Friday, November 17, 2006

Republic of Bolivia II

Population
Bolivia's population of 8.86 million is growing at about 1.5 percent annually. About one-third of the population lives in rural areas. La Paz has more than one million people and Santa Cruz has about the same number. Nearly 70 percent of the total population is of indigenous ancestry, including Quechua (30 percent), Aymara (25 percent), Guaraní, Mojeño, Chimane, and smaller groups. Some 20 percent of the people are Criollos (or Mestizo), who are of mixed indigenous and European heritage. Another 10 percent are of European descent. Quechua Indians are prevalent throughout the country, but are especially concentrated near Cochabamba and Sucre; the Aymara are concentrated in the Altiplano, La Paz, Oruro and Potosi.
Retrieved from Bolivia's Culturegram

Gestures
Bolivians often use hands, eyes, and facial expressions to communicate. To beckon children, one waves the fingers with the palm down. Patting someone on the shoulder signifies friendship. A raised hand, palm outward and fingers extended, twisting quickly from side to side, states “There isn't any” or “no”—a gesture often used by taxi and bus drivers when their vehicles are full. Waving the index finger indicates a strong “no.” One covers the mouth when yawning or coughing. Eye contact in conversation is essential. Avoiding another's eyes shows suspicion, lack of trust, or shyness. Females are generally shy but coquette.

Visiting
Bolivians enjoy visiting one another. Both arranged and unannounced visits are common. Urban visitors generally give flowers, chocolates or small gifts to the host upon arrival. Hosts might also present visitors with gifts, which are not opened in front of the giver, unless requested. Hosts make their guests as comfortable as possible. Compliments given during the meal instead of after will bring a second helping.
Upon arrival, visitors are invited inside and offered a drink or light refreshments; refusing them is impolite, most of the soft drinks lack of ice, please request ice if you want some. It is also impolite to start a conversation on the doorstep. Visitors staying a few days are welcomed with a hug and kiss on the cheek. Hosts provide special meals as a welcoming gesture, and if possible, all family members are present to greet the guests at airports or bus stations. Guests are not asked how long they will stay, as this is interpreted as a desire to have them leave soon, they can stay as long as they want

Eating
Bolivian families eat most meals together. They typically have one large and two small meals per day. Rural families might eat four meals. Upon entering a room where people are eating, Bolivians often say Buen provecho (similar to Bon appétit). Everyone (including guests) is expected to eat everything on the plate, no leftovers please. People eat meat with utensils, not hands. Generally, one is not excused from the table until all are finished eating. It is polite to say Gracias (Thank you) to all at the table when one finishes eating and to wish them Buen provecho or provecho upon leaving. Dining out is most common at lunch. In restaurants, the host typically pays for the meal. A tip is usually left when in large groups or in a nice restaurant in the city. Chicherias bars indicated by a white flag hanging outside the establishment, serve chicha, a home-brewed alcoholic drink made from corn. Chicherias are an important meeting place, especially in the highland valley areas. Enjoy a good plate of Chicharron (Fried Pork with corn and potatoes) with some “Gaparina” (Chicha with cinnamon ice cream) on Sundays this is a family event.

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