Food Culture

Smiles Make Cuzco Bright

A lovely smile of a little girls from Cuzco

There are few expressions in the world as powerful as a smile. Who could imagine something so simple, that has no cost, that could serve to give people hope, make the other person feel better automatically, generate a more pleasing environment, and a warm feeling.

A smile is a gesture that blooms from our inside. It reflects our feelings. A smile doesn’t cost anything but produces much. It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those who give. It only takes a moment, maybe just seconds, yet it can stay forever in the memory of those who receive.

Who has not had the experience of being in an interview, nervous, when suddenly the person interviewing you smiles. Suddenly we recover our confidence to continue talking. The smile breaks the ice and creates more closeness among people.

With a smile you can please others. That simple gesture, a smile, is capable of changing the order of things.

¡Give me a Smile!
¡Give me a Smile!

What happens when we go to a restaurant and the server is angry, frustrated or impatient? They show you a harsh face (mala cara). What kinds of phrases do we use, we the customers? Do we say, “What’s up with this jerk?” ”Did he fight with his wife or girlfriend?” “Do his fields not produce?” I am sure you have your own phrases. Whatever we say, we do not plan on returning to this restaurant.

But, if when we arrive, the server greets us, opens the door for us, and offers us the menu with a smile, then we feel the warmth of the place. We feel invited and are more likely to enjoy our meal and company. When we finish we leave a tip and say something like: “Good job. We will recommend you to others. The food was delicious.” In truth, the only difference may have been the smile.

For this reason, many businesses in Cuzco have learned to give importance to this gesture in the service they offer. A smile transmits security, confidence, warmth, and feeling.

How different would be the world if everyone were to smile.

The Smiling Inka Sun of Cuzco (Photo: Gabriela Filgueira)
The Smiling Inka Sun of Cuzco (Photo: Gabriela Filgueira)

So, now you know, my friends and readers. Do not ever feel too tired to give or receive a smile. That small gesture not only lifts the spirits of the person to whom it is given. That is why we should not forget the immense value of a smile and in this way make every day a very special day.

Translator’s Note: Though people talk about smiles in my culture in the US, I think there is greater importance placed on smiles and apparent happiness in Cuzco as a means of giving to and helping each other. I think one of the key ideas is the contrast between “mala cara” bad face or evil face, and “buena cara” or a good face, a pleasing face. Good words and smiles are important for social interaction in Cuzco.

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