Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tiene que cancelar la entrada

My faithful readers, you are in for a big surprise today.  What is it you ask?  Instead of talking about Mexican Spanish as I so often do, I'll be sharing my experiences from my trip to Costa Rica.  This will probably take more than one post, so the first thing I'm going to talk about is the Spanish (Costa Rican slang) I heard.

The were two words that I must have heard every 5 minutes that stick out in my mind.  Mae and buenas.  Let's start with mae.

Mae, or maes in plural is the Costa Rican version of dude.  I heard this everywhere.  And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere.  It was being used by men and women of all ages.

Hola mae, ¿cómo estás?
Hi dude, how are you?

Oye mae
Hey dude

Maes, ¿adónde vamos?
Dudes (guys/fellas) where are we going?

By the way, mae is pronounced "my".

Next is buenas.  Buenas simply an informal greeting, a shortened version of buenos días and buenas tarde/noche.  You can use it any time of day or night, and to be honest I could probably count the number of times I heard anything else used as a greeting on one hand.

My Spanish is far from perfect, but it's gotten good enough to the point that it's rare that I'm completely stumped.  But apparently it's not that rare.

 Tiene que cancelar la entrada

I was walking into a night club when I heard this.  While I understood each and every single word clearly I had no idea what he was talking about.

As far as I knew, the verb cancelar (according to the dictionary) meant to cancel or void.  So my mind starts racing trying to figure this out.  I knew entrada meant cover charge/entrance fee, so is he telling me I can't go in?

¿Qué diablos me esta diciendo este mae?
What the hell is this dude saying to me?

Well, I didn't have to wait long to find out what he was saying.  He points to the caja (In this case the window where  you have to pay the entrance fee) and now I know what's going on.

Tiene que cancelar la entrada
You have to pay the cover

And when I paid the exit fee to leave Costa Rica, the receipt was stamped cancelado.

Apparently cancelar and pagar can be used as synonyms in Costa Rica.  And now that I "doy cuenta" (realize) what he was saying, I remember a friend had told me his story of the same thing happening to him in Colombia.  Now you all know and hopefully won't be taken by surprise.

I noticed the word hale on several doors.  Obviously this means pull.  What I found surprising is that I've seen this as jale in Mexico.

I overheard a couple of maes using the word guilas.  A guila is nothing more than a colloquial way to refer to a woman.

Mae, mira estas guilas
Dude, check out those girls

Bretear means to work.

Tengo que bretear hoy
I have to work today

¿Breteas hoy?
Are you working today?

While I was browsing through a souvenir shop, a young lady told me:

Tenemos paños

Once again my so-called improved Spanish that rarely leaves me stumped has left me stumped once again.  She explained to me that paño means towel.  The dictionary calls it a rag, but hey, close enough, right?  She also told me they aren't always synonyms.

I'll leave you with a few more words before I wrap this up.  In fact, I probably should have started with these.

People from Costa Rica are costarricenses.  But locally they're know as ticos and ticas.  Ticos are men and ticas are woman.

¿Eres tico?
Are you Costa Rican?

That's it for today.  I still have a few more words for you and some more fotos, so stay tuned.  In the mean time, click here if you want to learn a little more about Costa Rican slang.

Be sure to check out the rest of my posts on my experiences in Costa Rica.

1.  ¡Pura vida!
2.  ¿Vas a poner la maría?

You also might want to check out some of my other travel related posts.

¡Hasta la próxima!


  1. Buenas is the common greeting in neighboring Panama also, regardless of time of day. Good post!

  2. How about "Tuanis." During my stay in the Guanacaste area recently, I learned this is a Costa Rican slang term, synonymous to Pura Vida and generally means "todo esta bien." Also, rather than ordering cervezas at the bar, the locals call them birras...really have to roll those rr's!

  3. I heard Buenas! many times in Nicaragua.

  4. I've just encountered 'cancelar' used for 'pagar' in two different hotels in different cities in southern Ecuador. Up until now I've travelled in Colombia, Peru and northern Ecuador and had never heard this before - I thought at first that the hotel owner had decided to cancel our booking and was throwing us out! We worked it out eventually!