First things first. Did you know that Bogotá got Google Street View this week? Well, they did, and now you can finally see what a walk through this capital city looks like. The time stamps at the bottom of the images show that the pictures of Bogotá were taken in 2011 and 2012, so, hey, you might even bump into me on those sidewalks.
Since the pictures were taken then and not now, you won’t see any evidence of the strikes, protests and police presence in the city of recent weeks. Speaking of, I’ve run into forms of the word alebrestarse several times while reading about the agricultural strikes and protests in Colombia. Quick as a jack rabbit, I (virtually) thumbed through the dictionary to discover that in Latin America alebrestarse means alborotarse, agitarse. Which is to say, to get worked up, to get riled up, to be incited, to be upset. Someone who’s alebrestado is anxious, angry, volatile, stubborn and apt to fly off the handle at any time. Just imagine a whole country of hardworking, peaceful campesinos feeling this way, and then try to imagine the decades of abuse and neglect it must have taken to bring them to this point. The strikes just ended and agreements were drafted, but it will take time to see if they have any teeth to them. Amanecerá y veremos.
It appears that alebrestarse is often used in the negative to tell worked up people to chill out. No te me alebrestes = no te me aceleres, no te pongas histérico, no te me emociones. Get a grip, get a hold of yourself, calm down. Stop bugging me about it. Just . . . chill.
No te me alebrestes, ya te dije que me des unos días más. Tranquilo.
Don’t get upset; I already told you to give me a few more days. Just calm down.
Etymologically, alebrestarse comes from a + liebre. A liebre is a hare. Ahhhh. So alebrestarse is something like to act like a hare, to bounce around like a hare, to buzz with pent-up energy like that of a hare. The white rabbit who was running late in Alice in Wonderland is surely an alebrestado if there ever was one. I know, I know; he was a rabbit. But let’s not split hares.
There was a place in my old neighborhood in Bogotá called La Liebre, and here’s proof via our flamante Google Street View. As their specialty was fuel injection, I can’t say it was my favorite neighborhood haunt or anything. You can’t really tell, but there’s an image of a speeding hare at the top of the sign.
I remember being pleased with myself for knowing what liebre meant, and I only knew it because I had learned the phrase meter gato por liebre. Do you know it? It’s a great one. Meter gato por liebre (or dar/pasar/vender gato por liebre) means to rip somebody off, to trick them, to dupe them. If you have an elephant’s memory, you may recall my post on tumbar from many moons ago. Same idea. Literally, meter gato por liebre is if someone were to sell you cat meat and convince you that it was hare.
Turning to medicine– which is where I live now– interestingly enough, a harelip (cleft lip) is expressed the same way in Spanish: labio leporino. Deriving from the Latin, leporino is the adjectival form of liebre. I don’t know if the animal association is as immediate, though.
Apparently some small buses in Chile are called liebres? I wonder if they really do whiz through the city or if the name is mostly ironic.
Rabbit is, of course, conejo, and I remember that in Colombia hacer conejo means to run out of a restaurant without paying your bill. No experience with that, but there is one foul memory I have of a restaurant in downtown Medellín where I kind of wish I had run out before paying (and sampling).
Madriguera is a word I use surprisingly often which means den, burrow, hideout, and, most usually, rabbit hole. Again, think of Alice.
Another wonderful rabbity word is gazapo. No, not gazpacho. Gazapo. A gazapo is a young rabbit, and it can also be a typo, misprint, blooper. Perdón por el gazapo wrote a Facebook friend of mine the other day after a typo in his previous comment. I don’t know how widespread this word is, though. I’ve used it with Peruvian and Ecuadorian friends, and I might as well have been speaking Chinese to them. I know it’s used in some other countries, just not sure which ones. The ones where they can own up to making blunders, I guess. Love to think that my mistakes are just wayward bunnies. If you ever spot a bunny in my blog, definitely let me know! I’ll guide him back to his madriguera immediately.
Had your fill of rabbits and hares yet? If not, I have an excellent short story to suggest. It’s called Carta a una señorita en París, and it’s from Julio Cortázar’s collection Bestiario. Centered around a man who vomits rabbits, the story is weird, disturbing, and mesmerizing. Súper recomendable.
Any rabbit/hare vocab I missed that you think is crucial? Let’s multiply our vocabulary like rabbits and hop to it.