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Tips and Notes > True Stories  
Out of the Mouth of Cruisers (True Stories!)

Cartoon "Throw me your clothes!" by Chuck Butler

Send a funny story on your experiences speaking Spanish.

We may display it here.


SPANISH FOR CRUISERS suggests that you approach the Spanish language with these guidelines:

Your mission is to amuse the locals with your attempts to speak Spanish
2. Cheat wherever possible

Following are true stories from cruisers who have taken these guidelines to heart. They have boldly charged out there (as you must also) and try to communicate.

Yes, sometimes it will come out dead wrong, and the locals will laugh, but they will remember you! Shared laughter is a great way to make friends.

Hey, Toilet!

Cruiser to the author of
You know, I've been saying "Excusado" for "Excuse me" but I seem to get funny looks.
She meant: Excuse me
She really said: Toilet!
excusado is a euphemism for toilet;
use Perdón or Disculpe for Excuse me


She's hot!

She is hot!

A cruiser in the Dominican Republic sees a shirt in the store that she wants to buy. She tries to explain that she needs a bigger size because that one is too small across the bust.

When the clerk fails to understand, the cruiser grabs her bust and says “Too picante!!” ...

She meant pequeña (small) but she said picante (spicy!).

Everyone in the store roared with laughter.


Talking dirty to the Port Captain!

From Marcie Lynn
s/v Nine of Cups



"We were in the Port Captain's office in Salinas, Uruguay, having returned from Easter Island. I was questioning the charges for Lights & Buoys which I thought was a once a year charge since we had previously paid it.

"Uno por ano?", I asked.

He nodded agreement, but repeated, "Uno por año" with emphasis on the AN-YO.

I repeated myself again to make sure I understood, he again nodded agreement, but repeated with emphasis on AN-YO.

When I got back to the boat, I checked my Spanish dictionary as I was sure I saying something wrong.

Obviously, once per year versus once per asshole was a pretty big blunder. David commented, however, that we were lucky the Port Captain had a good sense of humor because with Jelly aboard, we would have paid for three assholes, not one."

año (pronounced ahn-yoh) is year. But ano (pronunced ah-noh) is anus or asshole!

Marcie is certainly not the only one to make this mistake. I think I remember reading musician Jimmy Buffet describe being in a bar on New Year's and enthusiastically wishing everyone in sight Feliz Ano (Happy Asshole). If it wasn't him, it was certainly someone!


When all else fails, point!


A cruiser writes down the name of the medicine she needs and takes it to a Venezuelan pharmacy.

The pharmacist brings out tablets to take orally and the cruiser is unable to explain to the pharmacist that yes, this is the right medicine but that she needs it in a different form.

She tries all sorts of words but nothing works. So she waits until all the other customers in the store leave, then she holds up the pills and points to her rear end.

The pharmacist laughs, then brings out suppositories.


How not to impress the customs official ...

Cruiser to the official
on the dock in Cuba:
Tire la ropa
She meant: Throw me the rope!
She really said: Throw me your clothes!
ropa = clothes; use cabo or soga for rope


You just can't get good service!

Juan Baró in Porlamar swears this is a true story ...

Juan helped a cruiser clear into Venezuela. The next day, the cruiser came back and said, “I’m ready to clear out. The people here are very rude and unfriendly and I want to leave now.” Juan asked the cruiser what happened.

cafeteria signThe cruiser said that he had walked into a restaurant in a small town the previous night and no one had seated him so he finally sat down. Although there were people eating at another table, no one brought him a menu or asked him what he wanted to eat or drink. Finally he yelled “Cerveza” and they brought him a beer. But still they never brought a menu. So finally the cruiser pointed at the food on the other table and yelled “Comida!” (food!). They brought him dinner and it was very good, but then when it came time to pay, no one ever gave him the bill.

So in disgust, the cruiser finally put some money on the table and left.

Juan was surprised that the boater had been treated so shabbily. He asked the cruiser for the name of the town where he had this unpleasant experience. When the cruiser told him, Juan replied “But there aren’t any restaurants in that town!”


Maybe she meant it...!

Author to the hairdresser
cutting her mate's hair:
Córtele el culo!
She meant: Cut off his ponytail!
She really said: Cut off his ass!
culo = ass, cola = ponytail; Freudian slip ...?

Tips and Notes > True Stories