Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Costa Ricans will often use the word vergazo to mean a strong punch with a fist. This is a colloquial term you might hear in a rural cantina. Keep in mind that the word verga means 'dick'. So, this isn't exactly church language. (Of course, punching people isn't exactly church behavior either.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Word of the Day: Tiquete

Tiquete is the most common Costa Rican word for ticket. Most people will understand the word boleto, especially in context, but whenever it's a question of a bus ticket or an plane ticket, you'll almost always hear tiquete.

Note: In Costa Rica people will also use the term pasaje, which means 'passage' and can be used interchangeably with tiquete in most cases. One exception would be when you're referring directly to the physical ticket itself, in which case tiquete would be most appropriate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Va a llover, it's raining

Often when it rained in the rural area where I lived, someone would say "va a llover". It doesn't take much knowledge of Spanish to recognize this as a future tense. So, why would people say that it's going to rain right when it starts raining? It's anyone's guess, but here's mine:

This phrase is likely a projection of continued rain throughout the day. If it starts raining, and the outlook for the foreseeable hours in the day look grim, people will predict a considerable amount of rainfall, using only a three-word prhase.

I can respect this type of communication. People tend to shorten language when they're among people of similar background. Heck, why not use a few words when that's all you need to get your point across? With that said, I went through several months of frustration because of my relative lack of local understanding. For example, people would always tell me that I need to go para arriba [parriba] or para abajo [pabajo] to go where I needed to go. To me, up or down didn't mean much because I was unfamiliar with the relative altitudes of different villages. What seemed obvious to all the locals was a great mystery to me.

But with time I learned the subtleties of language in my rural corner of Costa Rica. Eventually, instead of saying that the rain will probably last till tomorrow morning, I learned to kick back and say "va a llover". And it felt good.