Thursday, April 30, 2015

X + Y + Z -- Three (Last) Quirks of #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)


In Curaçao, crossings are one of the many quirks used to trap us foreigners into hilarious clueless entertainment for locals.

Roundabout in Otrobanda
There's your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill roundabout or traffic circle. We all know the rules for that: if you're in the circle, you have preference. If you're outside the circle, you yield.

And then there's the plénchi di tráfiko.

Part of the reason this post is so late is because I couldn't
get a good image of a plénchi di tráfiko. Sorry. But this sign
is just before one of the island's most well-transited plénchi di tráfiko:
the one on the way to Banda Abou and Westpunt and the most gorgeous
beaches you've seen in your life.
To me, it looks for all the world like a roundabout -- sure, a bit irregular, like not the perfect circle roundabouts tend to be, but a roundabout nonetheless. A circular intersection. And so, as I enter into one, I yield.

And get honked all the way to Banda Abou.

In a plénchi di tráfiko it's traffic from the right that has preference. So as I enter I have preference, but then I must yield to the next intersecting road -- because it's coming from my right.

(It took me a good two years to learn that, because there are no signs.)

Yu di Kòrsou
Literally: young (as in "child") of Curaçao

Yu di Kòrsou, shortened to YDK, has become ubiquitous.
"United we stand," reads the caption.
Yu di Kòrsou is what Curaçao natives call themselves -- not Curaçaoans, not Antilleans. But one can become a yu di Kòrsou, too, and not necessarily by a change in citizenship. When someone displays behavior that's unique to Curaçao -- using, for instance, the expressions in this A-to-Z series -- or when someone has lived in Curaçao for a long time, or even if they haven't but exhibit obvious and extreme love for the island and its food and customs... Yep. All of these are qualifications for being a yu di Kòrsou.

But the opposite is also true. If you're critical of the lifestyle, if you don't like Curaçao food, if you're no fan of Carnaval or Sèu or the tumba festival or if you don't like tambú, or if you just think differently -- what some would call out of the box -- then it doesn't matter if you were born in Curaçao and have lived all your life here. You'll still find yourself seldom being referred to as a yu di Kòrsou. Especially if you're white. And if your skin is dark, then you'll more often hear the pariah term of black macamba (wigger, but in reverse).

And last but certainly not least:

English: hangover

Perhaps the most important addition to your vocabulary if you ever visit Curaçao ;)

This is it, the end of the #AtoZChallenge. I've had a blast researching for these posts, and I hope you've enjoyed them -- and, besides learning some funky expressions, gained a bit of insight to this cultural melting-pot of an island I've chosen to call home. It's been a pleasure to share Curaçao with you.

Te aki ratu, dushi hende!

Okay, we'll use that phrase as the last bonus question of the series. No hints... well, just one. In English, the equivalent is often paired with alligator :)

(Find updates on the giveaway here, and come back on May 8th for the announcement of the three winners of THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS, a collection of short stories set in Curaçao.)

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.

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.

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!"

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.

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Redu! -- Quirks of Language in #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

Literally: gossip (n.)
(the verb is, officially at least, redashi)
Origin: I think it comes from the Spanish enredo, though the Dutch (roddel) is also close. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

(No More) Queen's Day -- Quirks of #Curacao in the #AtoZChallenge 2015

Okay, so this isn't really language-related, and it's not exclusive to Curaçao. But, this island being part of the Dutch kingdom, I think it qualifies as a quirk I can expound on for my Q post. (And, also, there are no Q words in Papiamentu.)

On April 30, 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated in favor of her son, Willem Alexander, thereby giving the Dutch kingdom its first king in over a century -- and putting an end to one hundred and twenty-plus years of celebrating Queen's Day.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Otrobanda & Punda -- Quirks of #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

Seeing as I missed yesterday's O post, you're entitled to a two-for-one today. And Curaçao has a unique feature for that.

Downtown Willemstad, the capital (and only) city of Curaçao, is divided--quite literally, and quite conveniently for this post--in two by the Sint Annabaai (Bay of Saint Anna). It's more of a channel than a bay--part of the natural harbor that made Curaçao so valuable to Spanish and Portuguese and Dutch merchant ships (or pirates, depending on which side you're on) back in the days when transatlantic voyaging was a novelty.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nèchi -- #Curacao expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015

Origin: the Dutch netjes [NET-yes]
Literally: Nice, neat (cute, beautiful, good-looking)

Yep. That simple. Nice.

The Handelskade in Curaçao is probably the most nèchi waterfront in all the Caribbean.
(But maybe I'm a tad biased.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Master! (#AtoZChallenge 2015)


In Curaçao, anything good is dushi--food, people, good times. But if it's beyond good, approaching the extraordinary, then it's master.

(Give that E a full second, and roll the R. Yes. Ei ta palu!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Laf! -- #Curaçao expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015

Remember that post about ferfelu and how it differs from its (probable) Dutch root of vervelend? Same case today... but worse. (Well, funnier.)

(yep... just like "laugh")

but it's not "laugh".

Monday, April 13, 2015

Konpolaga! -- #Curaçao expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015

It's actually

kon por laga

but at the speed of speech the R tends to disappear--yes, also from the spelling. You'll find it (and hear it) more often as


Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is a blank -- #Curacao expressions on #AtoZChallenge 2015

There are no words that start with J in Papiamentu.

I knew you wouldn't believe me, so here's a screenshot of the dictionary.
Last word in the I section is italiano. Then comes the J section. Then comes the K.

No words with J. None.

How cool is that?

(Not that I have anything against J; it's just I find these quirks of Papiamentu fascinating.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Infrou -- #Curaçao vocabulary (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

If there is one thing that Curaçao has a lot of, it's cacti. (Kadushi, in Papiamentu.)

Hopi kadushi, no? ;)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hesusé! (& Hopi, & Hodé) -- #Curaçao Expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015)

Because in Papiamentu the J is pronounced the Dutch way (as Y), any J words sourced from Spanish or Portuguese are spelled with H. Which makes H a popular section in a Papiamentu dictionary. (And my life difficult for J day.)

Literally: Jesus-eh
In context: Oh, god (negative), Wow (positive).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gañá! (#AtoZChallenge 2015)


Literally: "You jest." (From the verb gaña [GAH-njah], which means deceive, joke, lie.) It's what you say when your jaw drops in disbelief.

"Is the water in Curaçao really that clear? Gañá!
I don't believe it!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ferfelu (#AtoZChallenge 2015)


Papiamentu borrows not just from Dutch (Papialands, Papiamentu + Nederlands) but from Spanish and English (Papianish? Englamentu?) on a regular basis. With time, some foreign words have become Papiamentized (my term)--incorporated into the language as more than just loans. Their spelling has changed, and, though usage, even their meaning has transformed.

Such is the case with ferfelu.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Choller (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

(Bit late with my C post, I know. I'll catch up, I promise.)

A choller at sunset.
(Image source)
Vagabond. Bum. Homeless person. Urchin. Junkie. Which certainly aren't exclusive of Curaçao, and actually aren't even all that ubiquitous here. (I'd rather be homeless in the tropics than in, say, Michigan. Or New York. But maybe that's just me.)

What is unique to Curaçao is the verb. Chollering.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Banda Ariba & Banda Abou (#AtoZchallenge 2015)

"Take the highway north for five miles, then take the exit to the east 
and follow that road south for three blocks..." 

... said no one in Curaçao, ever.

The best beaches, the best diving, favorite BBQ spots, moonscapes where ocean meets cliff in spectacular explosion...
It's all in Banda Abou.

In Curaçao, the only directions you need are upwards and downwardsBanda ariba and banda abou. (Banda means side.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ai No! (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

Ai no! 

Literally "Oh no." Contextually, however, when it comes to Papiamentu words and expressions... there's more to translation than meets the Ai.
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