One country, one word

To ask for a “chela”, go out to “corretear” with your “parceros” or when something is “malogrado” you need to know that Spanish is not the same in Latin America. Each country has it’s own specific words, more than what I imagined, and I chose one of each country that caught my attention.


Simon!: Means “Si”. Yes, or indeed.


Jinetero/a: To understand this one you need to know a little bit about Cuba. It was originally another name for prostitutes, but nowadays is more commonly used to describe someone trying to offer any kind of service on the street in the search for some US dollars. It could be touristic information, sell cigars or recommend a restaurant or hotel in exchange for a commission. They are everywhere, and walking in places like La Havana means that you will have them approaching you all the time.


Chilero: Nice, beautiful.

El Salvador

Gacho: Useless, broken, bad quality.


Alero: Friend


Gallo pinto: This is actually a meal that consist of rice and beans. It’s the national dish of Nicaragua, but you find variations of it everywhere from Mexico to Peru.

Costa rica

Pura vida: This is my favourite one. It means “full of life” and it’s used as a greeting or to say “this is living” or “going great”.


Fren: There are a few words like this one. It comes from the influence of the USA in Panama, and it means friend.


Parcero: It means dear friend. And it’s used very often as Colombian are very friendly and kind with people they just met.


Chulla vida: Chulla means one in Quechua, a native language from many South American countries. It means “One life”, similar to “Carpe diem” or “You only live once”.


Malogrado: This might be used in other places as well, but sadly I heard it a couple of times in Peru. It means broken.


Pichicatear: To chew coca leaves


Corretear: To go party


Just to complete the list, a couple of particularities of the Argentinean Spanish.

The first and most famous one is the use/abuse of the word “che”, which means hey, but used extensively.

Second, and the one that gives away my country of origin in every country I’ve been to is the pronunciation of the “ll” or “y” as a “sh”.


A wildcard for many countries is the word chela, which means beer, but some countries use birria, birra, pilsen or biela. And this made me get to the conclusion that the most important things have many different ways to be called.

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