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.
I choller, you choller--or, like that famous phrase from You Know You've Lived in Curaçao If:

"... if you've ever chollered something."

A choller, because of his/her lifestyle of little (physical) baggage, has few needs. Clothing is worn until it falls apart, shoes are totally optional, haircuts unnecessary. Because of the drugs, even food isn't a must.

But drugs are. And they cost money.

They do odd jobs, if they find them--and if their health allows it; sadly, most have some kind of mental disorder, whether drug-induced or otherwise. Sometimes they beg. But their most reliable source of income is chollering.

At a construction site, a few bricks might go missing. A cellphone left unattended at a sidewalk cafe table might not last long. A pair of shoes left on a beach might not be there when you get back. Clothes set out to dry on a line too close to the street, or in a yard unprotected by dogs, might disappear. (And your favorite t-shirt show up later on the back of your neighborhood choller.)

Stealing, yes. But at a small-scale, opportunistic level. Something like purloin, I suppose. A car doesn't get chollered, nor does a TV or a car stereo. Pick-pocketing wouldn't be chollering, either.

But, as my fantastic friend Yolanda Wiel explained, "say a small business--handmade furniture, for instance--uses "I'm Living It" as a slogan. They've chollered that from McDonald's."

(If I didn't quote Yolanda, I'd be chollering this explanation.)


  1. Interesting :)
    I was homeless twice in my life, once in Hawaii, once in the bay area. The tropics are definitely a better place to be a vagabond.
    I like the term chollering. It describes a necessary part of surviving, in my opinion, and for me, is much easier to understand, and overlook. If somebody needs my shirt or shoes, they can choller them :)
    Great post!

    1. I agree, Judy, and you'll be happy to know that here in Curaçao chollering isn't really considered a crime... Calling the police on a choller is frowned upon, and most people help the neighborhood chollers out as much as they can. The chollers return the favor by keeping an eye out for gangs and other serious criminals; a choller might spot some shady characters staking out the block and prevent your house being burgled by sauntering past and striking up a conversation with them. It's one of the things I love about this island: the laid-back attitude of live and let live, the sense of community that excludes no one.

      Thanks for the visit!

  2. I'd say it's definitely better to be homeless where it's warm, but it's still a sad situation. Chollering is a term I've never heard before. It fits the circumstances well. Thanks for the education, Guilie!

  3. Loved this post!
    I learned something. And I laughed some too. I enjoy your humor.

  4. Hi Guilie .. interesting term - but can quite see your explanation - it's necessary for them to survive ... not get taken off to prison. Thanks - interesting .. cheers Hilary


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