Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dale que viene la guagua

Because I like pictures, and because I also think this picture is pretty cool, here's a guagua:

Dale que viene la guagua
Hurry, the bus is coming

That's right, guagua is another word for bus. Don't ask me about the origins of this word, because I couldn't tell you.  This isn't a universal word for bus, but if you find yourself in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Canarias, Puerto Rico and who knows where else, you're likely hear it.  But a word of warning, guagua doesn't mean bus everywhere, so know your audience.

Surprisingly (or maybe not), there also other names for buses, and each type of bus has it's own name.

This is a  chiva.

Take a trip to Colombia and you'll see them all the time. Why these buses are called chivas is beyond me, but take a closer look at the photo. Notice that the passenger windows have no glass.  According to my amiga from Colombia, that's the trademark of a chiva.

Here's another one.  What we call a city bus, in Argentina would be referred to as a colectivo.  In another country it might be called an ómnibus.  

In Mexico, this would be a colectivo.

There's also the word micro, which in Mexico is technically more of a van, but it would look something like this:

Here's one more, a combi, also from Mexico.  Doesn't look very different from a colectivo does it?

This list isn't meant to exhaustive.  Each country has it's own word for bus or transportation vehicles, but don't worry.  If you ever need to catch a bus in a Spanish speaking country and you don't know the local terms, you can't go wrong with autobús or bus.  The locals will know you're a foreigner and will be happy to help you out.  But you will sound a lot more native and a have a lot more fun if you learn the local terms.

¡Hasta luego!


  1. Chivas in Colombia are party buses! They are NOT normal buses, at least not in the cities. Haha, I've always wondered about the name as well.

    In Colombia, there are los buses, las busetas and los colectivos. I was never really clear on the difference between bus and buseta. In any case, bus is much more common.

    Learning to read the signs in the windows (like in the picture of the micro) as the bus whizzes by is a real art! At least in Colombia, the bus stops aren't used. You just stand on the side of the road and stick out your finger when you see the bus you need. Thus, the need to be able to read very quickly. You come to mostly memorize the colors of the buses, though, and be able to quickly scan the letreros to see if they're going to your destination or not. It's extremely overwhelming at first :)

  2. Thanks Katie,

    I knew you would stop by to save the day with your comments on chivas. I find it interesting that my amiga never mentioned chivas being party buses. I'll have to ask her about that. Although, I have seen some videos of chivas being used as public transportation.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting. Your input is GREATLY appreciated.

  3. Guagua! Listen to the sound that the honking horn makes, primo! "Gua-gua! Gua-gua!" No puedes oírlo?

  4. Guagua? Listen to the bus honking his horn, "Gua-gua! Gua-gua!" No puedes oírlo?

  5. When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and
    now each time a comment iss added I get three
    emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?