columbia etiquettes

by: katherine brooks

meeting and greeting

* Men shake hands with direct eye contact.
* While shaking hands, use the appropriate greeting for the time of day: "buenos dias" (good day), "buenas tardes" (good afternoon), or "buenas noches" (good evening/night). Women often grasp forearms rather than shaking hands.
* Once a friendship has developed, greetings become warmer and a lot more hands on - men will embrace and pat each other on the shoulder (known as an "abrazo") and women kiss once on the right cheek.
* Most Colombians have both a maternal and paternal surname and will use both.
* The father's surname is listed first and is the one used in conversation.
* Always refer to people by the appropriate honorific title and their surname.


* Wait to be seated by the host.
* Hands should be kept visible when eating.
* Do not rest elbows on the table.
* The host will say "buen provecho" (enjoy or have a good meal) as an invitation to start eating.
* It is polite to try everything you are given.
* Unusually all food is eaten with utensils - even fruit is cut into pieces with a knife and fork.
* It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
* Do not use a toothpick at the table