Aquí y allá

Guess who’s back? It’s not Usher or Justin Timberlake, but I got some flavor. I hope you missed these posts, and I apologize for not writing every week as usual. But the important part is that today, I’m here to write about the most exciting culture in the World: Boricuas (and the page has a new look, hope you like it). Today it won’t be about how we are in the Island, but how we are were we leave.

san-juan-puerto-rico-capitol-caribbeanAs you should already know, Boricuas are unique; food, music, people, folklore, everything is awesome for us and many people who visit. On the Island, Puerto Ricans are proud of what they are. And we show it every time. Among us we can say many bad things about everything, and we are always right. “This should be done for the economy”, “that person should be the governor instead of this dummy (because I don’t want to use the real adjective we would use)”, “this is the rate we should pay for utilities”, “this is the reason why the economy is going down the drain”. If you are not Boricua and find yourself in a conversation like this with Boricuas, DO NOT say anything to add to this. Let’s say, for example, that you are Colombian, or Russian. We start talking about how this government is kicking us and playing with our money. If you feel like adding something like: “You are right. This government sucks! These leaders you chose are hypocrites and should be kicked out”, we will tell you in not many words, and many of them not in the dictionary, to fly your butt back to the whole where you came from. WE are entitled to say awful things about the Island, but nobody else should, even when we know they are right.

Lin Manuel Miranda
Lin Manuel Miranda

But what happens when Boricuas move to another place in the World? Are we as proud of Borinquen as when we were here? No. We increase the pride by 200%. Have you ever heard of a Puerto Rico Day Parade in Puerto Rico? No, and if there was, most likely we would not go because it is dumb. But the one in NYC is a different story. Boricuas born here, their sons and daughters born in New York and from different states will be partying for at least three days. And those who can’t make it to the parade will buy a 50 inch TV to watch it and party for three days. In Puerto Rico, you will not see a car with a license plate hanging from the cars rear view mirror that says the town you are from. I was in DC for more than a year (if you combine the three times I was there) and I think I saw 78 cars with stuff like that, one for every town in the Island. And what about our flag? In the Island we fight over what flag should be up and for how long. But when we fly out, we use pins, necklaces, hats, caps, cups, plates, glasses, contact lenses; you name it, with our flag. There is an episode of the TV show House in which the doctor is now in a Psychiatric Hospital. His roommate happens to be Boricua. If you are not Boricua, you would imagine that someone hire a non-Boricua actor as it happens every time. How did I knew this guy or someone close to the writers is Boricua? In the room wall there was a Boricua flag in his side of the bed. It turns out, the actor is really a Boricua and a Tony Award Winner, Lin Manuel Miranda (Orgullo Boricua Coño!!!!!). I’m sure he even brought the flag to the set when they were filming (that’s something only a Boricua does).

But there is a small problem Boricuas have when we travel. Even if its for a week, Boricuas start using or speaking the language of the place visited. And we make fun of ourselves: “Mira quien habla ingles ahora. Se cree gringo! (Look who’s speaking English now!)” But don’t say I told you this. I have given you guys a lot of information. Use it wisely. Until next time, cójanlo suave!


Español Boricua

If you have been following my posts, even if you have only read one, you have noticed that this is a kind of tutorial thing; a “how-to” survival guide. You have to know how Boricuas do things so you can understand and enjoy your time when you are around us. Today is no exception. Spanish is a special language and there is no one way to speak Spanish. I mean, if your primary language is not Spanish and you learned it at school, you can survive pretty much in any Spanish-speaking country. When you learn English, you can survive anywhere in the United States at least. For example, a pumpkin is a pumpkin in NYC and in Texas (most likely the one is Texas is bigger). I will go over a couple of examples of words in Spanish and it’s translation in English.


The first one is pumpkin. As I said, in NYC and Texas is the same thing. The Spanish translation in Puerto Rico is calabaza but in Venezuela is auyama. How can that be? Spanish should be Spanish, right? If you want a watermelon in Boston, you ask kindly for one. If you are in Venezuela, after they looked at you funny for asking for a calabaza, you should ask for a patilla(for us Boricuas, that word means sideburns). In Borinquen if you want a watermelon you should ask for a sandía or melón. If you want a good drink  in Perú a chicha is nice, but not even close to what it means in Puerto Rico (but it’s still good). Same language, but the word is different.

Everyone in Puerto Rico has enjoyed a great quenepa from Ponce or Juana Diaz. But if you go to Cuba (you need a passport for that, don’t forget) they eat mamoncillos. In USA, it means Spanish lime and no matter where you eat it its still delicious. I remember when we were kids, my father used to bring us parcha. If you know me at all, you would know I don’t eat that fruit, but in Colombia it’s called granadilla, and in Barack Obama’s turf is called Passion Fruit. I know my family loved it, but they did not feel the “Passion” of the fruit.

Arroz guisao’

When you consider that América Latina covers from México all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, it kind of makes sense. It’s more than half of America (and I mean America, not United States OF America), and with all the years of history it makes sense of the difference in words. What is really funny is that in an Island as big as mine, we have differences too. In my hometown of Cidra, and also in the north side of the Island, a vellón is a five cents coin while in the south it is referred as a ficha. In English is just a five cent coin. In the north side Boricuas cook rice in a caldero and make sancocho in an olla (a big one, I should say). In Ponce (because they think they are special) they refer to both things the other way around. In English, you use a pot, a bigger one for stews. If you want a lollipop, is either a paleta or pilón, and if you want to have a pony tail you use a pinche (which in México is a totally different thing) or hebilla to hold it.

Our language is what identifies us with our fellow Latinos. The words we use, the way we say them and the letters we never learned to pronounce (or we choose not to) makes Boricuas unique. There is no other culture like ours and we are proud that it is that way. So, if you have other words like these or expressions in “Spanish” you want to share, feel free to. Leave a comment, or email it to me at and I will make a special post about it. Make sure to share this post. Until next time, cójanlo suave!