Even Spanish speakers have a hard time understanding “Cuban.” That’s because we have a talent for making up idioms that reflect our sense of humor. If you’re traveling to Cuba soon, pay attention to this list of words so you don’t feel lost:

1. When you’re having a conversation, or in a math class, and you understand nothing, we say you’re "en la Luna de Valencia.” It means you’re in Valencia’s Moon.

2. When you don’t like someone or can’t stand him or her, you say "no lo (la) ruedo". It literally means I can’t roll with him/her.   

3. Sometimes life goes by and friends don´t see each other for a while. When they finally meet up they say "hace un perro." The translation would be "it´s been a dog." Got it?

4. It´s super common to hear someone saying good bye with a "voy bajando" or "ciao pescao” (yes, we borrow from Italian).

5. We all have a friend who tends to say a lot lies and make up stories or exaggerate. We tell them: "deja la muela," to keep their mouth shut.

6. This one is actually one of my favorites. Sometimes we are just not in the mood for doing something, either going out, or going on a date, or even listening to someone’s story. That´s when the famous "no tengo el horno pa´ pastelitos" comes out. The literal translation would be "I don´t have oven for pastries." We just mean I’m not in the mood.

7. Those days when you feel good, and there’s nothing that could change your good vibes, people might tell you "andas a la mailov." You’re chilling out.

8. If you leave your homework for the last minute, it is not because you’re lazy. Simply you "eres un barco." Yes, you are a boat. Extreme cases of vagrancy can also be called “eres un transatlántico,” and when we know they’re doomed to fail, we say "eres un Titanic."

9. “To get a 10” does not refer to school grades. When a Cuban “coge un 10” it means he or she is taking a short break from work. It refers to a pause that, although it should cover a short period of time, it might extend and end up being a "twenty" or a "thirty"…

10. If a Cuban tells you "estás en llamas" you should not freak out and start looking for fire in your hair, but you better be mad cause your friend is telling you´re ugly.


Have you heard other Cuban phrases? Which is your favorite one?