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!

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