Learning A Foreign Language


(You’ve been warned, so proceed at your own risk)

Soto - Driver

Soto – Driver


The Group WEB

The Group (L to R):  Caroline, Mark, Kate, Mad & Rob

(One Scot, one Brit, three Aussie’s and Joel & I … the Americano’s)

One of the best aspects of learning a new language is learning the bad stuff—the profanity. And when traveling with a young group (early 20’s to early 30’s), especially from Australia, England and Scotland, the practicing of profanity is almost obligatory.  Cuba is a great place to learn some new stuff, and we did—so I thought I would share (just in case you ever go to Cuba yourself).

Tony, our tour guide, taught us this on our first day together.  Right after his stellar Al Pacino imitation of Scarface:  “I am Tony Montana; say hello to my little friend.”  Soto, our good-natured driver, and Tony, have been friends for a long time.  Tony told us that Soto liked to be greeted with the salutation:  “Coño Soto” or “Dammit Soto.”  After that, he taught us to add this to the salutation:  “Qué pinga te pasa a ti?” or “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Coño Soto! Qué pinga te pasa a ti?

(Dammit Soto!  What the fuck is wrong with you?)

Every single time we climbed back into the minivan we greeted Soto in this fashion.  It never failed to elicit a big smile, hearty laughter and tears of joy.  And no one could do it better than the 28-year old Aussie Kate (she even included gang-like hand gestures).  She had the Cuban accent down to a tee.  Since returning to Merida, we’ve learned that this phrase is more of a Cuban thing than a Mexican thing—but the meaning is still clearly understood.  The first thing we did upon our return, was to greet our good friend Jose (ethnic Cuban) with:  “Coño Jose!  Qué pinga te pasa a ti?”  He got a good laugh from our new language skills, and complimented us on our understanding of basic male Cuban culture.

So if you love to travel to foreign lands, be sure to take the time to learn the bad stuff.  You will impress the locals with your language skills and cultural understanding, and you will be the hit of any party (especially if you’re with a group of young Aussie’s).


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