I’m not terribly confident with my Spanish abilities. But I was pretty darn sure that “hola” means “hi” and “adiós” means “goodbye”. I felt pretty solid about that. But then I noticed that people were saying it all backwards. Kids in Mexico shouted “bye!” at us from across the street. People in Nicaragua were greeting us with “adió'” as we passed on the sidewalk.
What did it all mean? And are we silly for saying “buenas” and “hola”? Thankfully Javier, out hostel host on Ometepe Island, explained it all for us.
- Adiós is what you say when you’re passing in the street.
- Hola or Buenas is what you say when you say hello to a person that you’re going to have a conversation with.
So there you have it. If you don’t want to sound super gringo, greet people on the street with “adiós”.