Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in Bolivia

South AmericaBoliviaTraditions & Customs in Bolivia

In Bolivia, do not use the word “Indio” to describe indigenous people. It is considered offensive. The term they use is “campesino” which translates as “peasant” or “indigenous”. A ‘cholo’ is a campesino who has moved to the city, and although the term was originally pejorative, it is now more a symbol of indigenous power. However, some locals still use the word ‘cholo’ as a derogatory term.

Consider also the marked cultural and racial differences between the ‘cambas’ of the llanos in the east, who are white and mestizo, and the ‘collas’ of the Andes in the west, who are indigenous. The two peoples do not generally get on well and have become even more opposed in recent years, since the election of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president. Both peoples tend to defend their part of Bolivia, so that talking about your trip to the other cultural region of the country can be considered an insult. In Santa Cruz, where society is much more westernised, interaction with indigenous culture is frowned upon, while in La Paz and elsewhere the opposite is true.

It is also good to bear in mind that Bolivian culture is very warm and friendly. This means that it is very rude not to say Buen Día or Buenos Días to passers-by in the street. It is also common to give up your seat on the city bus to someone older than you or to a woman. In return, others will give up their seats for you if you look a bit older than them.