Sunday, February 7, 2016

Estoy mamao

Abrazos y amapuches

This was the text message I got from my amiga venezolana.   While I didn't know exactly what it meant, from the context I knew it was a way of saying goodbye.   It's very common for Spanish speakers to end emails or chats with things like:

Besos y abrazos
Un abrazo
Un abrazo fuerte

But amapuche had me at a complete loss.

So what is an amapuche?

In general, an amapuche is a hug, a caress, a kiss, a display of fondness, affection or any combination of the above.  You can give amapuches to your children, your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, your grandmother, to anyone you care about.

Now it's time for some examples.

Te envio un amapuche fuerte 
I'm sending you a big hug

A Ramon no le gusta que su abuelita le haga amapuches enfrente de la gente
Ramon doesn't like his grandmother to be affectionate with him in front of people

Te mando amapuches miles y a la family
Sending you and your family lots of hugs

Literally the phrase above says thousands of hugs, but that would sound odd in English so I just translated it to lots.  And while amapuches doesn't always mean hugs, it seems appropriate here.

Besos, abrazos y amapuches
Kisses, hugs and lots of love

I took some liberty with my translation of that one.  Translation can be a tricky business, and that last one definitely is a little tricky.  I'm hesitant to say amapuche means "lots of love" in this case, but translating it to anything else I could think of just didn't make sense in English.  Feel free to suggest a translation in the comments.

Se ve que están recién casados porque se la pasan de amapuche en amapuche
You can see they're newlyweds because they're all lovey-dovey

Tus caricias, tú, tus abrazos, , tus amapuches, , tus besos, ..Quedo claro que eres 
Your caresses, you, your hugs, you, your affections, you, your kisses, you..Are you clear that it's you?

Mi amor te mando un amapuche para que te quite el frio
My love, I'm sending you a hug to make the cold go away

María tiene algo con Juan porque los he visto con amapuches
María has something going on with Juan because I've seen them being lovey-dovey

Some of you may have noticed that my translations weren't necessarily literal, but amapuche is one of those words that you just have to know what it means.  It can be hard to translate because in some contexts it doesn't have an exact translation.

The word amapuche makes me think of it's Mexican equivalent, apapacho.   You may want to take a look at that one too.  And as an afterthought, neither of these are terms are actually Spanish, they come from one of the indigenous languages of Mexico and Venezuela.

No hay mejor medecino como un buen apapcho

There's also the verb amapuchar.  Amapuchar means to give someone a big hug, to squeeze them really tight.  It also means to show affection.

Ella me amapuchó muy fuerte
She gave me a really big hug

Quiero que me amapuches
I want you to show me some affection

You could also translate that last one as "I want you to hug me" or maybe even "I want you to caress me".  But like I said earlier, translation is a tricky business.  The idea is you need to give whoever it is you're talking to a little TLC.

Let's talk about a few other Venezuelan expressions I picked up from my amiga.

The first one is estar mamao.

You can look up the word mamao in the dictionary, but you might not find it.  And even if you do, it's meaning changes depending on what country you're in.  But there's one minor thing we need to talk about first.

Part of the reason you might not find the word mamao in the dictionary is because it's actual spelling should be mamado.  The d is dropped, and while you may find this surprising, this sort of thing happens all the time in Spanish.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, estar mamao means to be tired.  Physically tired or even tired of someone or doing something.   Here are some examples.

Estoy mamao
I'm tired

Ayer trabajé muy duro todo el día, estoy mamao
I worked really hard all day yesterday, I'm tired

Si no estoy mamao , voy
If I'm not tired, I'll go

To talk about being tired of something or someone, you have to add de:

Estoy mamao de tanto escribir hoy
I'm tired of writing so much today

Estoy mamao de trabajar los sábados
I'm tired of working on Saturdays

Next we come to the word limpio.  Limpio means clean in Spanish, but in Venezuela it takes on an additional meaning.

Estoy limpio
I don't have any money

A more accurate translation might be "I'm broke".

Here's another example:

He caminado más que puta limpia
I've walked more than a prostitute with no money

By the way, the word puta is a vulgar way of saying prostitute, so be careful with this one.

After a few of these conversations with my amiga, I realized this wasn't my first encounter with Venezuelan Spanish.   Flashing back, that first encounter was years ago with the word pana.

Every Spanish speaking country seems to have its own word for friend or dude, and in Venezuela that word is pana.  You can use it to refer to both men and women, but it's probably much more commonly used between men.

¿Pana cómo estás?
How are you my friend?

El director es pana mía
The director is a friend of mine

Voy a tomarme unos tragos con los panas
I'm going to have some drinks with my friends

You can also use pana to describe someone as being cool or friendly.

Soy muy pana con todos
I'm very friendly with everyone

Es un chamo bien pana
He's a really cool (or nice) guy

By the way, chamo or chama can be used as a synonym of muchacho or muchacha.

There's one last word I want to talk to about, chévere.  This one is actually a staple of both Venezuelan and Colombian Spanish.  I don't think it's possible to have a conversation with someone from Colombia or Venezuela without hearing this word.  OK, I'm exaggerating, but it's extremely common and you'll hear it a lot.  Rumor has it chévere originated in Cuba.  It's also used in a few other countries, but Venezuela and Colombia typically get the credit for it.

La camiseta que compraste está super chévere
That t-shirt you bought is really cool

¿Cómo te va? Todo chévere
How's it going?  It's all good

Ella es chévere
She's really nice (or cool)

¡Qué chévere!
That's great!

Qué chévere la fiesta
This party is great

Qué chévere me siento hoy
I feel really great today

¿Cómo estás? ¡Chévere!
How are you? Great!

 ¿Cómo estás? ¡Chévere cambur!
How are you? Awesome!

I know what you're thinking, what the heck is cambur?  Well, cambur is the word for banana in Venezuela.

Surprisingly there are a quite a few words for banana.  You may want to read my previous posts on banana related Spanish.

¿Tostones o los amarillos?


OK, I digress.  Let's get back on track.

Chévere cambur is just a way to emphasis how great you feel.   But there's an even cooler expression that sin duda is the mark of a Venezolano.

 ¿Cómo estás? Chévere cambur pintón

Translation?  Something along the lines of I feel totally awesome.

My country is totally awesome

As you can see by the image the phrase can apply to more than just people.

And that's it for today.  Now go forth and impress your Venezuelan amigos!


  1. I was wondering if you could write a blog of list of tools/hand tools names that they use in Mexico I think I know a few but I would love to know what mexicans would use...thank you

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading. I appreciate the suggestion. I'll see what I can do. :-)

  2. Hi! I am a spanish teacher from Argentina and i would like to invite you to my blog. If you have any question about argentinian vocabulary, lunfardo (our "slang") or any question to make a post, I would be glad to help!

  3. Hey Rodney,

    Your translation above

    "Te mando amapuches miles y a la family
    Sending you and your family lots of hugs"

    where you substitute 'miles' - thousands for lots which of course makes for a better sounding English translation. This reminds me of a widely used phrase here in Ireland (I'm Irish)

    Céad míle fáilte which translates as 'a hundred thousand welcomes'.

    This is not something you would really say in English either - more like 'you are very welcome'.

    I'm not sure an exact translation to English is always necessary - once we understand the context we're good to go. Still though, be interesting to see if anyone comes forward with a more precise translation of amapuches!


  4. Hola Rodney,

    Escucha a la cancion "chevere" de julio voltio y notch