Punta Cana Slang

by Conner Gorry, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 20th 2010 04:38 PM

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Punta Cana Slang

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Cuidado! Even if you're fluent in Spanish, you might feel like a "bobo" (dummy) trying to navigate the ins and outs of Punta Cana slang. Not only is local lingo in Punta Cana sprinkled with colorful phrases and "Spanglish" a-go-go, Dominicans, like Cubans, also habitually cut off the last few letters (or even an entire syllable!) of a word, making even common utterances hard to discern.

But not to worry! With a little practice – and this Punta Cana lingo for bobos cheat sheet – you'll be slinging slang with everyone from the resort bartender to your Scuba diving leader.


1. Ahorita


Technically, ahorita means "right now," but that couldn't be farther from the truth in laid back Punta Cana. Here, ahorita is lingo for sometime in the foreseeable future – could be an hour, a day or whenever someone gets around to it. In the worst of cases, it translates to never. Needless to say, when you hear "ahorita," try to pin down exactly when that might be.

2. Vaina


If awards were issued for most popular (or ubiquitous) slang words, vaina would win the gold medal. You're likely to hear this Punta Cana local lingo for "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig" every third word or so, since Dominicans have a flair for filling in sentences with "vainas."

3. Bonche


Your high school Spanish won't help much when you hear, "Vamos en coro al bonche." Your dictionary or electronic translator probably won't be much aid either, delivering something unintelligible like, "Let's go as a choir to the fight." In Punta Cana lingo, what's really being said is, "Let's all go to the party." When the bonche is at the "jevi cloo," what your friends are telling you is that the party is at the cool club – "cloo" being phonetic local slang for "club," and "jevi," derived from the English "heavy," meaning "cool."

4. Chelitos/Cuartos


You'll probably be parting with a lot of "chelitos" or "cuartos" during your stay in Punta Cana, since this is lingo for money. But it doesn't stop there. You might also hear "tululuses" used as slang for money. But no matter what you call it, if you don't budget responsibly, you might find yourself "en olla" (broke).

5. Echar una pavita


Ahhhh. This is what vacation is all about – swinging in a hammock overlooking the soft sands of Punta Cana. Slang here is creative, and while you might at first think this phrase has something to do with little cigarette butts (technically a "pava"), what you're really doing is taking a siesta.

6. Sufre de churria


Even if you're not a world traveler, you've probably heard it's not a good idea to drink the tap water in places far from home like Punta Cana. Good advice. But if you do get some dicey ice or poorly cooked chicken, you could "sufre de churria," or get a nasty bout of traveler's diarrhea.

7. Guachiman


A classic borrowed and bastardized from English, "guachiman" is Punta Cana slang for watchman. This is a good (and easy!) word to learn since you'll see guards – some armed, some not – throughout your travels in the Dominican Republic.

8. ¿Qué lo qué?


"What the what" does this slang phrase mean, you might be asking, and with reason. Technically translated, "¿qué lo qué?" means precisely that. But here in Punta Cana, slang doesn't have much rhyme or reason unless you speak the local language. Toss out a "¿qué lo qué? "next time you're in the neighborhood, and locals will know what you're really asking is "What's happening?"

9. Ajumao


With all the free drinks and swim-up bars for which Punta Cana resorts are known, you'll likely find yourself ajumao at least once on your vacation. "Drunk as a skunk" is "ajumao" in these parts, and if you can still pronounce Spanish at that point, you might try out the slang phrase, "Tengo un suape," or "I'm drunk." Depending on the severity of your condition, you might be "ventiocho," or "crazy," in which case, lie down and sleep it off.

10. Ténis & Teshir


Punta Cana lingo relies heavily on English words brought back from family members living in Miami and the Bronx, and these are classic examples. "Ténis" (pronounced "ten-y") are "tennis shoes" and "teshir" is a T-shirt.
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