Monthly Archives: May 2021

Question about “para”

So an infinitive, such as leer, means to ____, in this case to read. So the sentence “Quiero leer el libro” should mean “I want to read the book.” Some sentences I’ve come across sometimes have “para” in them, such as “Quiero algo para leer en el tren.” What is the point of “para” in that sentence? Wouldn’t it still make sense without it?

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Venezuela’s Natural Beauty: Región Sur

“Vastness” is one of the two best nouns anyone should use to describe Venezuela’s Región Sur (Southern Region), which encompasses Bolívar and Amazonas—its two largest states, surpassing 176,000 square miles, practically half of the country’s territory as a whole.

Tepuyes. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The other word perfectly suited for the South (also known as Región Guayana) is “abundance”, as those two states are home to the most varied flora and fauna found in Venezuela, as well as the most forestry, mining, and even hydroelectric resources available in the territory, thanks to its countless bodies of water, of which the Orinoco and Caroní rivers are essential.

Given how far the Región Sur is located from the country’s most densely populated areas, it offers a relatively pristine landscape that is home to the largest Indigenous populations found in Venezuela; e.g., the Yanonami, Piaroa, Warao, Ye’kuana, Pemon, and Kariña peoples, just to name a few.

Indigenous populations in Amazonas. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The geographical treasure from this region is the “Macizo Guayanés” (Guiana Shield), on account of its characteristic “tepuy” (a unique kind of table-top mountain found anywhere else on the planet), the renowned Angel Falls—the world’s tallest waterfall—, and “la Gran Sabana” (Great Savannah). The oldest rock formations on Earth’s surface, dozens of tepuyes rise majestically surrounded by hectares upon hectares of a combination of jungle and plains zones, resembling the natural wonder of the neighboring Amazon basin.

That is why four of Venezuela’s largest national parks are located in Guayana: Caura (29,090 sq mi), Parima-Tapirapeco (14,780 sq mi); Canaima (12,000 sq mi), also a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site; and Serranía La Neblina (5,300 sq mi). There are three others to be mentioned: Jaua-Sarisariñama, whose access is restricted to outsiders and scientific researchers; Cerro Yapacana and Duida-Marahuaca.

So, what could Guayana offer to the avid traveler? In brief, miles and miles of untamed, fascinating territory, one that is ready to be admired alongside local guides and the native tribes.

The post Venezuela’s Natural Beauty: Región Sur first appeared on Spanish Language Blog.

¿Cuál es el mejor taco de México?

El taco es el platillo más famoso de México. Hay muchos tipos diferentes de tacos, por ejemplo carnitas, barbacoa, birria, pescado, bistec, camarones y muchos más. Hoy vamos a responder a la pregunta¿Cuál es el mejor taco de México? (The taco is the most famous dish from Mexico. There are many different types of tacos, for example carnitas, barbacoa, birria, fish, steak, shrimp and many more. Today we’re going to answer the question – what is the best taco in Mexico?). But first, let’s get something clear…

Image by jmbaugh from Pixabay

¡Esto no es un taco!

If you grew up in the Midwest as I did, you probably grew up thinking this was a taco: a hard shell, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and maybe some sour cream. Well, amigo, ¡Esto no es un taco! (This is not a taco!). In Mexico, when you eat something with a hard shell it’s called a tostada. It’s also round and not in the folded shape that a gringo taco comes in. If you put cheese on a taco, it’s called a quesadilla. Or if there’s cheese on a tostada, it’s called a volcane. You know, because the gooey melty cheese looks like a volcano!

When gringos make a “soft taco,” they usually use tortillas de harina (flour tortillas). You can find those in Mexico, but a vast majority of tacos use tortillas de maiz (corn tortillas). Most places even double down to add an extra layer for soaking up all the delicious juices and salsa. Plus, they’re more filling that way. More bang for your peso!

As for the fillings, you pretty much never find carne molida (ground beef) in a taco in Mexico. Instead of lechuga y tomate (lettuce and tomato), Mexicans put cebolla y cilantro (onion and coriander) on their tacos. If you want both on your taco, you need to say “Con todo” (With everything). And sour cream? Good luck even finding that in Mexico. Sure, there is crema, but it’s not quite the same and is never on the counter at a taco truck.

Ok now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to business and try to answer this important question.

So many taco trucks, so little time.
Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

El mejor taco de México

¿Cuál es el mejor taco de México? La respuesta depende de la persona. A algunas personas les gusta la carne, a otras les gustan los mariscos y algunas son vegetarianas (What is the best taco in Mexico? The answer depends on the person. Some people like meat, other people like seafood, and some are vegetarians).

In addition, different regions of Mexico specialize in different types of tacos. Por ejemplo, en la costa, los tacos de pescado son muy populares (For example, on the coast, fish tacos are very popular). I eat fish tacos all the time where I live in Puerto Vallarta but usually stick to meat when I head inland to Guadalajara.

While it all depends on your personal taste and the area where you live, I would say there’s no doubt about what the most famous taco in Mexico is…

El Rey de los Tacos!
Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

Tacos al pastor

You might say that tacos al pastor is el Rey de los Tacos (The King of Tacos). This is the taco that was introduced in the first episode of the popular Netflix series “Las Crónicas del Taco” (Taco Chronicles). It’s narrated in the first person as if the taco is talking, and al pastor very confidently claims “Yo soy tu taco de siempre” (I am your forever taco).

The show is amazing and I highly recommend watching it. I wrote a post about this and another Netflix show that are both great for practicing your listening and reading. Click here to check it out if you missed it.

The name literally translates to “shepherd style” because it comes from the shawarma that Lebanese immigrants brought to Mexico. Originally, the meat used was la carne de cordero (mutton), hence the “shepherd” name. This famous taco is made with la carne de cerdo (pork), which is cooked on a rotating trompo (spit).

La carne es preparada con un marinado tradicional mexicano llamado adobo (The meat is prepared with a traditional Mexican marinade called adobo). It’s a mixture of dried chilies, spices, and achiote paste. Each restaurant and taco truck adds its own unique flair to the marinade, so it’s always a different experience eating tacos al pastor.

Learn about tacos al pastor and practice your Spanish listening skills.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of tacos al pastor, though, is the use of la piña (the pineapple). A pineapple is placed atop the trompo, and it’s often sliced to let the juice drizzle down onto the meat and soak in while it cooks. It’s an honor to be el taquero who gets to man the trompo and it requires a special skill. You need to learn how to cut a little slice of pineapple and catch it inside the taco. It really is an art form!

Los tacos al pastor son los mejores! Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

As with most types of taco, al pastor is topped with diced onion and coriander. You can choose from a variety of salsas and other garnishes as well. Most taco trucks and restaurants have rábano y zanahoria (radish and carrot) and possibly some pickled jalapeños. Some of the salsas are nice and mild, while others will light your mouth on fire. You might want to ask them “¿Qué salsa es la más picante?” (Which salsa is the spiciest?).

It’s hard to say that they are the “best” tacos in Mexico, but tacos al pastor are most definitely my favorite. How about you? ¿Cuál es tu taco favorito? (What’s your favorite taco?). Leave a comment and let us know!

The post ¿Cuál es el mejor taco de México? first appeared on Spanish Language Blog.

Colloquial Spanish Course – Talking about Colours in Spanish

In this Spanish lesson we are going to practice talking about Colours in Spanish. First we will learn some relevant vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short audio conversation in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Talking about Colours in Spanish

Image by garageband from Pixabay

Talking about Colours in Spanish:

Rojo: red
Naranja: orange
Amarillo: yellow
Verde: green
Azul: blue
Morado: purple
Lila: lilac
Violeta: violet
Rosa: pink
Negro: black
Blanco: white
Gris: grey
Marrón: brown
Beis: beige
Claro: light
Azul claro: light blue
Oscuro: dark
Verde oscuro: dark green
Colores vivos: bright colours
Colores apagados: pale colours
Colores pastel: pastel colours
Dorado: golden
Plateado: silver
Rojizo: reddish
Anaranjado: orangish
Amarillento: yellowish
Verdoso: greenish
Azulado: bluish
Rosáceo: pinkish
Amarronado: brownish
Grisáceo: greyish
Rojo anaranjado: orangish red
Verde azulado: bluish green
Naranja amarillento: yellowy orange
Gris azulado: bluish grey
Marrón verdoso: greenish Brown
Rojo vivo/chillón: bright red
Magenta: magenta
Granate: deep red
Malva: mauve
Fucsia: fuchsia
Terracota: terracotta
Azul marino: navy blue
Azul añil: indigo blue
Azul eléctrico: electric blue
Azul celeste: pale blue
Turquesa: turquoise
Amarillo limón: lemon yellow
Amarillo canario: canary yellow
Verde oliva: olive green
Verdemar: sea green
Caqui: khaki
Bronce: bronze
De color café: coffee coloured
De color chocolate: chocolate coloured
De color crema: cream coloured

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

James: ¿Has visto el pelo de Diego?
Verónica: Sí, no me lo puedo creer. ¡Se lo ha teñido de verde!
James: Diego es tan extravagante.
Verónica: Me encanta su ropa. Es tan colorida. Hoy llevaba una chaqueta morada y unos pantalones amarillos.
James: Ojalá pudiera ser tan extravagante como Diego. O incluso un poco extravagante.
Veronica: Siempre llevas ropa negra James.
James: O gris.
Verónica: O marrón.
James: No creo que la ropa colorida me quede bien.
Verónica: Eso es una tontería. Si llevas algo con seguridad, te quedará bien.
James: ¿Puedes imaginarme a mí con el pelo verde o pantalones amarillos?
Verónica: Mmmmhh no.
James: Sin embargo, mi casa es muy colorida. Me encanta decorar mi casa con colores llamativos.
Verónica: Ya me he dado cuenta. Tu alfombra azul eléctrico. Tu sofá rojo brillante. Las paredes rosas…
James: Las paredes no son rosas.
Verónica: Son rosáceas.
James: Más moradas que rosas. ¡Me encantan mis cortinas doradas!
Verónica: ¡Y las puertas naranjas! ¡¡No olvides las puertas naranjas!!
James: Son rojas. Bueno, de color rojo anaranjado.
Verónica: ¡Definitivamente eres muy extravagante en tu casa James! De eso puedes estar seguro.
James: ¿Pues sabes una cosa? Una vez fui a la casa de Diego y todo era de color café o crema.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

The post Colloquial Spanish Course – Talking about Colours in Spanish first appeared on Spanish Language Blog.