Monday, April 27, 2015

Weg'i Domino & Wara Wara -- Quirks of #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

The sharp crack of tiles against wood -- domino tiles, that is -- is a trademark sound of Curaçao streets. At every bus stop and taxi depot, at every snék (when the bachata music isn't too loud--and sometimes even then). Crack! Crack! Crack-CRACK-crack! They follow one another at impossible speed, as if the game is about who slaps them down faster.

And, in a way, I suppose it is.

One of these taxi drivers at the Otrobanda depot gave me
a curt nod as I held up my camera in a non-verbal question.
I snapped away for a good three minutes, but none of them ever looked
my way again.

Like those chess tables in parks, where it's a matter of pride how fast you make your moves, in Curaçao the weg'i dominoe is not just about the right plays but about the speed at which you make them.

The full phrase is

wega di domino
[WHE-gah dee DO-mee-noh]
Literally: game of dominoe

but no one says that. It's always

weg'i domino
[WHE-guee DO-mee-noh]
("game o' dominoe", I suppose comes closest)

Here's something really quirky about Curaçao (too quirky to use as a bonus question):

The Wara Wara [war-ah-WAR-ah], aka Cara-Cara elsewhere, is Curaçao's most ubiquitous (I'd say only, but what do I know) bird of prey. Out in the mondi (the wild) -- which is pretty close to civilization, really -- you can see them soaring up in the big blue, specks of brown flying high, high... Talk about a bird's eye view of the island.

And when you rent a car in Curaçao, it comes equipped with a Wara Wara

Yo, Wara Wara! I'm lost, swa. Any chance you know how to get to Montanja Abou?
(Image source)
No, Hertz doesn't have a roomful of cages with these birds in them, and they don't have one tetherered to each car's antenna. It's the GPS navigator. In Curaçao it's called Wara Wara. (God, I love this island.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Viña! (but not Del Mar) -- Quirks of Language in #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

Literally: vine

Yep. As in the vine that gives vineyards their name. In context, however, it does not mean vine -- it means wine.

Is it weird that, whenever I hear people order wine in Papiamentu -- red (viña korá) or white (viña blanku) -- I still half expect the waiter to come back with a strand of something leafy and green?

Vines growing at an alarmingly fast rate in Curaçao's first vineyard.
Did you know Curaçao now has its own winery? The Rock is growing viña, people -- the plant and the drink :) Gorgeous setting in an old landhuis (plantation house), right by the ocean... It's lovely even if you don't like wine. But if you do, first harvest bottles will be available this summer. (Yes, I'll sacrifice myself and have a private tasting to report here on the blog... Just for you ;) )

Unda Punda -- Quirks of Language in #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

I'm running behind, I know... It's been a hectic month. Besides the A-to-Z, my publisher and I are busy wrapping up THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS for the NYC launch in September -- final edits and tweaks, illustrations (my idea, not so great in retrospect), planning, drumming up support from official sources... Anyway, more on all that later. The point is I apologize for the lack of consistency in these posts. And my unending gratitude to all you who keep coming back in spite of it :)

"Hey, Cor. Unda Punda?"
"Right here, swa!"
Papiamentu doesn't have many U words. After months of research, only one friend came up with a U expression -- which, by the way, no one else seems to recognize, so it might well be him giving rein to his creativity and pulling my leg (and now all of yours -- kudos, Miguel). Or it might be a kind of in-joke, something only a certain group of people use.

Either way, I'd rather give you something of questionable origin and a disclaimer than forfeit U day. (And isn't the fact that people can make up this kind of stuff and feed it to us foreigners with impunity a pretty cool quirk, even if it's not exclusive to Curaçao?)

unda Punda
[OON-dah POON-dah]
Literally: where (is) Punda?

If you've been following this A-to-Z series (or if you read this post), you know this makes no sense. Punda is Side A of the island's capital. Anyone who speaks Papiamentu knows, without a shadow of a doubt, exactly where Punda is.

No, of course they're not asking for directions. What this means, according to my (debatably reliable) source, is where's it happening? Where's the party? Where's it at?

Dude's looking a bit clueless there. Bet you he'd be no help if you asked "Unda Punda?"
You know what? I don't care if the expression actually exists, or whether anyone except my friend uses it. I'm going to start using it. It sounds cool.

Fail-safe method to discover "unda Punda" -- follow the steel band. They'll know :)
Congratulations to the blogger at Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace -- tiki is, indeed, "little". (After April, when someone asks you if you can speak Papiamentu, you can say, "a tiki" ;) )

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Truk'i Pan -- Quirks of Language in #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

It's actually

truk di pan
[TROOK - dee - PAHN]

but -- go on, say that fast five times. Uh-huh, that K and D don't really jibe, do they?

So, at the speed of speech (especially Papiamentu speech--speed, I mean), it becomes

truk'i pan

Ahhh... So much easier on the tongue :D

This is a quirk of language and custom, but let's start with the language part. Truk is, of course, truck. And pan is the Spanish word for bread. Thus: bread truck -- but the last thing you'll find on one is bread.

I'll let the video do the explaining...

So... yeah. After a late night, you'll find us all at the bread truck -- eating anything but bread. It's good stuff, though. Except for the pinda saus (peanut sauce). I'm so not a fan. Which means I need to be fast and furious about reminding them -- several times -- to not slosh it over mine. 

(And I always get weird looks. Like, you don't like pinda saus? Is that even possible?)

Today's bonus word:

(Hint: it's nothing to do with tiki lamps)

Fine, hint #2: At a truk'i pan, when I ask for no pinda saus, the guy's jaw will drop and he'll most probably ask me, "Not even a tiki?" 

Swa -- #Curaçao Expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015

(just like the swa in swap or swatch or swan)
Literally: brother-in-law (from the Dutch zwager)
In context: man, bro

Swa is to Papiamentu what man (or bro) is to English.

Watch out for that lamppost, swa.

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