Central America | Guatemala – A Few Cultural Observations
Ive made a few recent observations about Guatemalans Id like to share here:
1. Guatemalan men are not afraid or hesitant about asking for directions. I find this noteworthy, and refreshing, in a culture where machismo is alive and well. I explained to my Guatemalan male friend, Paul, that in the US it is a ¨”macho” thing for men to refrain from asking for directions even if it means driving around for half an hour or more lost. It is as if a man is somehow less manly or independent if he asks for directions. Paul said, ‘That is completely ridiculous!! Why would any man do that?’ I responded, ‘I have no idea. The rest of us women find it ridiculous too!’
Sometimes it is entertaining to look at our own cultural eccentricities from an objective vantage point.
2. Guatemalan men do not typically walk up to and speak to someone new, particularly a woman, unless they are first introduced through someone else. The social classes are rather defined and people acquaint themselves with people they or their friends and family know. Antigua, unlike Guatemala city, operates under different social rules because there is such an abundance of foreigners, particularly attractive young women. For this reason, there are many men who come to Antigua from the capital to go to bars as it is easier to talk to women and meet new people.
3. Guatemalan women can be cold to foreigners, especially other women, and difficult to get to know. According to my Guatemalan friends, they think many foreign girls are more liberal and because of their cultural history, are generally mistrusting of new people in general. All of my friends here in Antigua are women and men from the US or other countries, and Guatemalan men. No surprise, no Guatemalan women friends.
4. Lastly, many Guatemalans live at home with their families. They often have live in maids that do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry. They often have their meals together with lunch being the most important meal. Family is a very important part of the latin culture.
It seemed a bit sad for me to realize we are lucky in my family if we all see each together once a year, and that this is often the norm for American families.