Coastal Language 101

I promised I would do a blog post about some of the words and language commonly used in and around Pearl Lagoon. Here it is. The language here on the coast is a combination of English, Spanish and Miskito which is collectively referred to as Creole.

If they use the Spanish words for a thing then they always use the Spanish word and may not even know how to say the word in English.

Forgive the spelling. I’m doing it phonetically the way the words sound to me!

Quale or   quail Almost   dry; usually used in reference to laundry
Suppostamente   (Spanish) Supposedly
Tranquillo   (Spanish) Tranquil, calm, relaxed, easy
Tortiya   (Spanish) Jamaican-style fried dumpling but in a triangular shape
Bad feeling Upset stomach; feel to vomit
Catch a cold Used to explain just about all illnesses
Bunka/rump Butt, ass, behind, tush, etc.
Shittings Diarrhea
Poro   (Spanish) Penis
Para ya   (Spanish) A long time ago; or from time-to-time
Sickening Disgusting
Salva Vida   (Spanish) Life Jacket/vest
Novella   (Spanish) Spanish soap opera
Poonk Fart
That’s why I’m still not sure how this is used!
In my mind To myself
Beyho   (Spanish) Old man
Heaty Hot
Chinnella   (Spanish) Slippers or sandals
Fishining Fishing
Dorry Boat smaller than a panga and needs oars
Panga Boat that uses an engine
Clamp Stapler
Tio   (Spanish) Uncle
How? How are you?
Hard man A common greeting between men
Right here Used in response to How?
Plasticard Laminate


The Wages of War is Death

I have been living in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua for two months now. I have been paying attention to most things around me mostly because they are starkly different from the life I had lived in Toronto, Canada. The modern conveniences I had grown up taking for granted are now mostly gone and it is almost as if I have stepped backwards in time on some levels. One of the things that jumped out at me recently was the absence of men my age. Actually there is such a dearth of men between the ages of 40 and 50 that you can count them on two hands. My curiosity got the best of me and I started to ask questions. Here’s what I was told.

The civil war that happened in Nicaragua between 1979 and 1985 was a battle between Sandinista Nicaraguans and Contra Nicaraguans. The American government under President Regan supported the Contras and provided them with arms and other supplies in an attempt to oust then President Daniel Ortega. The Contras would go on to lose the war and the 100,000 Nicaraguan men who were young at that time paid the price with their lives. Many died defending their beliefs and their families. Today on the east coast of Nicaragua you can see the lasting effects of war in what you don’t see—middle-aged men.

And now there seems to be a new type of war brewing on the Atlantic coast. The coastal peoples are seperating from the rest of Nicaragua. They are now being represented by England and have their own King, flag, anthem and country called the Community Nation of Moskitia. The relationship between the Miskito people and the government in Managua has never been easy especially because of high unemployment rates and what amounts to “stealing” of their natural resources by the capital. What does this mean for Nicaragua? Will Daniel Ortega go to war to hold on to this very valuable region of his country or will this handover be seamless and bloodless? It is what the people of the coast want but does anyone really care what the people want?

My husband Jose was a boy during the Sandinista/Contra war. He saw atrocities and along with his family survived attacks in Pearl Lagoon. If this war happens, he’ll be prime fighting age. I keep telling him his life story will make an interesting movie. I just may have to write it.