Monthly Archives: April 2015

Boredom! Four related words


Penca – Chato/a – Fome – Pesado/a = Four more Chilean words you will hear all of the freakin’ time in this country. I must say I’m a fan. Conveniently, they’re all related so we can use them to describe a similar situation or person.

Fome: This word is most closely akin to “lame” or “boring” in English (not “unable to walk”) such as “This party is so lame. I’m gonna bounce.” “Qué fome el carrete. Ya me voy.” It’s used by people of any age to refer to a situation that is dull and uninspiring. It’s not insulting, however, you could call someone fome if you don’t want them to leave the party.

Is it clear that the “carrete” is the Chilean version of fiesta? No one says “fiesta” much here. The weekend, late-night drinking and dancing fest often accompanied by food or snacks is referred to as a “carrete”. Rrroll those Rrrrs!

Estoy chata! I use the “a” ending version, being on the female side of the sliding scale. If you identify as male, you’d use ‘chato’. If you identify somewhere in-between or neither, the Spanish language is not gonna give you any convenient options. This phrase means “I’ve had it up to here” or “I’m sick of it.” I have been heard to say “Estoy chata de esa música cola.” The “cola” part in this phrase is slang for “gay male” and it is not necessarily derogatory. Música cola refers to the Kylie – Rihanna –  Beyoncé style of tunage.  Elsewhere, people say “Estoy harto/a”. This version is understood here, but not used too much.

Penca: This word is in the “fome – aburrido – lame” family, but I’d say it’s closest to “sucky”. “You have to work on your birthday? That sucks.” “Tienes que trabajar en tu cumple? Qué penca.” “Cumple” is clearly short for “cumpleaños.” Fun bonus: Refri is to Refrigerador (nevera) as Fridge is to Refrigerator.

Pesado: The pure meaning here is “heavy”, but it’s used in Chile to talk about someone who is being a downer. Mind you, in this country the label of being a downer could simply be handed out if you tell someone a truth they don’t want to hear. Here is an example:

“Maybe you’d get more work done if you didn’t party so hard.” Response – “You’re such a downer.”

“Capaz que seas más productivo si asistieras a menos carretes.” Respuesta – “Erí pesado.” If you recall, erí is Chile’s ‘tú’ form version of eres. (third paragraph down) Of course, Chileans would pronounc it “pesao” or “pesá” because they eat the ‘D’s.

When friends tell me I’m pesada, I just say it’s honesta and if they don’t want my opinion, don’t whine at me repeatedly about the same thing! Je je.

Lastly, people use the English word “Heavy” to refer to a situation that is serious, deep, incredible, dramatic or in some way hard to wrap the mind around. If I hear a story of some impact or true import on someone’s life, I may say “That shit’s real” especially if I’m not talking directly to the affected party. Here you could say “¡Qué heavy!” Be sure to pronounce it as if it were a Spanish word though. Something like hay-a-vee with a good moment’s linger on the ‘H’.

Well that was more than four words, but it sure was fun!

I always appreciate questions, comments and feedback.


Getting Hitched in Argentina – Part II


So we did the dang thing! We still haven’t decided how to combine our last names yet. Everything worked out in a mostly-planned, partially-improvised brew-ha-ha (no idea how to spell that) that joined friends from many countries. The best part was they all got along instantly. I was expecting that, but it was amazing to watch. One of my best friends surprised us by flying in from Morocco. All of this is going to keep me smiling for months and months to come. I never planned to get married, let alone in Spanish. At the ceremony beforehand I had to ask how you say “I do.” It’s “Acepto.” Judge Antonia Pinelli did a fantastic job. She was official without being officious and has such a warm heart. She did a pretty bad job with my name though, but a laugh is always good during something like this. She called me Sirli Mah-ree-ay Ñeuman instead of Sharlene Marie Newman. My favorite bit was when she said our marriage is important to the Nation of Argentina. Thank you Argentina, and thank you to our wonderful witnesses Alicia and Hugo.


They gave us the official paperwork and the Libreta de Familia wherein we’ll enter our children’s names when that time comes. It’s used for traveling purposes. In the opening pages it talks about what marriage means and gives reasonable rules for naming children. One of which is that you shan’t give a kid more than three first names, nor can you give them any names that are “ridiculous”. I love it! I have always liked the name Fahrenheit. Exotic or ridiculous? Next we have to have our papers “legalized” and stamped in Argentina and then sent to the Hague. Whoa. I hadn’t realized that beforehand. This means that anywhere in the world that has matrimonio igualitario will recognize our legal bond – and in the US, too, since DOMA hit the dustbins of history.

After the ceremony we had some champagne in the park. Yes, you can have open containers publicly in Argentina. Guess what? There are no more drunks wandering around there than anywhere else. Then we went to a Tenedor Libre, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet of pasta, salad, grilled meats, desserts and more for about 12 bucks a person. From there we headed to Terra Nostra in Luján de Cuyo, which is 16 km from the city center and surrounded by vineyards. It is a series of 7 cabins that could use some updating, but holds 40 people. There is a pool, large patio, kids park toys, a foosball table and a huge grill pit area. It is perfect for a small wedding or family reunion. We had cocktails by the pool as the sun was setting. We also went to the Termas de Cacheuta. It’s maybe an hour bus ride from the city, surrounded by mountains with plenty of great restaurants, massage therapists and shops in the area all for very reasonable prices. There are hot and cold spring pools and a lazy river. The place is magical.

Saturday we did a private ceremony with friends that was fully improvised and very fun, ending with a helium balloon launch into the sky. From there the caterers set up shop by the grill station and the sit-down dinner became a stand-up affair. Terra Nostra also has a large dance hall where the deejay set up. We watched video toasts from friends, danced a bit of the Chilean Cueca and generally shook our asses until the early hours of Sunday. I like this being a “Mrs.” thing.

If you have any questions on procedural stuff in Argentina or the border crossing or whatnot, let me know.