Dicho: Merequetén and Rock-Breaking Heat
I don’t know about you, but sometimes unexpected Spanish stuff – sometimes things I had not thought of in years — fly into my coco. Words, sayings, dichos. Things that I would hear my grandma or tios say decades ago. Things I don’t have a regular chance to say in my mostly English-speaking day.
A couple of days ago, as the temperature read 105 degrees in Nashville, this one jumped into my head:
“Hace un calor que raja piedras.”
Lose translation: It is hot enough to split rocks.
And then I thought of “Le zumba el merequetén,” which is just the right Cuban dicho when we’re frustrated, or hot. We say “Le zumba el merequetén” in a combination big sigh and complain-y voice. We say it often. Cubans make complaining an art form, after all.
Le zumba el merequetén makes absolutely no sense. Merequetén isn’t even a real word.
I googled it and found this explanation over at Lo Que Pica el Gallo.
They don’t really know what the heck it means either. Something about lobbing mangoes, maybe?
Zumba really means “heave” and it has been “heave” since way before the trendy dance workout was trademarked. So, when we’re hot and frustrated, we say we could heave something…some merequetén, a funny sounding word that tends to get the point across just as well as ”Hace un calor que raja piedras.”
I did find a translation that says it means: “It blows our minds.”
So, indeed, this heat is blowing my mind.
As is all the weird, interesting, illogical Cuban stuff that jumps into my brain.
And you? Does this happen to you? A sudden remembrance of cultural stuff you totally didn’t even remember you remembered?
Or is the heat just getting to me?