Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Cat got the Canaries

El Tigre returns from his vacacciones, in Las Islas Canarias.
Situated some 100 miles off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands are the most westerly of Spains autonomous communities, and were a stopping off point for adventurers setting out to plunder the New World.

The people are open and friendly, and Tourism plays a big part in the economy of most of the islands.
The weren't always so welcoming though. Horation Nelson lost an arm in an attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

I had loads of opportunities to practise my Spanish with the locals, who were all very patient, and quite prepared to give me time to think, rather than reverting back to English, which they have to use with most of the Tourists. They really appreciate you having a go.

A big thank you to Reina Cárdenas, an expatriate Mexican lady who works, attracting customers into the excellent Asado Tio Bernabé restaurant in Corralejo, on Fuerteventura, and who made time for a chat, in Spanish, on more than one occasion.

So, enough of the travelogue, and on with a few local expressions.

"Tate quieto bobo mierda"
"Behave, you idiot"

"!!Cojelo Cuco¡¡"
An expression of amazement (Like the Yorkshire expression "By 'eck!")

"Pareces un machango"
"You look extremely scruffy"

"Se le pusieron los ojos como a un cherne"
"Your eyes nearly popped out of your head" (i.e. you couldn't stop staring at something)

"Vaya chuso, tiro p'al chozo"
"It's slinging it down (raining), I'm going home"

You'll also notice that the Canarians don't use the 'seseo', the characteristic lisp heard in other parts of Spain, and sound more like their South American cousins, many of whose ancestors probably set sail from these islands.

Finally, a little more history. The Canaries aren't named after the birds, but from the Latin Expression 'Canariae Insulae' which means Island of Dogs, and was originally applied only to Gran Canaria. You'll see stickers eveywhere on that island with silhouttes of the emblematic local dog breed, rather like a mastiff.

The local 'mascot' of Fuerteventura is the goat, in fact the capital, Puerto del Rosario, was know as Puerto del Cabra (Port of the Goat) as recently as the 1950's.
You might find goat on the menu at Tio Bernabé's too!

So, visit the Canaries. Speak Spanish. Eat. Drink. Get some sun. Enjoy.