Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Soy grilla, y qué?

If you don't know what a grilla is, well a pictures worth a thousand words.

That's right, a grilla is a cricket.  Or if you like a little humor in your explanations, then:

Una grilla es la esposa de un grillo
A female cricket is the wife of a male cricket

While that's really funny, it's not the definition we're looking for.  We're going to talk about what this word means in Colombia, where it can take on an entirely meaning.

First things first.  The term grilla applies to a woman, and not in a very nice way.   In fact, there are several definitions of what a grilla is in Colombia, so with that said, let's get to it and find out exactly what a grilla is. 

The simplest definition of a grilla is una fea (an unattractive woman).

A grilla could also refer to a woman who comes from a lower income neighborhood, is very promiscuous,  and has little class or education.  For those of you who understand the term, "hoodrat" seems to be an equivalent English word.

The term grilla can also apply to any woman who likes to "show off her goods".  In other words, her wardrobe leaves nothing (or very little) to the imagination.  A very provocative dresser.  

Grilla also applies to a woman who never turns down an invitation from a guy to go out to eat or party.  And of course he's paying the bill.  To make things worse, she may also invite her friends, at his expense of course.  And guys, if you haven't figured this out yet, she has zero interest in you, you're just a wallet to her.

Here's a video that does a great job of explaining this definition of grilla.  It's in Spanish, but if you're still fine tuning those Spanish ears, don't worry, it has English subtitles.  It's only 2:33 long, and personally, I got a good laugh out of it.

The video is below, but if for some reason you don't see it here's the link:

And that brings to the final definition of grilla, a woman who's sole motive is to find a man to maintain her. 

Married or single, as long as he can keep money in her bank account, pay her bills, drive her around in a nice car, give her credit or debit cards, take her out on dates, she's a happy woman.   I think the English word that applies here is gold digger.  

So I think by now you should have a pretty good idea of what grilla means in Colombia.   And just so you know, those definitions are not mutually exclusive.  A woman could fit several of them.

As for the origin of the word grilla, the terms popularity came from it's use in the telenovela El Cartel de Los Sapos.  At least that's what I've read. 

Let's look at a few more related terms before we wrap things up.

Remember the poor guy that had to pay for a night with la grilla and her friends that I mentioned above?  Well, that guy is called a marrano, and in standard Spanish it means pig.

Here's another fun video, but this it's about marranos.  If you don't see the video below, here's the direct link:

Hopefully you got a laugh out of the video.  I certainly did, but then again I've watched that scene play out on numerous occasions so I can identify.  Luckily I was never a marrano.

A grillera would be a woman that likes to date unattractive men.

A grillero is a guy who likes to pick up or date grillas, and in this case I'm primarily referring to the definition of a grilla being an unattractive woman.   Although it also includes women looking to be wined and dined by a marrano sapiens. 

If you didn't watch the second video, a marrano sapiens is a guy who knows he's a marrano, but he also knows he's going to get a full return on his investment at the end of the night.  I'm going to guess you can figure out what I mean by that.

Let's move on to the last thing.

There are men who find the idea of dating grillas agreeable, no matter what type of grilla she is.  But ¿Quién soy yo para juzgar? The act of dating grillas is called grillar.  Apparently this happens often enough to have it's own verb.

And that's it.  Guys, don't say I didn't warn you!

Sunday, June 16, 2019


They make such a beautiful pareja (couple) don't they? 

If you've never heard the word conquistado, it comes from the verb conquistar and it means "conquered".    But the literal translation doesn't exactly apply for our purposes.  You'll know what it means for our purposes by the end of this post.  For now let's start off by talking about the verb conquistar.

Te voy a conquistar
I'm going to conquer you

This sounds like a threat.  In fact, your Spanish dictionary says the word conquistar means to conquer, and it's right.  But if you're thinking that this translation just doesn't seem appropriate, you're correct.   With that said, the verb conquistar has another usage that you might find surprising.

When it comes to sweeping someone off their feet, conquistar takes on the meaning "to win someone over". 

Let's take another look at our sentence:

Te voy a conquistar
I'm going to win you over

That translation sounds way better for our love birds.   Here's another example:

Te estoy mirando a los ojos para conquistarte
I'm looking into your eyes to win you over

Let's take a look at some vocabulary that you need to help you conquistar someone.

First you need to ligar (hook up) with someone.

Ligar or ligarse  means to hook up, and just like in English it can mean meeting someone for the first time, going on a date with that special someone or even a sexual encounter.  Context is everything.   You also need to make sure you know how it's used  by the person you're talking to.  Each country or region within a country may have a slightly different view on what it means. 

Quiero ligarme a esa chica
I want to hook up with that girl

Quiero ligar con ese chico
I want to hook up with that guy

Pedro se ligó a María
Pedro hooked up with María

Esta noche voy a ligar
I'm going to hook up tonight

By the way, as grammatical side note, it's ligarse a and ligar con.

But enough about grammar, let's get back on track, because I don't think Spanish grammar has ever helped anyone make a love connection.

When you're trying to ligar, make sure you have you best piropos ready, you'll need them to romper el hielo - break the ice.

¿Qué digo para romper el hielo con una chica?
What do I say to break the ice with a girl?

Rompí el hielo con un buen chiste
I broke the ice with a good joke

Let's talk about piropos.   What's a piropo you ask?

Think of a piropo as a pick-up line in this context, but in reality there are many types of piropos - romantícos, groseros and graciosos (romantic, rude and funny).    Take a look at the post I wrote on piropos, tantas curvas y yo sin frenos.  If you're trying to make a good impression, then I recommend using a romantic piropo.

And it won't hurt to tener pegueTener pegue means to have sex appeal or charm.   I wrote about this expression too.  Click HERE to read about it.

Let's get back to conquistando that special someone.

Being a coqueta or coqueto might be helpful.   A coqueto or coqueta is a flirt, and the act of flirting is coquetear.

¿Estás coqueteando comigo? 
Are you flirting with me?

Soy coqueto
I'm a flirt

No seas coqueta
Don't be a flirt

I'm not a flirt, they flirt with me

Now that you've been a bit of a flirt, used your piropos to help you ligar with someone, it's time to salir con alguien - to date or go out with someone. 

Salgo con María
I'm going out with Mary

 ¿Estás saliendo con alguien?
Are you going out with anyone?

A date by the way, is called a cita.  And yes, it also means appointment.

 And sometimes you're not so much going out with someone, but rather you're friends with benefits.

Amigos con derechos or amigos con beneficios

But let's just say things are going well with your relación (relationship).  At some point you might feel like you've found your alma gemela (soul mate), and start to start feel like your pareja (partner) is your media naranja.

If you're thinking your media naranja is an orange sock or half an orange well I can't blame you, because your translator is probably telling you that's what it means.  But it's actually a way to say that person is your better half.

If things don't work out with your media naranja, then you can romper con  or cortar con with them.

Rompí con mi novio ayer
I broke up with my boyfriend yesterday

Corté con mi novia
I broke up with my girlfriend

Susana rompió con Javier
Susana broke up with Javier

 If later on you decide that breaking up was a mistake, then you'll need to reconquistar a or  recuparar a your ex.

And that's it.

If you picked the right place to ligar, used your best piropos to romper el hielo and done everything right, then you may be lucky enough to hear that special someone tell you they've been  "Conquistado!"

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Voy a mi arbolito

Surprisingly, the only thing anyone ever teaches about the bathroom in Spanish is how to ask where one is.

¿Donde está el baño?
Where's the bathroom?

While that's helpful, it won't take long to figure out that your Spanish teacher really let you down in the bathroom department.  I didn't realize how terrible my bathroom Spanish was (actually I didn't realize I even needed bathroom Spanish) until I ran into toilet issues in a few hotels.

We'll start off by talking about how to tell people you need to go in the first place.

Tener ganas de ir al baño means you've got the urge.  In other words, you've realized you need to go.  You may not actually go at that moment, but you know you need to.  And for some reason you decide you want to share it publicly.

Tengo ganas de ir al baño
I have to go to the bathroom

Tengo ganas de hacer el numero uno
I have to go do a number one

Now, when you can't fight off those urges anymore you need the expression aguantar las ganas de ir al baño.

No aguanto más las ganas de ir al baño
I can't hold the urge to go to the bathroom anymore

You can shorten that to

No aguanto más
I can't hold it anymore

No puedo más.  Tengo que ir al baño.  I can't hold it any longer.  I have to go to the bathroom.

Let's move on and talk about what you can say when you're actually getting up and going to the bathroom.

Tengo que ir al baño
I have to go to the bathroom

Voy al baño
I'm going to the bathroom

Necesito ir al baño
I need to go to the bathroom

You've probably heard all of the those and they definitely need to be in your Spanish tool box.  In fact, that's really all you need.  But where's the fun in that?

Let's look at a few other ways of saying you're going to the bathroom.   I think this is where some people would say we're approaching the line of TMI - Too Much Information or demaisiado información.

Just like in English, in Spanish you can say you have to go number one or number two.

Voy a hacer del uno
I gotta go number one

Voy a hacer del dos
 I gotta go number two

Yeah, definitely too much information.  But let's keep going anyway.  I'm not sure if this going to get better or worse.

The next set of  options are generally used with and by children.  You can use them  with adults too, it just might come off a little weird.   No more weird than using their English counterparts I suppose.

Voy a hacer pis
I'm going to pee

Yeah, I know, pis makes you think of piss, which of course is a bit crude in English, but they aren't the same.  It's okay to say pis in Spanish, there's another word in Spanish for to say "to piss", which is mear.    Of course, you can use the word pipí to avoid the problem altogether and eliminate the uncomfortable paranoia that you're telling people you're going to take a piss. 

Geez, is this as awkward for you as it is for me? Anyway, moving right along....

Voy a hacer pipí
I going to pee

Voy a hacer caca
I'm going to take a poo

You can also use the word poó  

Voy a hacer poó
I'm going to go poo

Tengo que hacer pipí
I have to go pee

If you want to sound more natural and cool without all the awkwardness and childish language, here are a couple of informal expressions.

The first I'm going to mention is

Voy a hacer mis necesidades

Sorry guys, I'm still looking for a good translation for this one, but it implies you're going to take a number 2.

Voy a echar una firma
I'm going to go sign my name

Clearly as a literal translation that doesn't work, and at the moment a good English equivalent doesn't come to mind.  If you have one leave it in the comments.

Just remember this an informal way of saying you have to go the bathroom (and pee, specifically), and will likely get a laugh out of your Spanish amigos.  By the way, this one probably doesn't work for women.

Voy al trono
I'm going to the throne

That one probably works better when you're in your own home.

Voy a mi arbolito
I'm going to my little tree

I would say this is the equivalent of "I'm going to go water the plants" in English.

Ladies, you'll like this one.

Voy al tocador, no tardo mucho
I'm going to the powder room, I won't be long

While powder room may sound a bit formal or old-fashioned in English, it's perfectly fine in Spanish.

By the way, a tocador  can  also be a vanity.

Or it can be a dresser, with or without a mirror:

While the informal stuff is always more fun, I feel like we need to take a quick look at a couple of more formal terms.  I want to you know what these mean, but you would probably sound weird using them.

Orinar means to urinate.  While this is the correct term, you probably won't hear it much outside of the doctors office.

Voy a orinar
I'm going to urinate

Defecar means to defecate.  Again, just like in English, you very like won't hear this outside of the doctor's office.

Voy a defecar
I'm going to defecate

Okay, now you know how to tell people you have to respond to nature's call. It's time to move on to everything else.  Like when  el baño isn't always called a baño.

Here are a few other terms for bathroom in Spanish - serviciosaseos or sanitarios.  You'll see these out in public.  Oh, there's one other term, cagadera.

This is a related post I made back in 2012, but it's not for the politically correct or for those who don't like bad words.  However, if you're ok with those things, then you should read my post to find out what cagadera means in Spanish.

Let's talk about some bathroom related vocabulary no one's probably ever bothered to teach you.

The toilet can go by several names - taza, inodoro, retrete, váter. Váter is more of Spain thing.  I've never seen it in my Latin America travels.

The toilet seat is called tapa de inodoro or tapa de retrete.   A urinal is called orinal.

Toilet paper is papel de baño, papel sanitario or papel higienico.  You can also just refer to it as papel.

A roll of toilet paper is a rollo de papel, and they are sold as paquetes.

Un paquete de cuatro rollo de papel
A four pack of toilet paper

You can buy un  rollo de hoja sencilla, hoja doble or hoja triple - a single, double or triple ply roll.

Oh, before I forget.  There's one very important thing travelers to Spanish speaking countries need to know about.

During your travels you may see a sign the reads something like this:

Don't throw toilet paper or paper towels 
in the toilet, use the trash can

Yes, you're reading that correctly.

Once you're done "tidying up", don't throw your toilet paper in the toilet.  I know what you're thinking..."ewww, that's disgusting"  and "why not?".

Some places in Mexico and Latin America have very old and narrow pipes that clog up easily.  So the solution is to throw your used papel in the bote (trash can) right next to the toilet.  The good news is I haven't seen this very often, but I also typically travel to big and very modern cities.  If you're visiting older and more rural cities that still have the plumbing of old, you may run into this.

Ok, now let's talk about flushing the toilet.

There are a couple of ways to skin this cat.

Bajar el agua,  Tirar la cadena, Dar la llave, Bajar la palanca

There are probably more ways to say it, but these are very common and the only ones I remember at the moment.

Por favor jalele al baño
Please flush the toilet

Bájale al inodoro
Flush the toilet

All of these are examples of how you ask someone if they flushed the toilet:

Did you flush the toilet?

¿Ya le jalaste (el baño)?
¿Ya la diste la llave?
¿Tiraste la cadena?
¿Bajaste la palanca?

So now let's talk about what happens when you bajar el agua but it just won't work. 

This may not seem all that important at the moment, but when the toilet in your hotel room doesn't flush you'll be glad I taught you this.  I had to learn this and a lot of other bathroom talk on the spot because of faulty toilets.

El agua del inodoro no baja
The toilet won't flush

And you'll need this one if the toilet gets clogged up.

El inodoro esta tapado
The toilets clogged up

You can also substitute tapado with the words obstruido or atascado to say the toilets clogged (or stopped up) in Spanish.

Wow, we're finally about to wrap this up.  I'm going to leave you a just a few more terms for things you'll find in a bathroom.

The sink is el lavabo or el lavamanos

The bathtub is called la tina or la bañera

The shower is la regadera or la ducha

And the last thing I'll leave you with is another bathroom related post I wrote that's actually pretty interesting.  Your Spanish book and probably Spanish teacher told you ducharse means to take a shower,  and they would be right, but they also left out some extremely important details.

Learn how most Spanish speakers really say to take a shower in Spanish.

And that's it!

Hasta la próxima

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Me fui pa' Chepe

I've been traveling again, and this time I headed back to Costa Rica.  I had some unfinished tourism there.  That and my wife told me that's where we were spending our vacation.

The good news is this time around I was really able to explore a bit more of the country and picked up on quite a bit more Spanish as well.

Let's jump right into things.

I'm going to share the Costa Rican slang that I picked up, so let's start off with the word pachuco.

So what does pachuco (or pachuca) mean in Costa Rica?

Pachuco is nothing more than the name for Costa Rican slang.  Well, ok, I'm over simplifying it a bit, but for the purposes of this blog post, understanding that the word pachuco refers to the slang specifically spoken in Costa Rica is good enough.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about some actual pachuco terms.

I stayed in the city of Chepe.   What's that?  You don't see it on the map?  Well, that's because chepe  is the nickname for the capital city of Costa Rica, which happens to be San José.

Me fui pa' Chepe 
I went to San Jose

Voy en camino pa' Chepe. Vamos a ver que tanta presa habrá
I'm on my way to San Jose.  We'll see how much traffic there's going to be

By the way, that pa'  is short for para.

You can find the sign above on Avenida Central in San José,  and if you're wondering, SJO is the airport code for the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría in Chepe.

Here's another word I found interesting.


Tucas are logs, as in trees that have been cut down.

But I'm sure that my faithful readers already know I didn't post that term because I find cut down trees interesting.  However, I will say that the word tucas may only carry that meaning in Costa Rica.

Now let's look at the definition of the word tucas that qualifies it for this blog.

In Costa Rican Spanish tucas means legs,  especially if they're a pair of good looking legs.

¡Qué tucas tiene esa mujer!
That woman's got some nice legs!

You can use the word tucas to refer to men or women, like your buddy the body builder who has legs like tree stumps.  But more than likely you'll hear this used to refer to a woman with nice legs.

¡Que tucas tienes huevon!
You got some legs on you dude

By the way, be careful with the word huevón.  I translated it as dude, but it's actually one of those bad words that you can use to refer to someone you have a really good relationship with.  So if you're not best buddies or you're not absolutely positive the person you're talking to won't take offense,  I suggest you use that one with caution.  You may also see it spelled as guevón.

Tucas is a very informal word, so keep that in mind while your chatting with your Costa Rican pals.

While I've been to Costa Rica a few times, this is the first time I've noticed the usage of the verb ocuparTicos use the verb ocupar as a synonym of the verb necesitar.   I've run into this in Mexico as well.

Let's take a closer look.

No ocupo nada
I don't need anything

¿Se ocupa algo?
Do you need anything?

Si ocupas ir al baño vas a necesitar la llave
If you need to go the bathroom you're going to need the key

¿Un cajero ocupa?
You need an ATM ?

By the way, cajero is short for cajero automatico.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I wrote about how to use an ATM in Spanish a while back.   recommend you read it, it's called Marque su pin.

Did you notice the word ticos a few sentences back?  If you don't know what a tico is, let me explain.

A tico is a person from Costa Rica.  A guy from Costa Rica to be exact.  A woman from Costa Rica would be a tica.  If you're looking for a more formal word to describe someone from Costa Rica then you want the word Costarricense which is the official term for a person from Costa Rica.

¿Eres tico?
Are you Costa Rican?

Soy más tico que el gallo pinto
I'm more Costa Rican than a spotted rooster

Well, that last one doesn't make a lot of sense does it?  What does a spotted rooster have to do with being Costa Rican? 

First things first.  When you hear someone in Costa Rica talk about gallo pinto, more then likely they aren't referring to a spotted rooster, but rather a very traditional Costa Rican dish.  In fact, it's considered the national dish.

A traditional gallo pinto might look something like this:

I love a good plate of rice and beans, so you can't keep me away from gallo pinto when I'm in Costa Rica.

Ok, let's switch gears completely.

This may come as a surprise, but Chepe has it's share of traffic as well.  Let's learn a little about how to talk about traffic in Costa Rica like a real tico.

Presa is the de facto word ticos use for traffic.   In fact, there are actually at least 7 Ways to say traffic in Spanish, but for now let's take a look at a very Costa Rican expression.  Well, two of them to be exact.

Chupar presa and comer presa.

Comer presa  literally means to eat traffic.   And chupar presa means to suck traffic.  Clearly the literal translations don't do us any good.

Let's look at some examples.

Si va por ahi se va a chupar toda la presa
If you go that way you're going hit all the traffic

Se va a comer toda la presa
You're going to run into all the traffic

You can also say something a little less slangy like:

¿Hay mucha presa?
Is there a lot of traffic?

Toss those phrases around and you're going to raise more than a few eyebrows because now you're sounding super tico.

Let's keep going.

I saw a few zaguates running around the streets of San José.  And if you have no clue what a zaguate is, don't feel bad, I didn't know either.

Zaguates are stray dogs or dogs that are not pure breed.  Apparently ticos have a love of dogs because they have a few pieces of artwork dedicated to zaguates on Avenida Central.   By the way, Avenida Central is the main street in downtown Chepe.

Here's another word I found interesting that you'll definitely need to know if you're chatting with the locals.

¿Hay campos?

A campo in Costa Rica can refer to a place to sit, like an empty seat.  I went to the cine (movies) and the person working the counter told me:

Todavía hay campos
There are still seats

Honestly, that took me by surprise.  If they hadn't showed me the seating chart, I would have been at a complete loss.  It actually wasn't until a day or two later when a friend filled me in on the use of the word campo and then I was finally able to put it all together.

Here's one last example:

No hay campos
There are no seats

You can also safely translate that as "there's no place to sit".

Another interesting phrase I picked up is a cachete.  So what does a cachete mean?  Here are some examples.

¿Cómo estás? A cachete mae
How are you?  It's all good

In this context, a cachete could also be translated as awesome or great.  But why hear it from me when you can hear it first hand from a tico?

If you can't see the video, here's the direct link:

A Cachete | Tico Slang from Brett Campbell on Vimeo.

Here are a few more examples.

¿Cómo te fue en el examen?  ¡A cachete! 
How did you do on the exam?  Great!

Este carro está a cachete mae
This car is awesome dude

The other context I heard a cachete in had to do with food.

My amiga ordered something or another, I don't recall exactly what it was, and when the waitress asked what she wanted on it, she replied:

a cachete
With everything

Con todo would be a more neutral way to respond.

Wow, we've talked about a lot of stuff.  I'm going to cover one more thing and then we'll get this wrapped up.

I did a little shopping while I was in Chepe and there were a couple of things that jumped out at me.

While I was looking at a few shirts the attendant said to me:

Puede medirselo
You can try it on

I'm accustomed to using and hearing the verb probarse to talk about trying on clothes, but apparently medirse works as well.

¿Me lo puedo probar?
Can I try it on?

¿Me lo puedo medir?
Can I try it on?

I was in search of a camisa de la sele.  The sele is the short way of referring to the national soccer team of Costa Rica,   La Selección de Fútbol de Costa Rica.   Now you know why it's simply referred to as la sele.

Camisa just means shirt.   So a camisa de la sele refers to a soccer jersey of the national soccer team.

Add a few more inches around the middle and I look just as good in my camisa de la sele as the mannequin does.

Finding my camisa de la sele was no easy task.  Well, not for someone who doesn't want to pay full retail for an official jersey.  I was looking for a quality knock off at a reasonable price.  And for that I had to find una china.

Una china is una tienda de chinos, or as we would say, a Chinese store.   They're everywhere in downtown Chepe.  It took a bit of searching but I finally got my camisa de la sele.

And with that we're finally done.  Now you're ready to impress some folks with your Costa Rican Spanish.

If you want or need to learn more Costa Rican slang, I found these lessons on Costa Rican Spanish to be of great help.  They do a great job of zeroing in on the most common terms.  You can also find several books on Costa Rican slang at Amazon.

I've got a few more things to share about my trip, so stay tuned for more!  You can also read my other posts on Costa Rican Spanish.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Cali es Cali, lo demás es loma

If you missed it you might enjoy reading my first post about my visit to Cali, Colombia, No des papaya.  I talked about all of the cool new Spanish I picked up while I was there.  In today's post I'm going to share my experiences with the city itself.

Let's jump right into it.

One thing I should mention is that Cali is short for Santiago de Cali, which is in the Valle de Cauca.

You may not know this, but Cali has been proclaimed itself the Salsa capital of the world.  And by Salsa I mean the dance, not the condiment.   I would say the city has good reason to make that claim.

You hear Salsa music playing everywhere in Cali.  In the streets, in the bars and night clubs, in stores, in restaurants, in taxis, in cars driving by, on the radio, you can't avoid it.  I mean you literally hear Salsa being played everywhere.  

But they don't just dance Salsa, they dance Salsa Caleña.  Often referred to as Colombian Salsa.  

If you dance Salsa or have seen people dancing Salsa, it was most likely Cuban, Puerto Rican or New York style Salsa.  But Salsa Caleña is a different animal.  It's famous for it's fancy foot work.  Here are 47 seconds of the amazing foot work Salsa Caleña is known for:

If you can't see the video, here's the direct link:

I actually took a Salsa lesson when I was there.  When in Rome, right?  

There is no shortage of Salsa schools in Cali.  They're practically on every corner.  I read an article that said there are around 200 Salsa schools in Cali.

But let's move on, there's a lot more to do in Cali than dance Salsa.

One of the must see attractions in Cali is the Cristo Rey.  It's a smaller, but equally impressive copy  of the Brazilian version.

It's absolutely amazing to see it up close and personal.  Here's one more picture for you:

Up next is the parque de gatos.  I really enjoyed visiting this park, which is ironic because I'm not a cat person.

The cats are known as Los Gatos de Tejada.  Or more affectionately as los gatos.   The park contains numerous sculptures of cats that represent various things, each gato has a sign that tells the story of what it represents.  Here a few of my favorites.  Google "parque de gatos cali" and you'll find pictures of nearly all of the cats.

Here's an interesting cultural note about Cali that won't go unnoticed while you're there.  I found it to be rather surprising and I suspect you will too.  

You see, Cali is not just the capital of Salsa, it's also known for being home of some of the most beautiful women in Colombia.  Not to mention the capital of plastic surgery.  

And when I say plastic surgery, yes, I'm referring aumentos de gluteos y senos.  And of course lipo, or liposución.

Aumentos de gluteos y senos
Butt and breast augmentations

Many women choose to get plastic surgery, it's commonplace.  Rumor has it that even girls as young as 15 will get surgery as a quiseñera present if they come from families that can afford it.   And compared to the US, plastic surgery is cheap there.  In fact, it's cheap all throughout Colombia.

But wait, I'm not done yet.  That isn't the part I found surprising.  

Like anywhere else in the world, Colombia uses mannequins to sell clothes.

Did you notice anything unusual about those mannequins?  If you didn't let me help you out.

And you'll see it on the "flip" side as well.

Yep, the culture of cirugía plastica extends to mannequins as well.  Apparently "bigger is better" in Cali. 

Let's move on.

Cali is also known for it's night life.  I mean, how could a city that claims to be the Salsa capital of the world not be famous for it's night life?  Tin Tin Deo is a well known place to go Salsa dancing.

I'd be irresponsible if I didn't teach you the proper lingo to talk about going partying in Colombia.

You might think that in Colombia you ir de fiesta (to go partying) but instead you ir de rumba.  It means the same thing, but you want to sound like a real Colombian, so use ir de rumba.

If you like to party, you're a rumbero or rumbera.   Rumbear is another way to say you're going to go partying.

Remember I said that Cali is the (self-proclaimed) Salsa capital of the world?   Well, if you're the type who loves Salsa music and likes to dance Salsa, then you're a salsero

Now, what's a night out on the town without a few drinks?

If you're a rum drinker, you may want to try one of Colombia's very own rums.

I've never been the one to "pop bottles" in the club, but you can order a bottle of Ron de Caldas for about $30 in the discos and have a good time.  For that price my friends and I hicimos una vaca and  didn't hesitate to pop a few bottles. 

Interestingly enough, your bottle of rum is served with a pitcher of water that has fresh limes squeezed in it that serves as your chaser as opposed to mixing it with Coke.   

Let me explain what hicimos una vaca means.

The expression is hacer una vaca and it means you and your friends pool money together to pay for something.  In this case it was a bottle of Ron de Caldas, but it could be for anything.

Ok, enough about partying.  It's time to explain the title of this post.

Cali es Cali, lo demás es loma 

First of all, loma means hill.  Geographically Cali sits in a Valley and is therefore pretty much flat.  So if we translate this literally it's something like

Cali es Cali, lo demás es loma 
Cali is Cali, the rest is hills

Not impressive right?  Let's translate this again with the real spirit of the expression.

Cali es Cali, lo demás es loma 
Cali is the best city in the world

I don't know about that, but I do know it's time for me to wrap this post up. 

I spent 8 days in Cali and really enjoyed it.  This post really doesn't do the town justice, but it should be enough to give you a glimpse of the city and a tiny slice of the culture in Cali. 

Have you been to Cali? What did you think of the city?  Leave a comment down below and share your opinions and experiences. 

¡Hasta la próxima!

Monday, November 27, 2017

No des papaya

Just a few weeks ago I was back in Colombia, but this time I traveled to the city of Cali.

If you don't know where Cali is, here's a map of Colombia:

Don't feel bad, I didn't know exactly where it was either.  Now that we've oriented ourselves, let's jump right into the good stuff, the Spanish.  We'll leave the tourist attractions for the next post.

We'll start with what was perhaps the most surprising thing to me about Cali.  The traffic.

Cali, like many other cities in Central and South America is extremely congested and rush hour lasts for a lot more than an hour.

The good news is that gave it me more than enough time to talk to cab drivers about the amount of tráfico there.

Except they didn't use the word tráfico, instead you're going to hear the word tráncon

En la avenida 19 hay trancón
There's a traffic jam on 19th avenue

No, yo no voy para allá y hay mucho trancón
No, I'm not going over there because there's a lot of traffic

Hay mucho trancón y mucho accidente
There's a lot of traffic and a lot of accidents

By the way, you can refer to rush hour as la hora pico.  And the word trancón is used throughout Colombia and Central America, so your Spanish will get a lot of mileage out of this one.

One other interesting thing about traffic in Cali, Medellín, and I imagine most of Colombia, is that lots of people ride motorcycles or scooters.  The word for motorcycles  in Spanish is motocicleta, but you'll just hear them referred to as motos.

There is one advantage to riding a moto as your primary form of transportation, it allows you to beat the traffic.   People ride in between the cars and zig-zaging in and out lanes.

They do it so much in fact, that you'll see street signs discouraging it.

Yes, you read that correctly.  No Zigzaguear.  I laughed when I saw it.   I was thinking, "You've got to be kidding".   But as it turns out zigzaguear is an official word in the Spanish dictionary.  You can read about it in Wordreference.   It's not only an official word, it's fairly common in other countries too.

This next one is a fun word.  Cuchibarbi.

So what does cuchibarbi mean?  I can sum it up pretty easily in English with one word, milf.   Although cuchibarbi isn't considered vulgar as is it's English counterpart.  And cuchibarbi appears to be uniquely Colombian.

But to be more specific and to explain things a little better for those of you who aren't familiar with the term milf, a cuchibarbi is an older woman, typically 35+, that's still very attractive and dresses as if she were still in her 20's, provacatively  with short skirts (minifaldas) and plunging necklines (escote).  She may or may not have  had a bit (or a lot) of plastic surgery.  And she may or may not have kids.

The word is a combination of the word cucha, meaning vieja, which is a way of referring to an older woman (potentially disrespectfully) and Barbie, like the doll.  Don't ask me how cucha becomes cuchi, because I have no idea.

Mira esa cuchibarbi, que buena esta!
Look at that milf, she's hot

Miren la faldita que se puso hoy la cuchibarbi
Look at that tiny skirt the milf put on today

Remember that even though I translated cuchibarbi as milf, it isn't as vulgar.  I could've also said "older woman".   And in the second example you see "la" cuchibarbi, because they're referring to a particular woman, as opposed to just any cuchibarbi.

Another fun word I learned was mecatos.   Mecatos are snacks, or to be more specific, junk food.

Another expression I heard on several occasions is "en bombas".  It means you need to do something or go somewhere really quickly,

Traigame ese libro en bombas
Bring me that book right away

Voy en bombas y ya regreso
I'm going really quickly and I'll be right back

Me voy en bombas y cuando llego a la oficina, oh sorpresa, no hay parqueadero
I leave in a hurry and when I get to the office, surprise, there's no parking available

I made some time to go to downtown Cali (el centro) to do some shopping.   One of the things I noticed is that there are signs everywhere that read "Remate".

What is a remate?  A sale, but not just any sale.  It's a killer sale with steep discounts.

Next let me talk about some of the words I heard people using to address each other while I was out and about in the streets.

First up is the term pana.  So what does pana mean?  Pana is a way of referring to a good friend.

Miguel es mi pana
Miguel is my homeboy

Ok, maybe homeboy is a bit too informal (but then again maybe not) but you get the idea.   You'll hear this word used in Venezuela too.

You can also use it as an informal but affectionate way to refer to someone, like when you want to get their attention.  In this case it's like saying friend, dude, sweetie.  I wouldn't say there's an exact translation, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly after hearing it a few times.

Disculpe pana, me puedes decir la hora?
Excuse me dude, can you tell me the time?

¿Cómo estás mi pana?
How are you my friend?

Ayer estuve con unos panas 
I was with my a few of my buddies yesterday

The words nene and nena convey the same meaning.

Disculpe nena, ¿me ayudas?
Excuse me sweetie, can you help me?

And just like pana, nene (for guys) and nena (for girls) are used in Venezuela.

Mi reina (my queen) is another attention getter I heard.  Guys, you can also use this one to address to affectionately address that cute girl you just met or have been dating.  Or married.

I overheard a conversation with a couple of ladies from Venezuela and they used the word marica to refer to each other.   Men can use this term in the same fashion as well.  It's very much a Colombian and Venezuelan thing, but you need to be careful with it because it's also a derogatory term for homosexuals.  In fact,  in most of the Spanish speaking world it only carries the derogatory meaning.

Here's a little bit more Venezuela Spanish I heard, chamo and chama.  You can use it as an informal and affectionate way to refer to people as well. 

One thing you won't find in Colombia is una famarcia.  Not because they don't exist, but because a farmacia in Colombia is called a droguería.  By the way, both of those words mean pharmacy in English.

I certainly heard my fair share of Colombian swear words in Cali, but you can read about those in my other blog, No Seas Pelangoche.  That blog is dedicated to the really fun stuff, swear words.  Or as I like to call them, sentence enhancers.   Right now I'm only going to share a couple of words to help you avoid swearing in Colombia.

If you want to avoid saying jueputa (think SOB), then you can say juepucha or juemadre instead.  They're very mild words that you can use anytime you'd say something like darn it or son of a gun.

And finally we get to the title of this post.

No des papaya

So what does no des papaya mean?  On the off chance you're never heard of a papaya, it's fruit.

Now that we know that we can make a translation, or at least attempt to.

No des papaya
Don't give  papaya

Well, that wasn't exactly helpful was it?  Let me stop teasing you and ir al grano (get to the point).

No des papaya is something you will hear over and over again in Colombia, and it means to not give someone an opportunity to take advantage of you.  Like by walking around with your brand new iPhone in your hand taking pictures and talking on the phone. 

If your Colombian friends or sometimes even complete strangers see you doing things that will potentially make you a victim of crime , they will say this to you.   Especially with cell phones. 

As Americans we're very accustomed to walking around and doing whatever we please with our cell phones without any real fear of having them snatched out our hands.   But be advised (as I have been numerous times) don't walk around with your cell phone out in the streets of Colombia, or at least not in the bigger cities with higher crime rates.  Step into a store, restaurant or any place that gets you off the streets before using your phone.  Remember,  No des papaya.

And finally we get to a bit of Spanish that actually took me by surprise.   I was checking out of my hotel and said:

Estoy listo para dejar la habitación
I'm ready to check out

Or literally, leave the room.

To which the gentleman replied:

¿Quiere entregar la habitación?
Do you want to check out?

Technically, entregar means to hand over or deliver something, but apparently you can entregar a hotel room as well.   So far I've only heard this in Colombia, but if you've heard it somewhere else, please, leave a comment below.

If you want to learn more about checking in and out of hotel rooms, check out my post:

¿A qué hora es la hora de entrada?

You can also download my list of 54 Spanish Hotel phrases for travelers, for free of course.

And finally, I think that about wraps it up.

I recommend you try out some of these words on your travels and/or your Colombian friends.  They will surely be impressed with your new found knowledge.

If you enjoyed this post, this isn't my first encounter with Colombian Spanish, so here are the links to the other posts I've written about Colombian Spanish.

¿De tela o chócolo?

¿Quiubo parcero?

¿Hola bebé qué más pues?

And lastly, if you want to learn more about Colombian Spanish, I highly recommend an ebook appropriately titled Colombian Spanish.  It's actually a great book and goes well beyond teaching you Colombian slang.  It offers some great advice on how speak more like a native and less like a gringo, and touches on Colombian culture  as well.   I was extremely hesitant to buy it because my bookshelf was already overflowing with Spanish books, but I'm glad I did.

Stay tuned as I've got several more posts lined up to share the rest of my adventures in Cali with you all!

¡Ojalá que les sirva!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Qué pichudo mae

Today we're going to look at a thank you note for a wedding gift I gave to my tico friend that just recently got married.  By the way, if you're wondering what the word tico means, it's an apodo (nick name) for the people of Costa Rica, or costarricenses.  And tica would be used for a woman.

He knows how much I love learning colloquial Spanish so he wrote the thank you note in pure Costa Rican slang.  Needless to say translating it kept me busy for several hours and I enjoyed every minute of it.   This little note certainly put my Spanish skills to the test.

I thought you all would enjoy the Spanish I learned, especially since I've already done all the hard work.

We're going to take a close look at this card, so here it is.

I'm not sure what was harder, deciphering his handwriting or the slang.  But with that said, let's examine this note line by line.

Qué pichudo mae

Let's start with the easy stuff, the word mae

Mae is the de facto Costa Rican word for dude, and you'll hear it constantly walking up and down the streets of San Jose and most likely all of Costa Rica.  Guys use it, girls use it, it's everywhere.  You can also use it to refer to a person in general.

Ese mae no me cae bien
I don't like that guy

Mae, ¿Dónde estás?
Dude, where are you?

Now, as always exercise some caution because you may just run across the one person who doesn't like the word or is offended by it.  Or takes offense at you (a.k.a a gringo) using it, but the word itself is perfectly safe.  Just remember it carries this meaning in Costa Rica.  In another country it may not exist at all or possibly be offensive.  Know your audience.

Next we get to pichudo.  Pichudo is another very Costa Rican word meaning genial or buenísimo in standard Spanish.   In English it would be something along the great, cool or awesome.

So our translation would be something along the lines of:

Qué pichudo mae
How awesome dude

Translating slang isn't an exact science, but this conveys the idea.

The next line is a bit trickier and I actually needed help with this one.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina

If you're looking at the word tenquius and can't figure out what it means or how to pronounce it, don't feel bad, you're not alone.  I searched the internet far and wide for the meaning of that one to no avail.  It turns it out it means "thank you's", but it sounds like "tank youz".  Go figure.

The next word, harina, is a lot easier.  The dictionary meaning is flour, but in Costa Rican Spanish it's money.  In fact, the currency of Costa Rica is called colones, but I'll write more about that in another post.

The literal translation "Too many thank you's" just doesn't sound right to my English ears, so I'm going with the below instead.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina
Dude, thanks so much for the money

Moving on the next line, this is something else I would never have figured out with my friends help.

Esta en tuas!

This actually has a bit of history to go with it and you will totally impress your Costa Rican friends with your knowledge of this one.  Or at least the one's old enough to remember this.

The first thing you need to know is that this phrase, when written in proper Spanish, is actually

Está en todas

And unlike the vast majority of the Spanish phrases I learn, I was actually able to learn the origin of this one.  Or least how it become popular.

These may look familiar to you.

Yep, they look like M&M's don't they?

Our phrase, estás en todas, became a popular saying as a result of an 80's commercial.   Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we get to watch this too.

If you don't see the video below, here's the direct link:

¡Con teens estás en todas!

Now, this is the hard part, translating our expression.   I'm thinking it's somewhere along the lines of you're awesome or really cool.

Moving right along we get to the next line.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable

Keeping with our tradition of tackling the easy words first, tafies is a fiesta, or party in English.

Teus is a bit trickier.  My amigo tico told me that this simply means usted in pachuco.  Great, now we have to figure what pachuco is.

Pachuco is a very informal and slangy form of Costa Rican Spanish, which according to Google has it's roots in Mexican Spanish used in the days of zoot suits.   I can't really tell you much about it but a Google search will give you enough info to keep you busy if you're really interested.

And if you don't know, everyone in Costa Rica speaks with usted.  It's just what they do.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable
It was a pleasure to have your support in this memorable occasion

As I mentioned earlier, tafies means party, but for translation purposes occasion or celebration seems to fit better.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas

Chema is Costa Rican slang for a shirt.  And just so you know, they use the word cachos for shoes.  I mentioned that in some of my earlier posts about Costan Rican Spanish.

Next we get another very, very common word in Costa Rican slang.  Guila.

Here's a well written definition in Spanish I found.

Guila should actually be written as güila, and it can be used to refer to a guy or a girl in general, or your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It's always written as güila, so to specify the gender you  say el güila or la güila.  In informal writing it's nearly always seen written with a regular u and not ü (with the diaeresis).

Mae, esa güila es muy bonita
Dude, that girl is really pretty

¿Como está su guila?
How's your girlfriend?

Es un queque, right?  That's tico for "it's easy, right?"

Moving on.

Chanclas, are flip flops or sandalias (sandals).  Generally speaking, chanclas and sandalias are synonyms, with the exception that chanclas also refers to flip flips, while typically sandalias does not.

The word chancla generally refers to any flat sandal, but that's not a strict rule.  Various styles of sandals can be referred to as chanclas.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas
I'm going to buy myself a shirt and my girlfriend some sandals

And we're finally getting to the end.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.

Jupa means cabeza, or head.  And Tiquicia is nothing more than an affectionate reference to the country of Costa Rica itself.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.
I hope you tie a knot in your head trying to figure out my message written in the language of Costa Rica.

And there you have it.  Go forth and impress your tico (Costa Rican) friends with this new bit of Spanish you've learned today.

If you want or need to learn more Costa Rican slang, I found these lessons on Costa Rican Spanish to be of great help.  They do a great job of zeroing in on the most common terms.  You can also find several books on Costa Rican slang at Amazon.

Of course the best thing to do to learn some Costa Rican slang is to make friends with some ticos or hop on a plane to Tiquicia, but if you can't do either one of those then the options I gave you above aren't bad either.

¡Hasta la próxima!