The word I keep running into the past few days (or falling into, if you will) is cráter and cráteres. I had no idea that crater in Spanish is simply cráter. Not the most melodious of words, but there you have it. One of the times I saw the word it was referring to moon craters, but the other times were talking about Bogotá’s breathtaking potholes. Craters is just the word for these eyesores (not to mention footsores and tiresores).

Bienvenidos entonces a Bogotá, 2600 (y de pronto más) cráteres más cerca a la luna.

Welcome, then, to Bogotá: 2600 (and maybe more) craters closer to the moon. (You have to know about Bogotá for this to make any sense.)

Potholes don’t really do the streets of Bogotá justice. If we insist on a kitchen analogy, they’re more like cauldron holes or refrigerator holes. They’re bad.

Apparently potholes can also be called kettles and chuckholes? That’s news to me.

In the dictionary, it says bache for pothole, but the one time I ever said this word my coworker Andrés started teasing me. Ooh, bache! Check you out. So fancy, so proper. Everybody just says huecos for holes in the road in Colombia.

Los huecos evidencian la deplorable gerencia de la ciudad.

The potholes are proof of the city’s deplorable management.

Tantos huecos gigantescos que esta ciudad parece Mario Kart.

So many gigantic holes, this city looks like Mario Kart.

The holes are terrible and ubiquitous, but there is hope, kind of. I remember that there were ghastly potholes galore in my first two neighborhoods in Bogotá. You got so used to them that you barely even saw them. And then one day they were gone, silently filled and paved in the thick of the night. You know, anytime I feel resigned and hopeless about any situation in my life, I should remember those holes. They were so established and fixed and seemingly irremediable, and next thing you know, poof! They were gone without a trace. If those craters could disappear (though I’m sure that for every ten filled, twenty new ones open up), it feels like any crummy situation could miraculously be turned around. It’s kind of sad that what here would be considered so “duh” is a Christmas Day miracle there, but that’s Colombia for you. Like it or lump it! I guess I’ve done both.

Bogotá cráter


6 responses to “Potholes

  1. When I was in Mexico a couple of months ago, the streets were full of workmen and signs saying “Queretaro sin bache ” (estaba en Queretaro) I had never seen the word before only ever used ‘agujeros’ to describe holes and having previously spent most of my time in rural Bolivia, not seen many getting fixed.. thanks for the new vocab, Vocabat


    • No, thank you for finding it useful! Yes, I think most of the Spanish-speaking world does use bache. Don’t know why Colombia doesn’t. I tend to think of an agujero as more of a perforation kind of hole, and usually something smaller. There’s also hoyo :)


  2. Bache is definitely used by Mexicans and it’s been the only word for potholes I know until now, so thanks for this post.


    • Thank you! You are right– once I looked into it, it appeared that bache is the standard, universal word for pothole. I think it’s understood in Colombia, but it’s definitely not the normal way to refer to them. I see bacheado in the dictionary for full of pot holes, and bachear for both to fill potholes and the reflexive (bachearse) to mean to get filled with potholes. I’d say tapar un hueco for to fill a pothole. With all your travel, I’m sure you’ve seen some huge ones :)


      • bachear, bachearse…I’ve never heard of those. In the words of the famous Mr Spock: “Fascinating”. I’m totally ready to talk about potholes. Now I’m just waiting for the right moment, LOL.

        I’m also glad to see I’m not the only person thinking of Spanish this early in the morning. :)


  3. Hola. En Perú decimos “hueco(s)”. La palabra “bache” se usa con menos frecuencia.


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