Katie Jacoby outfits you with the vocabulary to handle Bogota’s most common weather
Bogota is a fairly rainy city at the best of times, but lately the rain has been absolutely relentless. That’s because we’re in what’s called invierno, a rainy season that’s particularly strong in November and December.
In fact, some people jokingly call November ‘lloviembre’, combining noviembre and lluvia. It’s said that Eskimos have one hundred terms for snow due to its importance and ubiquity in their culture, so it’s only logical that Bogotanos would have a plethora of vocabulary for talking about rain.
When dark clouds look menacing or you can just tell that it’s going to rain, you’ll want to say Tiene ganas de llover or Quiere llover.
There are many ways to say that it’s raining hard. The most common word locally for a downpour is aguacero. More colloquially, many people call this a palo de agua. You can also say: está lloviendo a cántaros (it’s raining buckets), llueve hasta maridos (it’s raining men), or, está cayendo un diluvio (it’s flooding).
Esta tarde cayó un aguacero ni el berraco, jamás había visto semejante palo de agua.
It rained so much this afternoon – I’d never seen such a torrential downpour before.
If you get caught in the rain without an umbrella, you’re going to get soaked to the bone. The standard and most common word for this is empapado, from the verb empapar (to soak). Of course, there are also a few local ways to say that you got drenched, one of which is emparamado. You can also say, Me pegué una lavada.
Maybe it starts to sprinkle and nothing else. The word for this in Spanish is una llovizna, and informally it’s also called un espantabobos. That is, just a little drizzle to make all the silly rain-paranoid people panic. Espantaflojos and espantabrujas also exist.
No te preocupes, es solo un espantabobos.
Don’t worry, it’s just barely sprinkling.
A key rain-related word to know is escampar. It refers to when it stops raining, when it lets up. It can additionally mean to take shelter somewhere while you wait for it to stop raining, like ducking into a cafe or standing under a doorway.
Nos vamos apenas escampe.
We’ll leave as soon as it stops raining.
Vamos a escampar en ese chucito para que no nos mojemos.
Let’s go wait out the rain in that little hole in the wall so we don’t get wet.
For umbrella, you’ll hear both sombrilla and paraguas here, though sombrilla is more common. Puddles are charcos, and they are legion.
If you read my column a few weeks back, you’ll recall that a moza or mozo is the person you’re having an affair with. Well, this word makes a reappearance with rainy weather in the phrase para moza (or, para mozo). This expresses that the lousy or rainy weather just makes you want to be curled up in bed with the person you’re seeing on the side. It’s a play on words from paramoso, which means rainy.
Uy, este clima está como para moza.
This weather just puts me in the mood to snuggle with my sweetie.
Arrunchar means to cuddle, and the sight of rain always makes locals express their desire to be in bed, either watching a movie or spooning with their partner. This is called a plan arrunchis.
So, you’ve got your umbrella, check, you’ve made your plan arrunchis, check, and now you’re fitted with the vocabulary for any and every rainy situation. A hard rain’s gonna fall, and you’re going to handle it as fluently as a local.
Katie Jacoby is a Spanish-English translator and has been in Colombia for 3 years. Feel free to leave her a comment or ideas for future columns on her language website, vocabat.com.