Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm Trying To Stay Hip In Colombian, Homies

As many of you already know, I am having a devil of a time finding amigos in Bogota. I have sent out countless emails to friends of friends of friends (who I suppose are actually strangers) and have yet to convince anyone they might like to get a cup of coffee with me. I get the feeling that most of the people I have met at work think I'm some kind of a hippie, but not in a good way. Bizarely, I had an easier time finding friends in Borneo, the same island where I guess some people like to do this:     

However, I have not totally given up hope (even though the rocking chair that came with my apartment does seem like possibly a very bad omen, I might have to contact the fortune teller I visited in Chelsea before I left NYC to see if there have been any changes in my Tarot Cards). I am not totally convinced that I came to Bogota to be a single, sober, homebody who spends a great deal of time wondering if it's time to make the jump and adopt that first cat. It just seems as if that would be a little too ironic, even for me.

In the past I have learned that for those of us who remain single out social lives don't change all that much. I don't know what people in serious relationships do for sure, but I have heard tails of tasteful soirees and nights in. From what I gather they rarely find themselves at slightly scary gay bars on Christopher Street. Sometimes I get invited to nights out with couples and figure I should accept said invitations in order to satisfy my curiosity.

Often times these nights will include going to a tasteful place which has either candles or muted lighting like this:

I feel like I should warn the other single ladies out there that at times curiosity really does kill the cat. Although going to an establishment where Budweiser or PBR is not the biggest seller will feel like a nice change of pace at first, you will probably find yourself wedged into a dimly lit booth flanked by one or more couple. They will begin using strange and unfamiliar terms and acronyms. After a longish period of time you will learn that these strange and unfamiliar terms and acronyms relate to things like mortgages and professions you know nothing about. You will begin to feel like a little kid who has accidentally made their way to the grown up table. They will sometimes ask you to share your latest "hilarious" romantic debacle and they will chuckle. They will follow this by either sharing an inspirational story about either a friend of a friend who "never gave up hope" and recently married their internet boyfriend or a less fortunate friend of a friend who has decided to artificially inseminate herself. The conversation will then turn to either fertility treatments or plans for the next couples vacation. At this point you will probably start to feel like this girl (not the one on the left):

In order to combat these feeling after a few hours you will probably try to contact one of your few remaining single friends or try to remember if this is the night that your old roommate works the door at the hipper bar down the street. You will try to go to the louder, younger bar where at least you might be entertained by watching a Hassidic guy who has ten kids at home somehow manage to pick up the 22 year old hipster wearing some sort of jumpsuit from American Apparel, or catch some metal band's last set.

Because at the end of the day hanging out at tasteful, candlelit wine bars with people who are very much in love is  perhaps more age appropriate, but not all that much fun (at least not all of the time). I often times find myself at some places that are younger and louder where people are less likely to suggest that I start to consider buying a stranger's sperm off of the Internet. As a result I still sometimes wear vans and tend to use a little bit of slang that I might be almost too old to be comfortably using. I have to try to blend in without coming off like this guy:

Therefore, I have been trying to prepare for finding some amigos here in Bogota. I figure when I finally find some hip, new friends I should have a few cool, local slang words to throw around to really wow them with. Since I hear they speak a lot of Spanish here I started doing some research on the internets. Hopefully, the website I found is pretty up to date or else I might sound like this guy I worked with in Japan long ago who was constantly quoting In Living Color from almost ten years before when it wasn't really cool anymore. This would probably not do much to help my hunt for a few good amigos (mediocre would also be OK). Here's what I've got so far.


Since this word means nerd in English I am hoping that even with my embarrassingly limited linguistic talents I should be able to lock this one down.


Although I don't really have any personal problems with saucepans the fact that the word also can be used to mean bad luck, or not good, is fine by me. Probably because I don't think I have ever tried to use a saucepan (since you don't use them to cook up PP&Js


In addition to the STD this can also be used to describe something evil or loathsome. Even though I am not totally sure what the symptoms are, I have never really heard anything good about Gonorrea so this sounds about right.


This is the word for fried pork rinds, which are delicious. The fact that they are so delicious makes it hard for me to understand why it is also used to refer to a problem or something to deal with. This sounds pretty negative for such a tasty treat.


While I might not totally agree with the use of Chicharron, I can totally get behind the use of chimba, although I seem to remember about this only being used this way in Medellin. Out of respect for my nana, I will define it as the word in English that begins with a P that we use to describe a lady's ladyparts. Now in English we use it to describe a man who acts like the opposite of this guy:

Since this is generally a bad thing, it suggest that we English speakers have pretty negative feelings about ladyparts.  This is not all that surprising when you take a look at what was sold to ladies to improve their ladypart hygiene not all that long ago to:

As a lady this is kinda a bummer (especially the Lysol part) and something I try not to get behind by trying to substitute the P word with another P word, pansy (which is probably not much better) when describing a girly man. In the interest of honesty I will admit that I am not always successful at this.

However, in Colombia when the word chimba is used as an object of comparison it denotes an extreme attraction to something. For example, according to my Colombian slang website, "Eso es una chimba de carro" translates into "That is a cool car". Think of how much more pro-lady we would sound in English if you could say things like "That guy is a real P" and have it mean he's a real cool dude instead of some guy you wish would just man the hell up, or if you could say "How P!" and have it mean "Awesome!". I mean, isn't this why Our Bodies, Ourselves was written in the first place and why Eve Ensler wrote that play?

When you think about it, the only people who really should be using the P word in a negative way is gay men. This is because usually when they get mentioned they involuntarily make a face like this:

They can't help it, it's biological. However, men who claim to be fans should really consider why they also use the same word as one of the most offensive insults for other men.

I would like to share this bit of info with my one of my aunties. I think she will be pleased. Several years ago I was related a story to her about a little family drama in which a man was acting a little less than manly. My brother's response was that the man in question was acting like a great, big V (while it is a more official word, it is still not complementary in the given context). Instead of being offended by my brother's indelicate language, my aunt who is both a Buddhist and a Yogi, was concerned that he sounded as if he had some negative feelings about Vs. I think she will be happy to know that there is at least one place where  a similar word can also be used to refer to a bitchin' ride or a hot lady.

So now that I can cooly talk about nerds, loathsome things, bad things and things that are wicked cool, all I need is a few homies to appropriately appreciate my command of the local lexicon.


  1. Your blog is super-chimba, amiga!

  2. There is nothing wrong in aspiring to be Wooderson!