Ya Pasamos Agosto!

We made it through August… Let the fiesta begin!

Chileans—especially the older ones—have a thing about August, a kind of a wary-scary dread accompanied by the increasing mantra-like use of the expression “si pasamos agosto…” (if we get through August), followed by a clearly audible self-congratulatory sigh of relief come September 1st: ¡Ya Pasamos Agosto! We did it! YAY! We got through August!

August is the tail end of Chilean winter, and let me tell you that three long months of cold, damp, gray, and dreary, can really take its toll. Especially on the abuelitos, the older folks who have spent most of the past three months wrapped in bufandas (scarves) huddled up to a guatero (hot water bottle), and shivering beside the estufa (free-standing heater), avoiding drafts, keeping their feet warm, and basically trying not to get sick.

August is a rather neurotic month, and its schizoid flip-flopping between hot and cold, sun and rain, and brownish smog vs. the more preferable invisible-type O2 really wreak havoc on delicate respiratory systems and kick off a rash of bronchial and sinus infections, along with bad colds, which lead to pneumonia, which leads to the hospital, which leads to…. well, let’s just say that many older people fear it’s the end of the line, the last stop on the train, where they’ll buy the farm and kick the bucket…or in the finest Chileno: estirar la patairse al patio de los calladosparar la chalaponer la piyama de maderadejar de existir
**See vocabulary lesson below…

(FYI and just for the record… I checked the statistics and found a report that showed that more adults actually die in May, June, and July.)

So clearly, pasar agosto is a big deal among the so-called “third agers” (the tercera edad, as it’s called here) and cause for celebration. A quick google check revealed a number of fiestas in senior centers and even an all-out bash at Los Buenos Muchachos (a very Chilean restaurant that’s big with groups and tourists) suggesting that families invite the senior generation to a big show tonight with 1980s singer Luis Dimas.

So, ¡Ya pue’ chiquillos!, ¡Ya pasamos Agosto!, which is also mighty convenient, because September just happens to be the national party month, time for Fiestas Patrias… a 2-day holiday that tends to turn into a month-long celebration of spring and independence…

Today’s vocabulary:

All of the following expressions are typical ways of saying that someone has died. Please feel free to correct or add more! And for even more Chilean slang and expressions, take a look at the Glossary of Chilenismos.

estirar la pata (stretch out the foot or leg)

irse al patio de los calla’os (go to the patio with the ‘quiet ones’)

parar la chala (chalas are sandals, but parar can mean to stop or to stand up, so I come up with 2 different interpretations with the same effect: that the sandals stop walking or that they are bottoms up, meaning that the person is lying on their back)

poner la piyama de madera (put on the wooden pajamas–with reference to the coffin)

dejar de existir (stop existing… this is a very standard, formal way of referring to death–a favorite of newscasters–that has always given me chills… do we really stop ‘existing’ when we die? doesn’t memory count? is this too existential a question for a blog?)


28 responses to “Ya Pasamos Agosto!

  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself! I was thinking the same thing today. I’m pretty excited for fiestas patrias coming up…nothing like a week of asados, anticucho, choripan, vino, chicha, cueca…the list is endless!

  2. woo! Survived cat month, even! Though I have to say, since I’m on bike and out and about most of today, it doesn’t feel that materially different than the part of August I saw. Loved your post, of course!

  3. Emily- yes! Fiestas Patrias! Matrias! National Meatfest! and let’s be honest… it’s more than a week… it’s like the whole month!

    Eileen- I’ve never really understood the whole cat month (mes de gatos) concept… is it when they go into heat? And yes, even though the calendar says September, it still feels pretty gray and August-like to me!

  4. It’s still feeling winter like down here in Santa Cruz as well…a bit more sunshine today but still pretty nippy. Looking forward to more springtime weather and bud break on all the vines and fruit trees…

    Here’s hoping the weather in Buenos Aires is better tomorrow 🙂

  5. Rumor has it (Who starts those things anyway?) that September will bring all that rain we’ve been missing all winter… so let’s hope budbreak holds off just a bit longer!

  6. I always thought the winters in Stgo were long and rough, despite temps not getting all that low–why is that?

    I think we need some kind of expression for surviving the worst of the summer heat here in TX–almost 70 days of over 100 degrees this summer. It’s insane–the temps in the 90’s this week have felt so refreshing!

    I’ll see if I can come up with any more sayings for death. I don’t think “pateó el balde” is one of them… (or “está empujando margaritas”).

  7. Annje- I think the reasons that winters feel so rough here is mostly due to the lack of indoor heating so you just feel like you never really get warmed up! That and the dreariness of gray skies!
    I’ve never heard your pateando el balde and empujando margaritas (kicking the bucket and pushing up daisies) in Chile… I’m not sure if these direct translations would fly here… Do you know if they use them in Mexico maybe?

  8. Yes, I think it is the lack of central heating (and all that cement construction with little insulation). And the smog is pretty dreary.

    No, those expressions wouldn’t fly… anywhere, I think. It’s just some bad translation in reverse.

  9. No- I think they’re GOOD translations… just not used in Spanish!
    I once said something to my husband like “prender un fósforo debajo su asiento” and he cracked up… he got the idea, but had never heard such a thing before!

  10. I had two people tell me this just today. Ya pasamos agosto! Like, Cool! We are still here!

  11. Yep, and the older you get, the more you hear it! I mentioned it to a friend and he said “you’re not old enough to be worrying about that stuff!”

  12. Thanks for the language lesson. Some interesting phrases I should probably practice, because otherwise, I’ll never remember them.

  13. And even if you don’t actually USE these expressions, you will certainly hear them! And you don’t want to put your foot in your mouth by mixing up “meter la pata” and “estirar la pata”!!

  14. “lo vino a buscar la pelá”
    “tiene principio de autopsia”

  15. ok- I confess-¡la primera me van a tener que explicar! y la segunda- ¡re-buena!

  16. la pelá = la muerte

  17. ¡O! no sabía… gracias!

  18. “ver crecer el pasto desde abajo”

  19. Se fue cortado… como los volantines

    y murióóó (ver el flaco y el indio)

  20. Irse a dormir con terno.

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  24. Margaret, con respecto a “la pelá” que mencionan más arriba, es quizás la expresión más popular para mencionar la muerte, por lo menos en la zona sur. O decir “se lo llevó la pelá” o “casi se lo llevó la pelá”, si alguien se escapó de morirse. ¿Recuerdas esa imagen antiquísima que hay de la muerte: una mujer calva, con una túnica negra y una guadaña con la que viene a segar las vidas? Esa mujer calva es “la pelá” (la pelada).

  25. Muy interesante Raul! Y, aunque este post y la mayoría de los comentarios ya tienen casi 3 años, aún no me es familiar la expresión “pelá” con respecto a la muerte. Interesante lo que dices respecto a “la Parca” (lo que nosotros decimos Grim Reaper) con su guadaña (otra palabra nueva y es scythe en inglés). ¿Puede ser que la expresión “pelada / pelá” viene del uso de la guadaña para cortar y por ende dejar un espacio pelado?

  26. Margaret. No, tengo entendido que “pelá”, deriva de que es una mujer sin cabello. Leí en internet que la expresión se usaba en Chile, Argentina y Ecuador.

  27. Complemento lo último. Tampoco he escuchado la expresión en Santiago, pero sí se emplea bastante (muchas veces en forma humorística) en la zona sur (me refiero desde Concepción aproximadamente, hacia el sur. Yo lo he escuchado en Temuco y también más al sur). Y en especial en clases media y baja; se usa bastante en zonas rurales. Y actualmente, de preferencia en personas de mediana o tercera edad. Los jóvenes la usan poco, excepto en zonas rurales en que sí la usan. Como debes saber, en las zonas rurales se conserva mejor el uso de expresiones tradicionales del lenguaje. Desconozco lo que ocurre en el norte del país.

  28. Muchas gracias Raúl. Y claro, sería pelá por ser calva… no lo caché porque siempre pienso en esa imagen con capucha y por ende no veo si tiene pelo, pero claro, lo tuyo tiene más sentido.
    Es cierto que las zonas rurales conservan sus tradiciones, pero aún sí, me imagino muchísimo menos que antes, porque hoy todos ven la tele nacional (es así en todo el mundo). Y la televisión es una manera de homogenear un pueblo. Gracias de nuevo!

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