We started this introduction to the language of Costa Rica with a selection of regular sayings and their meanings. Today, we’re continuing the rundown with some more phrases you might encounter on your holidays. We’ve included a selection of the most common, the uncommon, and the downright strange.
This applies to debt and it directly translates to tied dog. It basically means you’ve been in debt to someone for quite a while. You’re the dog and you’re tied up because you owe money. You don’t have the freedom to do what you want and you’re under the control of the creditor until you can successfully pay off your debt.
There are a lot of way you can imagine how this would look. The main theme is a loss of control, and since dogs are usually under human control this entered the language.
This is the word for parachute and is normally used to apply to people who turn up to events uninvited. With any luck, you’ll never have this term applied to you. The name appears to come from the simple action of flying in on a parachute. There’s no grand meaning or story surrounding this term.
Mae is similar to the American term ‘dude’. In the US you might hear anyone calling someone ‘dude’, but in Costa Rica it applies to someone who’s between friends. You’re acquainted with them without being friends.
This appears to be one of the areas where western intervention has succeeded. It’s a piece of slang and it’s highly likely a lot of the younger Ticos got it from their American counterparts. This isn’t something you’ll hear older Costa Ricans say.
Hasta Aquí me la Presto Dios
This rather long expression means ‘until now God borrow me’. You’ll hear someone say this if they’ve ever found themselves in a life-threatening situation. As a tourist, you’ll encounter this more than you’d expect as you’re likely to hear exciting stories from the lives of people you meet.
This clearly has a rooting in the Catholicism of Costa Rica. Even though there’s complete religious freedom in the county and a lot of people don’t identify themselves with any religion, they continue to use this term.
Buena nota is used to describe someone who has done a good deed or someone who is a good person. You might hear parents say it about their children, or women gossiping in the town. It literally means ‘good grade’. This is obviously similar to something you would say in an educational environment.
Nobody seems to quite know how it entered the mainstream language, though. If you read through our posts on how you should act whilst travelling you’ll hear this in the language of Costa Rica quite regularly.