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.


Eat, Drink, and Be Happy

 Everyone knows that my favorite part of the meal is dessert. If you were to ask me I would actually say that that your dessert should be served first, then the rest of the courses should follow. I know it seems rather unlikely, but what if you go into cardiac arrest or have a severe food allergy during the earlier courses of your meal. This is why I think that you should eat dessert first.

Which brings me to one of the top reasons I decided to stay in Spain. The Spanish really pride themselves on their gastronomic prowess and definitely have the right to do so. In fact, I would say Spain is probably one of the best places to eat well in Europe without burning a hole in your pocket.  The best part of the eating out experience in Spain is meeting random people and engaging in interesting conversations.

As most of you know I am not a stranger to the latter. Last October I basically lived the mantra “expect the unexpected.” As we got ready to go out this past weekend, my “Meow” friend (you know who you are) and I posed the question of what to do when you have nothing planned for the weekend. The Go-To activity – checking out the Mercados (Markets) in Spain. I know I have spoken about the Mercado of San Miguel, which is the most popular in Madrid but not necessarily the best. So this particular day we went to the mercado in San Ildefonso . It is in an unpretentious area called Malasaña . Malasaña  has an eclectic scene with bars playing music ranging from rock and metal, house music, Latin, nudist, mainstreet music and bohemian. Funky little retro shops can also be found in Malasaña.

My friend and I decided on a particular market to visit and we were seated next to two couples (communal seating is the norm here). They heard us speak in English and invited us to join in their conversation. Somewhere in the middle of the lively conversation they offered us each a pint of beer. Needless to say, the conversation became livelier and we instantly made new friends in Malasaña.

I may continue to live in Spain forever or I may return to the states or I may decide to live in an another country altogether, but wherever I end up I hope the opportunity always presents itself where I feel I can join in the merriment of the moment which transforms strangers into friends!

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.