Taboos of Bolivia?

Hello, I'm curious to know what some of the taboos are in Bolivia. I am a strong believer that if I study the taboos of a country I tend to learn more about the country. Any contribution would help.

Thanks, Susan

Comments for Taboos of Bolivia?

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Jan 11, 2016
very nice
by: Anonymous

wow this is great post.

Nov 29, 2012
bolivian taboos
by: Anonymous

I really think talking with food in your mouth is a taboo.

Nov 28, 2012
bolivian taboos
by: Anonymous

I really think eating with your elbows on the table

Aug 07, 2012
don't ask about sexual intercourse
by: ronald

when you are talking with a woman .. don't ask to her about of sexual intercouse, that is very impolite because that things are so private,,, and you would be more that a good friend for asking that..




Oct 26, 2011
why do they kiss babys and little kids on the lips?
by: Anonymous

Someone please tell me why they kiss newborn infants on the lips? This is gross and disgusting. Do they even ask for permission before putting dirty mouth on a baby who is new to the world? No! My baby is now 1 and they still do it on front and behind my back after a year of me telling them they are not to kiss my baby on the lips. How are they so disrespectful to not care what the mother and father of the child is asking them not to do? Someone please enlighten me

Sep 13, 2009
Bolivia taboos, etiquette, trivia
by: BoliviaBella

SB - You might want to check out my pages on etiquette and trivia. You're sure to find some really interesting stuff, some of it quite funny. Some of it is taken pretty seriously and sometimes even Bolivians laugh at themselves.

Having lived in both Western and Eastern Bolivia I'd have to say you'll find Western Bolivia is a lot more socially "strict" than here in Santa Cruz.

Anyway I tend to think "when in Rome do as the Romans do" is fair. After all, we get pretty upset when foreigners do things we "differently" in our countries too.

Here are some pages you might want to check out/get some laughs from/toss in the trash when you're finished. LOL.

Social Etiquette

Dining Etiquette

Business Etiquette

Bolivia Trivia

To AJ I would say, I think there are a gadzillion places in the US and other countries where putting your bare feet up on furniture is considered pretty gross. Other than being considered socially rude I think it's more for hygienic reasons. It's more of a "gross what if he has athlete's foot" kind of thing - you know what condition your feet are in and where they've been - but others don't so it's gross to them.

But don't take my comments poorly - cuz I'm totally a barefoot-everywhere person myself - if I didn't HAVE to wear shoes I probably NEVER would. Aaaah the sacrifices we make to live in harmony with others - LOL.


Sep 13, 2009
Taboo or not taboo?
by: SB

Hi AJ,

Thank you very much for your recent comments on Taboos in Bolivia. At this time, I'm living with my husband in Santa Cruz de la Sierra teaching English at a private school. The most fun I have each day is travelling on the bus to and from work. I've only been called on one action so far, which was to stretch my arm out and wave my hand up and down to slow down traffic so that I could scoot across the road. The foreigner I was walking with told me not to do that because it causes taxi drivers to think that I am waving them down. Now I just run across the busy traffic to get to the other side.

Happy days, SB

Sep 12, 2009
Greeting and Dress Protocol Matters Much More Here
by: AJ

I have travelled and lived in many Latin countries and find Bolivians perculiarly (dare I say "anal retentive"?) about greeting and dress protocol. There is a proscribed, robotic way-- especially between men, to shake hands that involves clasping the opposite shoulder and patting it twice (not once, not thrice-- TWO times). It is hard to not be self concious about it, but I suggest learning it.

Also, regarding clothing-- if you have any doubt, err on the conservative side. Though this is not uncommon in Latin countries, what seems to me particular to Bolivia is the sense that they have been left with an atavistic, almost Victorian sense of modesty that can even be counterintuitive at times: I have been embarrassed on not just one occasion to learn that it is rather shocking to remove ones shoes in circumstances where I thought it was the polite thing to do-- in a lounge with leather ottomans I removed my shoes to place my feet up on the ottoman while reading a book and was summarily asked to put my shoes back on-- I explained that I did not want to sully the ottoman and the staff seemed puzzeled and a bit amused. They insisted I put my feet back up on the ottoman and "relax"-- but with my shoes *on*!

Also at a mass celebration with nearly a million people in the street after the Autonomy vote last year I was given a celebratory T-shirt-- mind you there are fireworks, beer, children on shoulders- pandemonium... but people were aghast when I-- a man-- began to remove my shirt to put on the t-shirt. It was suggested I find a restroom or private place instead of being bare chested for a couple of seconds changing shirts in the thronging drunken revelry... this in the country next door to the home of Mardis Gras!

So as a general rule of thumb, to put it bluntly, Bolivians can be a bit "uptight" about greetings, dress, etc. Handshakes, kisses, hats, shoes-- all those things-- just error on the side of frumpiness and shame and you'll do fine.

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