Every culture has them, but Latinos especially, could carry an entire conversation just using dichos.
My husband’s Cuban-American family, who has graciously welcomed me into their clan, provide a great source of Cuban dichos. My Colombian roots and my hubby’s Cuban heritage tend to mesh really well, but sometimes I wish I had a camera to save those moments when he’s either totally confused by the Colombian flare or I’m in La La Land over the many flavors within our cultures. It’s surprising we communicate as well as we do.
The other day, I was with my sister-in-law when she said to one of her boys: “Estas cogiendo mango bajito, get off the computer now.”
I was totally baffled by her expression: Mango bajito? Really? Since when are fruit and computers even remotely related?
Now, Cubans, just as many other Latinos LOVE their fruit. Mangoes are an institution in Miami, almost as important as the sacred guayaba. Proof of this: the three mango trees in our backyard. They are cherished, envied and fought over during the season. In my family, we never cared about mangoes so much until now.
My mom has not fallen behind at all. She talks about her daughter’s mangoes to other family members and even to strangers at the supermarket because, after all, she doesn’t have to buy mangoes anymore. We receive requests from my friends in Texas and family in Virginia to the tone of “Guardame mangos.”
So, “Mango bajito?” I asked my sister-in-law.
“Yeah, you’ve never heard that?”she said, immediately recognizing that this would be a Cuban-teachable moment to the colombianita in the house.
I pursued the opportunity. “Explain,” I said.
“Well, it’s simple, like something that comes by opportunity or getting something for free.” (Or, “easy pickings.”)
Wow, neat I thought. Needless to say, my daughters will hear “mango bajito” from their Mami soon enough. It’s been added and checked into my Latino dichos dictionary.
Now if only I could define the true meaning of el Sereno…
Martha Gonzalez, the mother two Colombo-Cuban-American daughters, lives in el “corre corre” in Miami.
ed. note: Some say “mangos bajito” means something wholly different. Mira. Descarados.