This is not an exclusively Venezuelan word…but it gets used a million times a day by everybody, here.

Chévere (CHE-vreh), used as an adjective, can describe a person who is extremely well-liked, cool, nice, fun, good, clever, and so forth.

It also describes things, places, events, situations that are great, fun, entertaining, agreeable, excellent. Una pelicula chévere…(an excellent movie), “el destino más Chévere del Caribe…”(“The coolest place in the Caribbean…” -from an advertising campaign by Venezuela’s Ministry of Tourism).

Whittled down to a word or two, it is used in expressions like “¡Que chévere!” (Awesome!), the statement “Chévere.” (Cool.) or the question “¿Comó estas, Natalia…chévere?

Of course I am…having a fantastic time, painting these fun little canvases of Venezuelan slang words, as a kind of side-project while I am waiting for gourds to dry…

We will be sailing away this week, after four fantastic months in Venezuela. As always, I hate to leave, now that I know the place reasonably well, have made friends, finally feel relaxed and at-ease, established a ‘home routine’ (not much more than reading a lot and painting), going about on my own. We have so much to thank Venezuela for. Despite the troubles and the difficulties, it is a gorgeous country, and the people really are super pana. We also made huge inroads in learning the Spanish language while we were here, and I will never really be able to speak the language without remembering these past four beautiful months.

But there’s also so much to look forward to: Jamaica, Cuba (woo hoo!), Colombia, Haiti, Guatemala, Panama…Chévere!

Hasta luego, mis panas!

8 tracks : : chévere!

A bunch of tracks, purchased during our four months in Venezuela, that served as a kind of background to our stay. As my Spanish improved, so did my enjoyment of the music I heard around me, which suddenly spoke to me out of the chaos of exotic-sounding words.

I made friends with a dapper old gentleman who owns a music shop near the local market, and he gave me a short, intense education in salsa music…which resulted in my now having almost everything ever published by Oscar D’Leon and Willie Colon! The Argentinian Giulia y Los Tellarini is kind of like a female version of Tom Waits, with her ruined, husky voice, and smoky songs of nostalgia and damnation.

N.B. I don’t particularly LIKE Francisco Montoya, but he is an absolute must, in order to capture the true feeling of the country. This type of music is called Musica de Los Llaneros (Music of The Rangers), and is their version of country western, here. All the male singers have high, goat-like voices, and bleat to the accompaniment of a harp (strummed and plucked like a guitar), a small guitar called a cuatro, and maracas. They play it in taxis, on buses, absolutely EVERYWHERE. And most popular of all of them was Montoya. There was no escape. A playlist of Venezuela wouldn’t be complete without him.

super pana

super pana
A Spanish-English dictionary will tell you that pana (PA-nah) is corduroy or velveteen.

Not very cool…and, again, no help in the streets of Venezuela, where pana can be used as an adjective to describe people who are nice, cool, amiable, congenial.
En Venezuela, la gente es super pana.
The gregarious lady taxi driver, Paola, who yesterday made a crazy U-turn on the highway so that I could try a cocada (coconut smoothie) from the best stall in the area, was very cool, very pana.
super pana
It can also be used as a noun, and refers to your best friend, your bosom buddy, your homeboy/girl.
The friends I usually hang out with? Mi panas.

where does it hurt?

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire showed her first poem to her father at the age of 11, won an international poetry slam at 16 (“I didn’t really understand what a poetry slam was”), writes intense, sensuous poems which she has toured and read in several countries, has a BA in creative writing, published her first pamphlet in 2011, is poetry editor of the new “literary arts mashup” magazine, Spook, and runs workshops on using poetry and narrative to heal trauma. And she’s not yet 28.

Living on a prayer

Mari adil pada kemanusiaan #savehumanity selamat hari minggu 🙏

No Hay Culebra

No Hay Culebra
Along with learning proper Spanish, picking up some of the local slang words is unavoidable. These words get used so much in everyday speech—and because a huge part of my language education is comprised of striking up conversations with anyone who seems friendly and inclined to talk to me—that I have had to learn them, simply to understand what is being said.

Literally, no hay culebra means “No snake” or, “There is no snake”, and a dictionary can’t help you here, it is only likely to confuse you.

It is used, for example, at the market…when some vendor tries to overcharge me for something. It never fails to get them to lower the price to something more usual (not necessarily a bargain, but at least the price for locals, and not the extortionist rates levied on foreigners).
No Hay Culebra

An expression known mainly to Caraqueños (from Caracas), it almost always gets a delighted laugh when I use it, because it is so slangy. A lot of Venezolanos, from other parts of the country, are unfamiliar with it.