I was off work on Friday, but we had a little lunch party at the site where I’ve been working for the past few months to celebrate some birthdays. Seven interpreters (Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Kurdish) and two supervisors. I made a recipe for couscous with spinach, nectarines and pistachios that I first made when I lived in Medellín. The palette for flavors and ingredients in Colombia is rather narrow and only slowly opening up to more international influences, so I remember being treated like a gourmet chef down there for cooking with unconventional (for Colombia) things like couscous and pistachios. Also, Dijon mustard. And omelets. And feta cheese. It was fun to have my dishes considered manna from the gods just because I’d add something “exotic” like cumin–you can only eat so much rice and beans.
While eating a second helping of the couscous, my Colombian coworker said, Como decimos en Colombia, ¡te fajaste! A compliment that at the same time teaches me a new word? The best. I told him it was a new word for me, but I didn’t want to be a nerd and dissect his compliment right there while we were all enjoying ourselves. Qué aguafiestas. So, I accepted it gracefully, and once I was home I was able to look it up and really savor it.
Fajar means to wrap so as to hold something in, to swathe, to swaddle. A faja is usually a girdle or corset, and faja stores for women (and men!) are a very common sight in Colombia. A faja can also be a sash or belt. And in medicine, a brace. Faja can also be a skinny strip or band of something, and that’s where we get the word fajitas from– little strips of meat. OK, I knew all that. But what does fajarse mean in Colombia? Because I’m pretty sure my colleague wasn’t commending me for wearing a girdle like the scary ladies in the vintage ad below.
Nope–sure enough, it’s just as he said. In Colombia, fajarse = to do something successfully, to carry something off, to excel, to outdo yourself.
Julián se fajó anoche con semejante discurso.
Julián hit it out of the park last night with that speech of his.
Nathaly se fajó con esa tesis, cómo será, que hasta le ofrecieron beca para Harvard.
Nathaly aced her thesis, and get this: they even offered her a scholarship to Harvard.
Oye, te fajaste con este post, tanta razón. Felicitaciones.
Hey, you outdid yourself with this post. So many good points. Congrats.
Fajarse apparently has a few other meanings, many of them regional. Among other things, it can mean to fight, to work hard, to make out with someone and feel them up, to take the bull by the horns and face a difficult situation, and to tuck your shirt in. If you can keep all of these straight (I’ll do my best to try) and demonstrate your fajarse expertise in front of a Colombian, you’ll have no doubt more than earned their ¡te fajaste!
What’s your favorite colloquial or regional way to pay someone a compliment and give them a verbal high five? It’s an area in which I’d like to be a little more succinct, a little more snappy.