I wrote a blog yesterday and I saw another one from a CECI volunteer in Bolivia, talking about 10 words you should know in the country. Since I arrived in Guatemala, I started a list of different words also. I am from Argentina, and even though is the same Spanish language, me and my Guatemalan friends find it very different and we are always laughing about it!

By coincidence, my list is composed of exactly ten words, here they go…

1-Chapín: all things Guatemalan, including people, foods, places, traditions. It is like saying Guatemalan, but very Chapín!

2-Cabal: this was the first word my coordinator in CECI had to explain to me. He told me to learn it and use it. He said that when I will, it will mean that I am understanding the culture here. It means that the things they are saying are right, correct or exact.

3- (2 x 1) Patojos y güiro: Different words to name young people or children. It is lovely to have these alternatives to “niños o jóvenes”.

4-Chileros: This is what my friends are, and what I hope to be one day: cool! It comes from the word “chiles”, and as chiles put flavor to food, “los chileros” put spices to life!

5-Mara: Of course you have heard of the Maras Salvatruchas, gangs from El Salvador, but in this case “maras” can be groups of people, of friends, of youngsters. I love it when they say…”Tu sabes como es la mara” (you know how the mara is…) implying everything, but no, sometimes I don’t know, but I will learn shortly.

6-Colocho: this one touches me personally. This is what men call me in the streets, I guess as a compliment (and I hope so)…It can’t be information, as I most certainly know it! It means a person with very curly hair, so I learned it fast. I am also called “cancha” or the diminutive “canchita” a lot, which means blonde.

7-Pisto: Do I have some? Do you? It means money. And if we have a lot, we are “pistudas”.

8-Ik: this is the first Mayan words I learned from watching a documentary when I was preparing to come here. It means food, and it can be useful if you are desperate for some in a place that nobody speaks Spanish. But I never had to scream it yet!

9-Puro Utz: “Yo soy limpio, Puro Utz”, it’s the name of the campaign in ProAtitlán, where I work. It means “I am clean and that’s cool” from the Mayan Utz: all good. Now, this phrase is well known in the community, as we can see it on posters, stickers, and more. I may add: Guatemala, Puro utz!

10-Matiox: what can be more important than being grateful? I love to know how to say thanks in all the countries I visit. This is the Mayan world we should all know!

Matiox Chapines, matiox my wichib´il (friends in Kaqchikel) and the mara, Matiox to life to give me the gift of being here! Cabal!