Friday Special: Cartagena, Obama, and a donkey

The Summit of the the Americas (Cumbre de las Américas) is upon us (April 14-15). For those of you not too familiar with this event it’s when all the presidents of the Americas meet up to “solve” the problems that plague the continent. It runs every three years and this year it’s being held at Cartagena. Cuba hasn’t participated though, obviously, and this means that Chavez is all “why even have this meeting if Cuba isn’t here?”.

Presiden Obama arrived today and what looks like the whole Colombian military, along with helicopters and submarines, is there to keep him safe. Pretty much all of Cartagena has been evacuated and closed-off so the presidents can have their own private vacation, complete with a soccer game for Evo Morales and everything.  The mamertos have been all over this throwing bombs at la nacho and so today the university was closed. The best part, however, was this news. That’s right, a village near Cartagena wants to give Obama a donkey, a present like no other, to represent their love for him and the democratic party. Or does it? It seems more like sarcasm, and they’re really insulting him in Spanish, calling him “burro” (stupid, dumb). Or maybe they’re just really costeño chafa. What do you think?

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7 Responses to Friday Special: Cartagena, Obama, and a donkey

  1. E herazo says:

    You are obviously out of touch with the Colombian poor. A newborn donkey is about as much as these people can donate to anyone. And that is to them a lot of sacrifice since they use burros to accomplish their daily tasks.

    • Manu says:

      Hahaha. You are obviously out of touch with the concept of “chafa”.

      • vocabat says:

        Well, I’m out of touch with it, too. Is it just cheap/shoddy? Is it a common word in Colombia? I know it’s big in Mexican Spanish.

      • Manu says:

        Good question. The concept of chafa probably deserves its own post. I can’t really give you a translation, but I can give you examples of it. I would venture to say that chafa is something like the essence of latin culture. Do you remember how the transportation system here is a bunch of these different busetas and you hail them down? I would call that system of transportation chafa. First, the busetas are sometimes so small that I can’t even ride in them standing up. Second, the signs on them make it almost impossible for foreigners to use since they don’t really know the city very well. Third, have you seen the decorations inside the busetas, the virgin mary or jesus stickers, or even those nature stickers? Now that’s chafa. How about the way streets are fixed. In the place I used to live before (castilla) there was a terrible road with huge, huge potholes. One time some random people came by and made this fire in the middle of the road and then proceeded to melt some of the road there and “fix” the pothole, you can imagine how that turned out. I would call those people chafa. You getting the idea? It’s a kind of unsophistication that’s so wonderful and probably one of the reason why I love living here so much, I have never met such chafa people latin pepole, except maybe my friend Tian from China.

  2. vocabat says:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. Forget the busses? ¡Cómo olvidarlas! The potholes were also terrible– espantosos. I struggle for a translation as well– words that come to mind are cheap, hodgepodge, ghetto, pragmatic. In Spanish, I think of chanda, recursivos–? There are good things and bad things about it all. So are you there for a good long while now? I’m going to be back in Colombia in July (just visiting) with a friend.

    • Manu says:

      Hehe. Yeah, something like cheap or ghetto, I used to say “the ghetto way”. Chafa is not used in Colombia at all, but something along the lines of chiviado, chimbón (chimbonada) or marca gato (for objects) or even ficticio. Chanda is mostly for people who are ghetto or mean (or both) sort of like ñámpira, but without that will-probably-rob-me connotation, it’s also what you call dogs on the street.

      I’ll be staying in Colombia for at least 4 years until I finish my philosophy/history studies. Where will you be visiting in Colombia? If you’ll be in bogotá and we coincide (I might be traveling) maybe we can go out for coffee.

      • vocabat says:

        Yeah, I’d like that. I’ll be there at the end of July/beginning of August. I’ll let you know.

        Aha! Not used in Colombia– that’s what I was driving at. I just never heard it (which doesn’t mean much– I wasn’t there long), so I was wondering if I’d just been clueless. Thanks for the other words.

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