chévere

chévere
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!
chévere

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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.

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.