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Last year I wrote a post about how I started taking Spanish classes in Panama.  I went three times a week for about a month and then had to stop because my college classes were resuming.  I finished all of my college classes in July and then started working full time and then a few more excuses and I just never got around to signing back up.

[adrotate banner=”18″]I speak a very comfortable level of Spanish and I think that is why I have been lacking the motivation to get better at it.  I know enough to almost never get charged “gringo prices” when I take a taxi, I can solve everyday problems in Spanish, order food without any surprises, etc.  But when it comes to having a real conversation with someone – I suck.

So a month into the new year, it’s time to sign up for Spanish classes again.  This time I am trying a different place out called Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  It’s currently the only Spanish school located in Casco Viejo and I think it’s going to be a really inspiring place to improve my Spanish (I need some inspiration right now).

A peek inside Casco Antiguo Spanish School
A peek inside Casco Antiguo Spanish School

I went in today to take an assessment and I was really surprised about the place (good surprised).  It’s located at the very end of Calle 4 and Ave A and when I arrived there were all these young people painting the outside of the building and then when I walked in there were more people painting inside. It was much bigger and open inside than I would have thought and I was not expecting there to be so much activity going on.  I followed the signs directing me to where the Spanish school was and apparently took a wrong turn and ended up in a gym where people were doing cross fit.  I was really confused about what kind of place I was in.

Volunteers painting inside the community center

Luckily someone noticed I was lost and directed me up the stairs to where the Spanish school is located.  The owner of the school, David Gold, was at the front desk to greet me.  He explained that they are located in a community center where they have several volunteer projects going on around the place and there is also a gym called Alley Cat Fitness, which is what I walked into at first.  I thought that the mix of everything was very cool – a very good setting to learn Spanish in.

Open air plant project going on in the middle of the community center
Open air plant project going on in the middle of the community center

So I took my Spanish assessment test to see what level of Spanish I was at and I did alright on the first page, but there were a lot of red marks on the second page.  Hopefully a lot of the grammar that I have forgotten comes back quickly.

As I was leaving David gave me a brochure of Panamanian Slang that I am going to try and work into my daily vocabulary.  I think after learning these words I will start to sound like a local:

  • All¡ onde uno- Hometown
  • Arranque- To go to a party and get drunk
  • Arroz a caballo- Rice with a fried egg on top
  • Awebao- Idiot or endearingly, dude
  • Awebason- Foolish or dumb
  • Bagre- A really ugly woman
  • Bajapanti- Popular and cheap liquor called the “panty remover”
  • Borriguero- A low ranking employee
  • Chacaron- Lazy person
  • Chaneado- Dressed up
  • Chambon- A clumsy person
  • Chantin- house
  • Chata- Someone with no butt
  • Chichi- Baby
  • Chifiar- Ignoring a person
  • Chirrisco- A homemade alcoholic beverage made with battery acid to accelerate the fermentation
  • Chiva- A small bus
  • Chota- A derogatory term for a large police car
  • Chucha- Expression of shock and alarm, also refers to part of the female anatomy
  • Chupata- A party with lots of alcohol
  • Chuzo- A non vulgar way of saying chucha. Such as saying fudge instead of F#$!
  • Cuara- quarter, 25 cents
  • Culicagao- A young man
  • Culillo- To have fear
  • Culo- A butt
  • Dale valor- Turn up the volume!
  • De alante- Awesome or cool
  • Diablo rojo- A large city bus
  • Doble cara- Hypocrite or two faced
  • El chino- A corner store
  • Firi firi- A very skinny woman or man
  • Fren- Friend
  • Fula/o- Blonde
  • Gallo- Awful
  • Grajo- Stinky
  • Huevear- F%$# off
  • Llesca- Street
  • Maleante- A gang member
  • Matapuerco- A poorly thrown punch
  • Micho- A cat
  • Mopri- buddy
  • Morrina- Rotten food
  • Pai- A beautiful girl
  • Pollo- A handsome man
  • Palo- A buck as in dollar
  • Parkear- To hang out
  • Pelaa- Woman or chick
  • Pelao- Dude
  • Pebre- Food
  • Piedrero- Homeless or crackhead
  • Policia Muerto- Speed bumps
  • Por fuera- I’m out
  • Pritty- Good/cool/nice
  • Que xopa- What’s up
  • Solido- Cool or awesome
  • Ta cruel- Really bad
  • Tongo- Police man or cop
  • Tranque- Traffic jam
  • Yeyé- Rich preppy Panamanian
Not a bad view :)
Not a bad view 🙂

I’ll be attending classes at Casco Antiguo Spanish School every Saturday for 2 hours.  I am really excited to improve my Spanish and I am also looking forward to being able to take a trip to Casco Viejo every Saturday.  I definitely go there a lot at night but I rarely get to go hangout there during the day.  There’s a lot of new cafes and shops that have opened recently so I’ll try to check out a new place every weekend I am there.

Artwork on the way to the classroom
Artwork on the way to the classroom

I’ll post a few more updates as I progress and once I feel confident enough I’ll write one in Spanish!

*For more information about the Casco Antiguo Spanish School you can visit their website or Facebook Page.

Experience Panama


I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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