Greeting Rules

In addition to the ever intriguing cheek kiss, there appears to be even more complications with the greeting culture in Peru.

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in another teacher's classroom when her teenage daughter walked in. I was reading a magazine and the girl rushed over to her mom and began to animately describe her day. Her mom stopped her mid sentence and said, "Greet Miss Meghan." The girl rushed over to me and greeted me with a kiss.

Last week, I walked into work at 6:35am, greeted the secretary and rushed over to read the schedule. I was struggling to carry all of my books, dreading teaching so early in the morning and intently looking at the schedule. Within a few seconds, the cleaning lady waved her hand in front of me and said, "Hooolllllaaaa, Meghan. How are you?" with a slight twinge of frustration in her voice. It wasn't until much later that I realized that she was offended that I hadn't greeted her. A similar encounter like this has played out twice the same woman.

In several instances, when Alvaro and I have rushed into his house or been working intently and not greeted someone individually, we have been on the receiving end of a correctional conversation with his mom.

I finally asked him about this and he said that without a doubt, if you do not greet every single person in the room and/or house, you have just offended all who are present. It's an interesting cultural note because I am not used to such formalized greetings, especially in everyday settings with individuals I do not know very well. Though it's sightly uncomfortable, I think that my discomfort speaks to the individualized American in me that has been cultured for the past twenty three years.

What cultural differences have you encountered when it comes to greetings?