Transcription of the episode:
When I was in high school, I was a little shy. Well, not a little. I was very shy.
I was 13 or 14. I had two or three friends in the classroom and I tried to avoid contact with everybody else.
One day, one of my classmates who wasn’t my friend walked into the hall and started greeting everyone.
When she approached me, I thought she was going to walk right past me and enter the classroom, but she kissed me on the cheek and said ‘hi’ instead.
I immediately blushed. The rest of the class noticed it and they laughed.
For them, greeting each other that way was normal, but not for me. Not for a shy teenager.
It was embarrassing, I have to admit it; but over time I got used to it, and now I consider it normal. But I can understand that some people don’t really like it.
I mean, for most Ecuadorians this is normal, but when I meet people from other countries who are visiting Ecuador, I can see, for some of them, it feels kind of weird.
So, how do we Ecuadorians greet each other?
Well, it depends.
In an informal context, when there are two women or a man and a woman, I would say the most common way to greet each other is a kiss on the cheek. That’s what my classmate did back in high school.
And something that’s important to know, even though this might sound only like a way to greet people you’re close with, it is also the way to greet someone you are meeting for the first time.
If all you do in your country is just a handshake or waving your hand, I understand the Ecuadorian way might sound a bit too close. But what can I say, that’s how we say hi.
You know. Different countries, different cultures.
On the other hand, between men, the most common greetings for informal situations are, with a close friend, a type of handshake combined with a pat on the back; or a fist bump if we are friends but not that close.
And when two men are meeting for the first time, a fist bump or a handshake are the most common ways to greet each other.
That’s what we do, but, what do we say?
In informal situations, we just say “hola”, which means hello or hi, or ¿qué tal?, which means what’s up?
That’s easy to remember, right?
And of course, if we are meeting a person for the first time, we also say “mucho gusto”, which, remember, functions just like ‘nice to meet you’.
And how do we greet someone formally?
In these situations, a handshake is enough and we would say, buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon) or buenas noches (good evening). And of course, we would also say “mucho gusto” if we are meeting a person for the first time. (This phrase works in any context, formal or informal.)
To be honest, I don’t really enjoy formal situations, but sometimes we have to be part of one. So, even if you are planning to use your Spanish only with friends, you better practice the formal phrases too. You never know when they might be useful.
And well, that’s all for today.
Now you know what to expect when you meet Ecuadorians, so, if you are not used to that type of greeting, try don’t let it catch you by surprise and don’t blush like I did when I was a student.