amerindian people do not use many gestures if any at all.
Remember when you arrive in Perú, if you are going to have an appointment or an event with a person, expect he or she to arrive at least 30 minutes late. There are many people that have this habit of not being on time and usually, when they arrive, they blame it on the traffic or other excuse. And usually, when they arrive they say “SORRY” and give the excuse. However, there are other people that will ask for “hora inglesa” ( English time) meaning that they want you to be there on time.
Non-verbal communication is as important as the spoken language to fitting in with the locals. Take these examples and use them, it will make all the difference when going to Perú.
What other examples can you share from your country?
Check out these other Peru Culture articles.