High-Level Characteristics

“You must not judge people by their country,” a lady advised me. “In South America, it is always wise to judge people by their altitude.”

She was from Bolivia herself. She explained that there were fewer national characteristics than high-level characteristics. The mountain people who lived on the heights of the Andes were formal and unapproachable; the valley people were much more hospitable, and the sea-level folk were the sweetest of all, though rather idle and lazy. Someone who lived at an altitude of about four thousand feet was just about ideal, a real good scout, whether he lived in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, or wherever.

— Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express