A guide to friendship in Peru!
A guide to friendship in Peru!
What happens when Valentine’s day is knocking on our door during your volunteering in Peru, and there is no ¨novia¨ or ¨novio¨?
Doing volunteer work in Latin America is about cultural immersion, about learning from the Latin-American culture and the Spanish speaking world. Therefore, a cultural event or a local tradition is always a great opportunity to get immersed in the culture and to talk to the locals. So is Valentine’s Day.
Most of our volunteers in the different Latin-American countries, know Valentine’s day as giving your loved one presents, varying from bonbons to flowers to teddy bears; all heart-shaped or in the shape of cupid. In reality, this part is not much different in Latin America or Peru.
Valentine’s Day in Peru
But there are some additional ways of showing your love, on the day of love and friendship, as Valentine´s Day is called in Latin-America. Peruvians, for example, do not limit the day of love only to one person, but instead, to everyone they love: boyfriends or girlfriends, friends, and relatives. On Valentine’s Day in Peru you see groups of friends going for dinner or to a party as not only ‘love’ but also ‘friendship’ is celebrated.
Friendship in Peru
Of course, “friendship” is a culture-bounded term. In one culture you might call someone ‘a friend’ if you have known for years and years; in other cultures, however, you might call a person a friend after you have him or her the same day. So, what does friendship mean in Peru?
Peruvians like to have a lot of friends, and they make new friends easily. Does this mean that Peruvian friendships are superficial? Not at all. Peruvians have deep relationships. Most Peruvians have a group of close friends that go above and beyond for each other. Close friendships in Peru normally include more than just two people: especially for women, it is important to become a part of your friend’s family. Once you are close friends, you can expect his or her family to invite you over many times, and be treated as one of their own. Close friends show loyalty, share important moments, enjoy life together and support each other in times of need.
How to make local friends in Peru
If you are doing Volunteer work in Peru, you might find yourself in a situation where a local might become your friend. As long as you are careful with people that have “different” intentions* feel free to embrace this new friendship. Don’t forget that if you are befriending a local, they will always appreciate it if you try to speak Spanish.
(*stay far away from the so-called ‘bricheros’ . These people are only looking for foreign friends to make them fall in love with them, with the only intention to get a foreign passport through marriage as they want to leave the country as soon as possible).
If a friendship is blossoming, you can expect to be invited over and over again. If you receive an invitation from a friend, be prepared that it might not just be you and your new friend. Most of the times, you will go in a group. Peruvians like to have a lot of friends, and also, to have them around. If you are invited to someone’s home, the friendship is getting real and deeper. Also, since young people often live at home until they are married, you will be introduced to the whole family and get closer.
Don’t talk about… illness, sex, and money
But some topics are off-limits! Generally spoken we can say that you better avoid talking about illnesses, sex, and money. Mostly when you confront a Peruvian with one of these topics, you can expect him or her to giggle it off awkwardly. Referring to money, you can better underestimate your earnings, out of respect to the other. And make sure that you don’t dress to formal when you join a friend for a few drinks. It is advised to dress casually, but on the smart side and still well dressed.
Don’t forget that Peruvians are always late! However, you are expected to arrive ¨on time¨ which means something like ¨ not more than half an hour late¨. Also, keep in mind that Peruvians are not only late comers but also slow leavers, finishing a conversation can easily take up to an hour. So make sure to announce you’re leaving well ahead!
Enjoy Valentine’s Day in Peru!
Thanks to Renate Heida
Forrest, J. Porturas, J. (2006) Peru – culture smart! The essential guide to Customs and Culture – Great Britain: Kuperard