The doors glide open and I take a few steps forward. Inside the elevator await a couple nurses and a woman. I stand quietly, watch the doors close, and take a slow breath as we move to the next level down.
We pause in motion, allowing a small family to join the space.
‘Buenas tardes,’ they greet us.
‘Buenas tardes,’ the rest respond.
It was then I regretfully realized I had forgotten the cultural norm of elevator interactions here in Colombia. Each visitor receives a greeting and a salutation, a stark difference from the silent, awkward impassive elevator experiences I’m used to in the U.S.
I reflected on this moment as we were gently carried down to the first floor. I love noticing the tiny details of cultures, those that you might not notice if you are only stopping by for a few days. Next week will mark 8 months in Medellin, and I feel like I’ve barely tapped the surface on understanding life of Colombians.
When we reached the bottom, warm words filled the air: ‘chao‘, ‘hasta luego‘, ‘feliz noche‘…