Important Colombian Greetings!
I have been practicing Colombian greetings with my two boys -- in preparation for our trip this summer. In doing so, I have remembered some very important expressions that you need to know if you plan on spending any time in Colombia. The first is a universal, and uniquely Colombian greeting:
¿Qué hubo? pronounced like one word (kyouboe)
While it literally means, "What happened?", the more frequent meaning is "How are you?" When I first went to Colombia, I recall wanted to tell people what I had been up to when asked this question. I would always respond with things like, "We went to see such and such today." After a few weeks, my husband looked at me one day and said, "You talk too much." What? I wasn't sure how to take this. Then, he said, "When someone says, '¿Qué hubo?' You just say, 'Bién.'" Okay, I could do that. So, now I will pass on this tip to you. If someone says ¿Qué Hubo? -- just answer BIEN. It's like saying, "I'm fine." in English.
Another unique Colombian expression is similar to the one above:
¿Qué más? pronounced (kay mahs)
It literally means "What more?", and like Qué hubo, people asking this question are not expecting any explanation of what you have been up to or what has happened to you. The answer to both questions is the same: BIEN.
Remember this tip and you can avoid being an overachieving talker.