I have always liked proverbs in different languages and I just came across an interesting post on a Facebook group called “Orgullosos del Léxico Canario”. These are some of my favourite Canarian proverbs.
They are an amusing glimpse of the Canarian’s outlook on life. I have translated some of them the best I could:
“Con ortiga y tomillo , te llega el pelo a los tobillos” = With nettles and thyme, your hair will reach your ankles. It could come in handy if you fancy giving the Rapunzel look a go.
“Cuando el mirlo vuela bajo, hace un frío del carajo” = When the blackbird flies low, it’s really, really cold. Most likely the poor bird is flying as close to the ground as possible to benefit from thermal properties of our volcanic islands!
“En Abril no hay papa chica, ni higo ruin” = In April there isn’t potato too small or bag fig. I take it as in: it’s a very fertile month for crops.
“Cumbre clara y mar oscura, agua segura” = Clear peak and dark sea, sure rain. Any weather observers out there than can confirm that?
“Gofio y uvas, estiran las arrugas.” = “Gofio” and grapes get rid of the wrinkles. That one is worth a try, although the proverbs doesn’t come with instructions: do you eat them or just apply as a mask on your face? Recipes anyone?
“Cuanto más alto se sube, mayor es el talegazo” = The higher you climb, the bigger the fall. My advice: don’t go up on a high horse!
“El agua se espera en la tierra y la guagua en la carretera” = Water is expected on the ground and (you wait for) the bus on the road. I’m a bit puzzled by this one. I take it that is plays with the many meanings of the word “esperar” which can be “to wait”, “to expect” or “to hope”. I am wondering if it trying to tell people to wait for the bus in the right spot. Or maybe a bit of educational reverse psychology: is is the bus driver’s telling people to wait by the road. Then again, where else would people wait: in the middle of nowhere? What kind of bizarre waiting habits do bus riding Canarians? Or maybe the more plausible interpretation: as sure as the rain falls, the bus eventually come, referring to possible / sure delays. What do you think?
“Buenos días higo chumbo, amigo de mi navaja, te corto pezón y culo, en medio te hago una raja, y te mando al otro mundo” = Good morning prickly pear, friend of my pocketknife. I cut your “nipple” and “bottom”, I make a cut in your centre and I send you to the other world. It sounds like quite a violent gastronomic and slightly pornographic experience indeed.
With friends like that…
I must admit I haven’t heard any of these Canarian proverbs on the street but they sure put a smile in my face.
More reading: How Canarian houses are constructed.