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Sayings of my people

Unfortunately, some of the chosen examples are no longer used daily in the streets, but are retained only in the people’s memory.

People at Baraco Central Park

Fregao: When a person wants to say to another that they shouldn’t go on bothering him they say No me friegues más. (Fregar = to scour, scrub)

Aplazado: This word is used to say to live in concubinage. When you ask a person if they are married or single, if they live together unmarried, they say Estoy aplazado. (Aplazar = to postpone)

La plata: Used to refer to Money (Plata = silver)

La pela: used to express the act of smacking the bottom as a punishment to a child, it is said, te voy a dar una pela.

Cayuca: this word is used to describe flat-bottomed boats with sharp prows and wide sterns. Those who row them are called cayuqueros.

Cayuca in Rio Toa, Baracoa

Adio: this word is used not as a farewell but as an exclamation. For example, if you ask someone why they came late, they reply ¡adio, no había guagua en que venir! (translator’s note: could this term be derived from "Ay Dios!’ ?)

Vea: this is used as an affirmation, for example, when you speak of something and the Baracoan wishes to affirm what you say, he will respond ¡vea!

Me devolví: Phrase used as a synonym for returning. (literally “I returned myself”)

Me ripie como un yarey: I shredded myself like a leaf – hard to explain to a non-Cuban, but this is a very colloquial phrase meaning that one enjoyed oneself a lot at a party. Yarey is a fibrous plant whose leaves are used to make hats, baskets, etc.

Una lagrima de San Pedro: A tear of St Peter – means a stone

Baracoa, people in the streets

Esta pampui: To be ill, or when a fruit is rotten, esta pampui

Guineo Eguinoa: Name given to the fruit known as a guineo burro (plantain) in other places.

El barco de vela lo que necesita es viento: What the sailing boat needs is wind. Phrase which is used to say that what is needed is money and not advice.

Cuando se muera búsquenlo río arriba: literally "When he dies look for him river above’ – phrase which is used to describe a stubborn person

¡Arreovaya!: exclamation relating to anything which is disagreeable

Baracoa, people in the streets

¡Que abusador!: expression used when something extraordinary has happened, for example when a pilot goes by in a low-flying plane, when in a fight a man hits another mercilessly


Te voy a regalar un choncholí blanco: I am going to give you a white choncholí (NB: you will have to ask Yirandis what a choncholí is, no-one I know has any idea!) – used when one believes that something cannot be done and a charlatan says that it can, also to threaten someone, "if you dare do that I will give you a white choncholí’.


La ñapa: these were provisions offered by salesmen in olden times to attract clients

Revacando: to fight, but also to try to get out of a fight, when he who is attempting to depart from the scene is coming off worst

Celebrarse: literally to celebrate – pretty acts which have almost completely disappeared from courtship: squeezes of the hand, amorous games and kisses

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