Monday, April 14, 2014

¿Vas a poner la maría?

If you missed my first two posts about my Costa Rica adventures, you can read them here:

1.  Tienes que cancelar la entrada
2.  ¡Pura Vida!

Let's see if I can wrap things up in this post.  So far I covered the language and now it's time to talk about my second favorite thing, comida.

When I travel the first thing I usually want to do when I get off the plane is find someone to talk to in a local bar and have a beer.  So let's start with what's probably the most popular beer in Costa Rica:



I'm not huge on beer, it's more of something I do on vacation.  But I have to admit, it wasn't bad. Although I preferred the Imperial Silver:


You can probably tell those are photos I got off the internet.  As many of those things as I drank you'd think I would have taken my own photos.  Oh well.

Costa Rica is famous for it's casados.  A casado is what I'm going to call a combination plate for lack of a better word.  You get some type of meat and a couple of sides.  Here's one I tried:


As you can see I ordered pescado (fish).  And to be specific, it was Corvina (Sea bass).  The other items on the plate are arroz, frijoles, plátano maduro, ensalada and a limón madarin.  I have to to admit, it was ¡muy rico!

By the way, muy rico literally translates to "very rich" but when it comes to food that's a very common way to say it's "really good".

¿Cómo está la comida?
Está muy rica

How's the food?
It's really good

Even the fast food chains serve casados.


Costa Rica is also very famous for it's Gallo Pinto.  Gallo Pinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast food.  Here's a photo of what a breakfast of Gallo Pinto might look like.


I'm ashamed to say I never tried the Gallo Pinto.  Oh well, that's my excuse for another trip to Costa Rica.  I did however, try a lomito.

Lomito isn't exclusively Costa Rican, nor is it anything particularly Spanish.  It's the word the waitress told me they use for steak in Costa Rica.



There are a lot of good places to eat in Costa Rica, you can find lots of little restaurants walking up and down the street.  And these little restaurants are called Sodas.




 All this talk of food is making me hungry.  It's time to change subjects.

The last thing I'm going to talk about is taxi's.  The streets of San Jose are flooded with these little red cabs.


The meter is called a taxímetro.

Por favor, ponga el taxímetro
Please turn on the meter

You may need that phrase may often than you think.  It will keep the taxi driver honest.  And speaking of honest cab drivers, there are people that moonlight as cab drivers that don't have a taxímetro.  These so-called cabs are called piratas and aside from the fact they aren't necessarily safe, you're going to end up paying more.

The taxímetro is also called La María.

¿Vas a poner la maría?
Are you going to turn on the meter?

And that's it, we're done!  At least for today.  There's one more thing I want to share with you but it will have to wait for my next post.

Oh, before I go, you may remember I mentioned plátanos maduros earlier.  If you don't what those are, then read my below posts.  And if even you do know what they are, you still probably want to read these posts because you might just be surprised at what you learn.

1. ¿Tostones o amarillos?
2. Banano-Banana-Guineo-Plátano


¡Hasta la próxima!

¡Pura Vida!

It's time to pick up where I left off with my adventures in Costa Rican Spanish.  I probably should have started with this one, but it's never too late so let's get to it.



Pura vida is practically the national slogan of Costa Rica.  Pura vida is more than just words, it's a way of life. It's all about taking things easy and just enjoying life.  Kinda like "Don't worry, be happy".  Here are the basics of how it's used.

Hola mae, ¿cómo va?  ¿Pura vida?
Pura vida mae

Hi dude, how are you?  It's all good?
It's all good dude

By the way, mae is pronounced "my".  And tuanis (two-juan-knees) is considered a synonym of pura vida.

¿Cómo está mae? 
Tuanis

How are you dude?
Great

If your Spanish is good or you're up for a challenge, here's a good (and relatively short) read about tuanis.  But if you want some insight from the experts then click here to learn more cool Costa Rican slang.

Let's move on to the next topic.

If you happen to be driving in Costa Rica, there is no shortage of parking, which I know as estacionamento, but in Costa Rica it's known as parqueo.



Here's an interesting street sign:


At first I thought "Is this a typo?".    I had never seen the word virar before, but it's meaning (thanks to the sign) was pretty obvious:

No virar a la izquierda
No left turn

This jumped out at me because I'm used to seeing signs that say "No girar a la izquierda".  But it's always nice to have options right?


While walking through downtown San Jose I saw a shoe store named Cachos.


Cachos is not only the name of the store, but it's also slang for shoes.  When I confirmed it's meaning with my tico friend he also told me they use caballo for jeans and chema for shirt.

Like any other city San Jose has it's share of corner stores and in Costa Rica these corner stores are called pulperías.



I was fortunate enough to get a candid shot of Costa Rica's new presidente.  He just happened to be campaigning downtown.  If you're curious about the details of the election, here's an article, in Spanish of course.



The last thing I'm going to talk about in this post is Costa Rican plata.  Plata is slang for dinero.  If you want to learn some more slang words for dinero, you can read my post Más minutos menos lana.

Costa rican money is called colones.  Here are some pictures:


I love the currency of Costa Rica, it's very colorful.  Way more fun than our boring American dollars.

That's it for today.  I think one more post will wrap up my Costa Rican adventures, so stay tuned.  If you missed the other posts, you can find them here:

1.  Tiene que cancelar la entrada
2.  ¿Vas a poner la maría?

¡hasta la próxima!


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!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

¿Me puede pasar corriente?

Sometimes I'm amazed at the amount of Spanish I know.  Until I'm abruptly reminded of how much Spanish I don't know.

One night after enjoying a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I was completely surprised by what happened next.

Se murió la batería de mi coche
My car battery died

To be honest, while that was aggravating, what bothered me even more was the fact that I had to ask for a jump in English.  I didn't even have a clue as to how to ask for a jump in Spanish.  So today I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.

¿Me puede pasarcorriente?
Can you give me a jump?


That was easy wasn't it?  Let's look at some vocabulary and learn a few other things you'll need to know.

Jumper cables are called cables para pasar corriente.

¿Tienes cables para pasar corriente?
Do you have jumper cables?




The jumper cable clamps are called pinzas.



Now we know how to ask for jumper cables, we're halfway there.

There are two words for battery in Spanish, pilas and batería.  You want to use batería when in comes to talking about your car battery.


The cables para pasar corriente attach to the terminales (terminal for just one) of the batería.  And as you can see by picture you have a terminal positivo y terminal negativo.  And the dead battery is called the batería muerta.

La batería está muerta
The battery is dead

You have to conectar the pinzas to the terminales.

Conecta el cable con la pinza roja primero en la terminal positiva
Connect the cable with red clamp first to the positive terminal

Conecta la pinza negra a la terminal negativa
Connect the black clamp to the negative terminal




The next step is to encender or arrancar (start) the car.

Enciende/Arranca  el coche
Start the car

And finally, you need to retirar las pinzas from the terminales.

Retira las pinzas
Remove the clamps

And finally, here's a video where you can actually hear all of this and learn how to pasar corriente at the same time.


That's it!  Now you know everything you need to get a jump in Spanish.  And if your memory is as bad as mine, then you may want to consider downloading my android phrasebook app that will allow you keep these phrases and many more at your fingertips when you need them.

Before I let you go, here are some other posts you may like:

1.  Marque su pin
2.  Gira a la derecha, mas adelante

That's it for today, ¡Buena suerte!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Una paja por favor

Have you ever need to know how to ask for a straw in Spanish? Surprisingly, knowing how to say straw in Spanish can be more difficult than you might think.

I remember when I learned how to ask for a straw.  I considered this a victory and moved on.  Then I discovered there was more than one word for straw.  After that I discovered there were actually quite a few words for straw. 

Let's take a look at some of the words for how to say straw in Spanish:  Paja, pajita, caña, sorbete, cañita, pajilla, pitillo and popote.  




If you're wondering why there are so many words for straw, it's because they're all regional.  I'm not sure if there is a generally accepted word for straw, so if you have any suggestions feel free to leave a comment.

Let's revisit that list of translations for straw and I'll tell you what words are used in what country.  At least in general.

Catalunya (Spain) - caña
Rest of Spain - pajita
Argentina - pajita, sorbete
Peru- cañita, sorbete
Dominican Republic, Cuba - sorbete
Puerto Rico - sorbeto
El Salvador, Costa Rica - pajilla
Mexico - popote
Colombia, Venezuela - pitillo

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, those are just the words this gringo has heard of.  And the list comes with the additional disclaimer that it's based on my conversations, experience and opinion, so everyone may not agree with my list.  


I also want to point out that in certain parts of Spain a caña can also be a beer, so you really need to know your audience.

Now it's time to talk about the title of this post.

¿Una paja por favor?
A straw please?

Something as simple as asking for a paja can end up being a little embarrassing.  Yes, I know what you're thinking, how can asking for a straw be embarrassing? Let me explain.

It turns out paja has another not so innocent meaning.  And by not so innocent I mean vulgar.  It's also a way of referring to masturbation in some countries.  I won't go into detail on this blog, but you can read more about that here, on my blog about Swearing in Spanish.   If you're the paranoid type when you ask for a straw using the word paja you can clarify things by asking for a paja para beber.  Or you can simply avoid the word altogether by using pajita instead.

Let's get back to the real issue, straws.

For those of you who like pictures, here's a nice photo that also serves as a handy reference.  It was created by Veinte Mundos, which is a great (free) podcast site.  You should check it out.  




So what can you do to remember the right word at the right time?  My advice is to just learn the words the people you associate with use the most.  Beyond that you'll have to use good old-fashioned body language if you can't find the right word.


And that's it.  Now you're equipped with everything you need to know for how to say straw Spanish. 

Know any other words for straw or have some words of wisdom?  Leave your comments below!

¡Hasta la próxima!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Está curada

Every time I go to Mexico, I learn something new.  The things I learn are like that box of chocolates Forest Gump talks about, you never know what you're going to get.  Sometimes it's useful, sometimes it's just interesting and fun.  The one thing I have learned however, is that no matter how strange or useless I may think a word or expression is, I always end up hearing it again later on.  With that said, let's get started.

Está curada

Curada means to be cured, as in curing meat.  It also means to cure someone of something, like an infection.  Except in this example, that is.

Está curada
It's cool

Ese coche está curado
That car is cool

Tu camisa está curada
You shirt is cool

A few related expressions would be:

Que padre, que chido, que bien

It's my understanding that this is an expression used in Northern Mexican, especially in Tijuana.  Toss it around with your Mexican friends and see what happens, I'll bet it leads to a few laughs, a great conversation and someone asking you, "where did you learn that?"

Up next we have the word chiloso.

¿Está chiloso?
Is it spicy?

And by spicy I mean spicy hot.  Here are a few other related terms:

Enchiloso is another word for spicy.  Enchilar is to season food specifically with chili's.  I'm not sure how wide spread these words are in Mexico much less the Spanish speaking world, but everyone should understand the words picante and pica.

¿Está picante?
Is it spicy?

¿Pica mucho?
Is it spicy?

So much for my adventures in food.  Surprisingly the next word I'm going to tell you about I learned while checking in to my hotel.  It's not much of a story, but here's what happened.

After I finished checking in, the young lady behind the desk turned on the intercom and called for botones.

Instantly I thought, buttons?  OK, a half second later I realized she wasn't randomly screaming out buttons in the hotel lobby.  No one responded to her, so I wasn't able to figure out what the heck she was talking about.  I had to wait until I got to an internet connection to solve that riddle.

Botones simply means bell hop.  Now you won't have the same stupid look I had on my face when I heard this.

By the way, if you're not familiar with the Spanish you need to check into a hotel, read my entry,
¿A qué hora es la hora de entrada?.

As a tourist, I take a lot of taxi's to get around.  And I learned long ago that in Spanish you use the verb tomar to talk about taking a taxi.

Tomamos un taxi
Let's take a cab

Too bad my Spanish books never told me there's more than one way to catch a cab in Spanish.

So there I was telling someone that I was going to take a taxi, and I'll never forget the answer I got.

En México no tomas un taxi. Agarras un taxi.

Agarrar is the verb, and it's typically means to grad or to hold on.

¿Dónde puedo agarrar un taxi?
Where can I catch a taxi?

Agarra un taxi, no es caro
Grab a taxi, it's not expensive

After that, I heard people using agarrar to talk about catching taxi's and buses every time I turned around.  You can also coger a taxi, but to my knowledge this isn't widely used in Mexico, but it is most certainly understood.  And don't worry, even though many people in Mexico use agarrar to talk about catching a cab, many people use tomar as well.

Before I let you go, you may have noticed the new About Me button at the top of the page.  Or maybe not.  Anyway, if you've ever been wondering about the man behind the curtain, err, blog, you can simply click on that button to get the answers to your deepest, darkest questions about me.  Or you can just click here.  And be sure to follow my other ramblings, Helping You Learn Spanish and No Seas Pelongoche.  Although I must warn you that No Seas Pelangoche is for those of you who want to know all about bad words in Spanish.

That's it for today!  I hope you learned something new.

¡Hasta la próxima!


Monday, December 9, 2013

¿Qué me ves?

Today we're going to take a look at the verb ver, to see.  It seems simple enough, but I've discovered some surprising usages.

¿Qué me ves?

This is another one of those situations where a literal translation wouldn't make any sense, "What you seeing me?".  It's best we throw that translation out and start over.  In fact, let me help you.

¿Qué me ves?
What are you looking at?



What are you looking at?  I'm pouring water on my sandal....and?


Isn't she cute?  But that look on her face tells me you'd best not upset her.

If you happen to notice someone staring at you (maybe because you're wearing some of your lunch) this is the perfect phrase.

Let's take a look at some other ways to use ver.

¿Cómo lo ves?
How do you see it?

As a literal translation this one comes close.  A better translation would be:

¿Cómo lo ves?
What do you think?

En mi opinon, la película estuvo bien, ¿Cómo lo ves?
In my opinion, the movie was good, what do you think?

And if you find yourself speaking with a Mexican you may hear this as simply:

¿Cómo ves?

Ella habla muy bien español, ¿no?  ¿Cómo ves?
She speaks really good Spanish right?  What do you think?

While the sentences above are kind of interesting, I didn't find them surprising.  This usage of ver did surprise me.

Te veo triste
You look sad

Te veo cansado
You look tired

Te veo delgado
You look thin

To talk about  how you look you use verse.

¿Cómo me veo?
How do I look?

Me veo horrible
I look horrible

How many times have you asked someone this in English:

Do I look stupid?

Now you're about to learn how to say it in Spanish.

¿Me ves cara de tonto?
Do I look stupid?

Actually, you can talk about any type of facial expression.

¿De verdad me ves con cara de aburrido?
Do I really looking boring?

Before I wrap things up, take a look at this really cute image.


I don't see anything, but it's best they take you to the doctor.

While there's nothing earth-shattering about what I wrote, you'll hear all the above at some point and now you won't be taken by surprise.  Don't hesitate to toss a few of these expressions around, your Spanish friends will definitely notice!

Well, that's it, ¡Hasta la próxima!