One of the biggest differences I have found here are the manners Guatemalan's possess. I think that it was a major change that I noticed from day one, but continued to encounter from every day thereafter. For example, every day I walk 10 minutes to and from school, and I think I say buenos dias or hola at least 10 times on this trip to complete strangers! I was talking to some of my friends about this and we decided that if we were to say good morning to a stranger on the side of the road in our town we would get a strange look and either get ignored or laughed at. I've come to really enjoy starting my morning off with smiles and hola's from strangers on the side of the road who truly mean what they say.
In America, we are in such a hurry to get on with our busy schedule, that we forget to slow down and take the time to offer a smile or a friendly wave. I've found here in Antigua that to be on time means you are at least 30 minutes late if not more and that is because time isn't an issue here. If someone gets caught up talking to a friend on the side of the road when they are on the way to an appointment, the appointment can wait, but the friend can't. What if we adapted this attitude in the United States? What if we decided to stop being so uptight about meetings and appointments that we stopped to enjoy the company of someone else and possibly end up making their day a little brighter? I would love this!
I went to the store today and asked the sales person to look for a specific item for me. Not only was the item all in English, but it's a prescription that I have to get in the United States. Instead of the worker searching for 30 seconds and turning me down (like I have had happen in multiple American stores), I waited 10 minutes while the worker searched through every drawer, searched the computer system, and asked 3 other people. This kind of service made me feel really grateful for the work these people do! Even when the person could not find the prescription, he showed sincere regret and found 3 other similar products for me to look at and offered me a discount on each. What awesome customer service! With this service, I never once got upset for waiting, but rather offered a big smile and told the guy that it was no problem and I appreciated all his help. This is the kind of service that makes an impact and difference. Time wasn't an issue and the worker completed his job rather than giving up without multiple tries.
I have found myself being more polite down here because I receive politeness in return. It's a win win situation.