Getting lucky in Colombia

Did you experience the Beanie Baby craze of the ’90s? I remember the first one I got was Lucky, the ladybug. I counted her spots and then consulted a book to see if she was valuable (ixnay), and was later crushed when a pet chewed one of her legs, rendering her a worthless invalid. Much better luck has come over the years, though, especially when I lived in Colombia. I swear, I was so incredibly lucky while in Colombia. But maybe it was just people’s generosity. Maybe I took more risks and needed (and noticed) the luck more. Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time. Maybe I got luck I shouldn’t have. Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit and really earned that bounty of blessings. No matter–it’s over now. Here’s how to talk about luck in Colombia, but first a joke I just heard on the radio.

Yo conocí a una ovejita que era alérgica a la lana. Muy de malas. 

I once met a sheep that was allergic to wool. Talk about bad luck!

In Colombia, de buenas means lucky and de malas means unlucky. I remember learning this while waiting forever for a taxi one time with my friend Dayana in Bogotá. As taxi after taxi passed by and it seemed like we’d never get where we were going, she commented that we were muy de malas. Of course, I nodded vigorously and concurred, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was concurring with. For some reason, I was never able to find the answer on the internet, but repeated usage afterward made its meaning clear.

¡No auditaron mi departamento! Estoy felizzzzz. Qué de buenas. Te dije que ibas a estar bien. 

They didn’t audit my department! I’m so happppy. Lucky duck. I told you you’d be fine.

Uno no escoge la familia, ¡pero yo sí fui muy de buenas por la que me tocó!

One doesn’t choose their family, but I definitely lucked out with the one I got!

¿Más de malas que sentarse en un hijueputa chicle? No lo creo.

More unlucky than sitting on a freaking piece of gum? I don’t think so.

No es que seas de malas para el amor, es que no has encontrado a la persona correcta para darle ese privilegio.

It’s not that you have bad luck in love; it’s that you haven’t found the right person to give that privilege to.

De buenas en el juego, de malas en el amor.

Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.

Four leaf clover

The phrase ¡De malas! is used to mean, Too bad! It makes me think of the Colombian word paila.

¿Así que perdiste tu vuelo y ahora quieres desquitarte conmigo? ¡De malas! Yo no tengo la culpa de que hayas decidido alistar tus maletas a última hora.

So you missed your flight and you want to take it out on me? Well, too bad! It’s not my fault you decided to pack at the last minute.

¡Soy como soy! Si no te gusta, de malas.

I am who I am! If you don’t like it, tough.

The phrase de malas como la piraña mueca means unlucky/screwed like a piranha without any teeth. Just imagine that poor toothless piranha having to slurp on some algae purée while his friends are all digging into a juicy steak. Meanwhile, there’s probably some piranha out there who was born with an extra set of fangs. ¡Tan de buenas!

Of course, there’s getting lucky and then there’s getting lucky, most recently hailed in that catchy song you’ve surely been hearing on the radio as nonstop as I have, Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky.’ Maybe another post.

Take luck! If that means nothing to you, go look it up and change your luck now.


2 responses to “Getting lucky in Colombia

  1. Pura chepa!


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