Say ‘Hi’ in Bogota

The Bogotano ‘hello’ comes in many versions:

‘Cómo estás?’

‘Qué tal?’

‘Cómo te va?’

‘Cómo le ha ido?’

‘Qué has hecho?’

‘Qué más?’

‘Qué me cuentas?’

‘Qué pasó?’

They all mean ‘hi, how are you?’

Well, actually the fact that Colombians have many ways to say hi doesn’t distinguish them from other nationalities.

The weird part is how these greetings are used.

The truth is, they will fire 3-4 of the above at the same time upon seeing someone they know.

When asked ‘how are you?’, you’ll most likely say ‘fine thanks. How about you?’ After that, you’re not expected to go through a detailed account of what you’ve been doing lately. It’s more like saying ‘hi’ and ‘hi’ in return.

And even if you tell them how you’re really feeling, your answer is not getting any attention. The Bogotanos will go on to ask each other ‘how are you’ with a different question (choose any of the above), and the reply will more than likely be ‘fine..’, ‘working..’ ,’busy..’, ‘rushing here and there’. Always the same. Bogotanos really always seem to be busy working. Or at least that’s what they think about. Or at least that’s what they want others to think. Or at least that’s what they deem to be socially acceptable behaviours.

Half of the time they’re not even listening to you. Imagine saying, ‘hi’, ‘hi’, ‘hi’ and ‘hi’ again. One of my theories is that when you meet up with someone and the conversation isn’t kicking off smoothly, the series of ‘hi’ is just a way to fill the empty silence..

The problem now is that it’s starting to rub off me so I’m also asking people again and again how they are, to a point where I may be getting up some foreigners’ nerves..


  1. […] most polite countries that I have ever been to, if the judgement is based on their propensity to say hi to strangers.. Wherever you go, strangers will imminently greet you, ‘buenos dias’. You get into […]

  2. […] you a big fat hug, which suggests they’re very happy to see you, and they give you the usual greetings e.g. ‘how are you?’ ‘how’s everything?’. They act as if they had never received a single […]

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