Saturday, April 25, 2009


Baro (BA-dough) is a word that comes from the greek term that means pressure or weight (as in barometer). In Spanish "weight" is "peso", and "peso" is the currency in Mexico. Therefore, baro is used as a substitute of "peso" in expressions like:

Préstame dos mil baros, ¿no?
Can I borrow two thousand pesos?

Baro can also be used as a synomym of dinero (money) as a reference to cash or wealth:

Don Ramón: Me gustaría invitar a Doña Florinda a cenar, pero no traigo baro.
Chavo: Doña Florinda es una arribista buscando un marido de baro.

Don Ramon: I would love to take Doña Florinda out for dinner but I'm broke
Chavo: She's an arriviste looking for a wealthy husband.

Baro is also used to refer to something cheap and therefore of questionable quality in the expression "de a baro", meaning "worth one peso" or approximately 8 cents of a dollar:

Beto: ¿Qué te regalaron tus suegros en navidad?
Enrique: Un pinche suéter de a baro.
Beto: What did your in-laws give you for Christmas?
Enrique: A stupid and cheap cardigan.

In the image below is one baro coin from the 1960s.


Cacique (Kah-SEE-keh) is a prehispanic word that refers to a person that controls politically or economically certain region. Chilangos and Mexicans from other regions use the term cacique to denote that a vendor has monoply power refelcted in obscenely high prices.

Chano: No tengo nada de chupe y ya son las tres de la mañana.
Chon: ¿Vamos a la vinata de Don Rutilio?
Chano: Nel, es super cacique. Mejor le tocamos a la vecina.

Chano: I have no more liquor and it's three in the morning.
Chon: Shall we go to Don Rutilio's convenience store?
Chano: Nope, he's a small time robber baron. We'd better knock on your neighbor's door.

Monday, April 20, 2009

De a Grapa

De a grapa literally means "of the staple". It is used instead of the bland expression "gratis" or "de a gratis", which means that you do not have to pay for it, that is free.

Señorita: Disculpe pero yo no pedí esta margarita doble.
Cantinero: Es de a grapa por ser guapa--No es cierto, son 120 pesos.

Young girl: Excuse me Sir, I did not order this double margarita.
Bar tender: It's free because your beatiful--just kidding, it's 8 dollars, please.

(Notice that "de a grapa" rhymes with "guapa.")

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reina & derivatives

Reina (lit. queen) is a rather poetic reference heavily used by Chilangos in one of four forms. First, reina is utilized by merchants to refer in a most respectful way to a potential female customer or marchanta--sometimes as a substitute and sometimes as a complement of güerita (lit. blondie).

Second, the diminutive version, reinita, is used to denote an attractive woman with fine manners.

Third, reinota, is used to refer to a voluminous woman for whom the most appealing trait is quantity (rather than quality): six foot hotties will always be reinotas.

Fourth, reinaje is a singular term that means a collection of an unspecified number of reinitas, reinas and reinotas.


In the market: ¿Ora no lleva aguacates reina?
[You ain't getting avocados this time my queen?]

En ese antro, pura reinita de la Ibero.
[In that club you find only fine-mannered hotties that attend expensive colleges.]

Me pase seis meses de huevos en Praga, rodeado de pura reinota.
[I spent six awesome months in Prague, surrounded by voluminous beautiful girls.]

En las fiestas de ese güey el reinaje es de alto calibre.
[In that dude's parties girls are always high caliber.]

In every case, referring to women as reinas is a speech figure meaning that guys are "at their service." In the image you can see a true reinita, Queen Gorgo from the popular movie "300."

Friday, April 10, 2009


As in any over populated city, finding parking space in Mexico is a big hassle. Thanks to the laissez-faire attitude of the city government a new occupation has arisen: the franelero (frannel-AEro, lit. flannel-boy or flannel-man).

Franeleros are professional hoggers of parking spots on the streets that surround office and entertainment districts. They usually get to the spot before sunrise (in the case of office districts) or sunset (in the case of entertainment districts) and locate crates (huacales) on the street to prevent drivers from parking. Then, when a potential parker shows up they ask for a fee that usually includes a mandatory surcharge for a half-ass car wash.

The word franelero comes from the fact that they wave at drivers with a piece of flannel when they lure them to take a parking spot and when they help them park (echando aguas).

The editors of this blog recommend to play along with these dudes and do not incite them to any retaliation (by forcing them to move their huacales or not paying the fee). Otherwise you might find your car scratched, on bricks or you might not find it at all, when you come back.

The image below shows the discontent of some business owners with franeleros that not only charge a fee but require drivers to leave the keys.