Refranes Castellanos; Also known as what the hell do you mean?


“say what…?”


Refranes … how I love them!  The truth is once you can master the refranes, that is when you know you’re bilingual status in another language.  Refranes are commonly used expressions to impart wisdom … in other words “Sayings”. These are brilliant in my respectful opinion.  The one thing that makes the language and culture rich are these expressions.

I remember the first time I one was on a car ride here in Madrid.  I was with a couple of then colleages and one of them said, “te canto las cuarentas”.  In that context she was basically telling me “let me tell you how it really is”.  However, in my head I translated it as “I will sing you the 40”.  I thought to myself, “what the hell does she mean?”  I remember thinking I will need a separate dictionary just for refranes.   I have kept a long list since I have gotten here.  I think I will keep a page just for them and just keep adding as I go.

So here are just a few.  Enjoy!

  • “no vendas la piel del oso antes de cazarlo” literal translation is “don’t sell the bear skin before hunting it.”.  The Spain version of  “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
  • “dos no discuten si uno no quiere”  literal translation..  “two can not argue if one does not want to.”  We have a similar one in English.   It is “it takes two to tango”  I don’t know why we use “tango” .. In this case I believe the Spanish version makes more sense.
  • “esta como un tren”  Ladies, this when you see a hot guy and it literally means “he is like a train”.
  • “estar pensando en las musaraña”  Literal translation means “to think in the shrews.”  This one has a bit of history.  One of  Spain’s writers wrote a book and explained this description as daydreaming.
  • “dos que duermen en el mismo colchón se vuelven de la misma condición”. Literal translation  “two that sleep in the same mattress become of the same condition.”  It’s similar to “birds of a feather stick together ”  However,  not quite. It’s like saying that their opinions are rubbing off on each other.
  • “allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.”  Our English version is “when in Rome do as the Romans.”
  • “Que me quiten lo bailao” … literally means Let them take away my dancing.  Our meaning, ” they can not take away my fun.”
  • “Quien se pica ajos come”. Now on this I have heard two definitions to this one.  So If any of my Spanish follower would not mind leaving a comment below which is correct.  It would be greatly appreciated. First explanation, If someonw says something and it does not sit well with you it is probably because you have some involvement in the situation.  Or … ” If the shoe fits wear it.”
  • ” No esta el horno para bollos”.  literally means the oven is not for buns. ( My favorite one)  It’s like saying you are not in the mood or don’t “F” with me.
  • ” No dar pie con Bola” direct translation is “to not give foot with ball”  It means, to not be able to resolve or figure it out.

I am sure this is probably me… but I feel this is what makes learning a language fun.  What do you think?  If you have any other expressions please leave a comment below.


Coffee Break TIME … If you learn anything go to Coffee Break time

Coffee break-time here is a bit of a religious experience regardless of the business or work environment you are employed in.   I would probably compare it to the Happy Hour festivities we partake in the states.  Let me explain.  I know it sounds confusing but it is probably one of the few traditions that Spaniards and Americans have in common, but the Spaniards have taken it to all new heights as is their nature.

Regardless of your work environment in Spain, there is a an early morning break that everyone participates in and almost appears to be mandatory through an unspoken rule that is known to everyone.  In the school where I teach, the coffee break-time is usually when my coworkers take the opportunity to catch up on what they did the previous weekend and discuss work issues, but most importantly the break allows everyone to establish and reinforce coworker comradery.

I quickly learned last year that if you want any chance to make friends here in Spain, you have to participate in coffee break-time.  Everyone knows I am not really a fan of coffee partially because my doctor says I am not allowed to have it because of a particular medical condition I have.  The irony for me is the Spanish are fervent coffee aficionados.   Coffee break-time, on several occasions, has served as an icebreaker between my colleagues and me and is responsible for getting me several invitations to other events including an invitation to take trips to fellow teachers’ hometowns.  Coffee break-time is also responsible for landing me other job opportunities in the form of providing private English lessons.

Coffee break-time consists of more than just coffee.  It is usually a very light breakfast that includes pastries, coffee, toast and jam.  We Americans would basically refer to this as a continental breakfast.  Local coffee shops happily accommodate this customary morning tradition.  Most (if not all) coffee shops here offer a serving of coffee with a bolleria (pastry) at a usual fixed price between 2.20-2.50 .  Not bad if you are a baller on a budget!

So even if you’re not much of a coffee drinker like yours truly, have an alternative like hot coco and participate in the tradition and see where the experience will lead.  I, for one, am sold on this tradition.

First last day

With my luck I end up in Luck.

With my luck I end up in luck.

October 1st – I get off at Las Suertas Metro stop as I have done countless times before, but this time I am excited and apprehensive so I psych myself up by playing  “Dangerous Paradise” by Coolio on my phone.  A fitting song considering the area where I teach.  I know I have not shared much about my school but partly it is because I’ve kept a journal of the shenanigans my kids say and do.

Truthfully speaking, my school is in a tough neighborhood.  However,  that is part of the reason I wanted to repeat the second year.  Nothing has been as rewarding as walking through the corridors of the school and being greeted with the countless “hello’s”, hugs and kisses I receive daily from my children.

The realization has suddenly hit me that this is going to be my last year here at this school.    So this year I am going to be in the moment.

“You’re worried how you’re going to feel at the end of your life?  What about right now?  LIVE.  Right this moment.  That’s where the joy is at.”  – Abigail Thomas

Enjoy all my students’ out-of-this-world comments, faces and stories.  So here is the way I am going to start my year.