I love ‘costeñol’, but I miss my favourite Spanish phrases!

I’m sure that every Spanish student who loves learning this magnificent language will tell you that ser and estar can be a nightmare; por and para are a pain in the arse; and that the subjunctive is an absolute bitch- but some of the wonderful aspects of español are the cool idioms and colloquial phrases you pick up.

Costeñol, the funky nickname they give to the Spanish spoken here on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has lots of cool expressions and words; chévere, bacano, ‘arajo, eche, coge a coge among many more (remember I’m still learning). I’m really enjoying these great new sayings, can’t wait to teach them to my friends at home, and love the hilarious reaction I get when I use them- the barranquilleros I meet are thrilled when they hear me use their Costeñol words… Especially the dirty words. (Seriously I didn’t know how many words existed that mean ‘prostitute’…)

However, due to the huge differences between some of the regional and country varieties of Spanish a lot of my favourite phrases mean nothing here. I don’t know how many times I said “Soy muy listo!” thinking I was sarcastically telling people, “I’m so clever” only to realise just last week that people almost never use this phrase, and probably thought I was just being stupid (“Estoy listo” means “I’m ready” and is used all the time here).

There are 3 phrases I miss more than others.

I learned to say hay mucha marcha, when I was about 14, and it is one of those phrases that just stuck in my head. In spain it means “There’s lots going on” but here in Colombia, it doesn’t really mean anything. Sometimes I still say it, only to be disheartened when I realise I’ve just told someone “there’s a lot of march”.

Me lo pasé bomb, is a nice castellano phrase to say “I had a great time'” (it was a bomb!), but here in Barranquilla it will just confuse people, wondering why you passed yourself a balloon. (Bomba =bomb, and also balloon).

My last phrase is the brilliant, ¿Qué te pasa, calabaza? which is a wonderful saying that means What’s up, pumpkin?. The reason I love this phrase, is because it’s exactly the kind of thing I would say in English. Unfortunately, every time I’ve said it to someone in Colombia they’ve been slightly confused, and asked me if I know that I’ve just called them a pumpkin. Of course I knew, you turnip!

Hasta pronto, tonto!
Daniel

(Ps, the last part reminds me of when my sister asked the great philosophical question, “Would you still love me if I was a pumpkin?” I’m not sure if it was an idiom or not… But it sure confused me!)

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