"Piropos"

The word, in the Tico vernacular, means some equivalent of cat-calls or wolf-whistling. It’s pronounced “pee-roh-pohs“.

When we first arrived to Costa Rica and sat through our first lecture of the semester, the profesoras warned the girls (and guys too, because sometimes, it happens) about piropos. The profesoras said that girls who were visibly lighter-skinned and fair-haired were more likely to be cat-called. The slang term for someone lighter is macha for a girl, and macho for a male. The teachers told us that a lot of students think that (for men) being called macho is a compliment, but here, roughly translated, it means, “Hey, White-y.” It is also a rough equivalent to the many blonde jokes in the United States, where someone would say, “Jane, you’re so blond,” here they would say, “María, eres tan macha.” The day that we went all over the city, we were supposed to check off if we received any piropos. My group didn’t, and I think it was because the other girl and I had dark hair and eyes, and looked less American than did our group-mate Dustin, who’s 5’8″, blond-haired and blue-eyed. He definitely stood out. But, as he was with us, it probably looked as though the other girl and I were showing him his way around the city.

Also, we were advised–I take that back–forbidden from reacting in any way to the piropos. If we react, the men (usually it’s men) would take that as a challenge and pursue us. Physically, I mean. We were warned that it would turn ugly, which is why they tried to put us into groups with one male each. A male in the group ensures some sort of protection, even if he is outnumbered by the females. I will remember to write on the male presence tomorrow.

Good night everyone!

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2 thoughts on “"Piropos"

  1. Elise,I am thoroughly enjoying following your blog. It is so interesting to read about your experiences in another culture. I find myself reading and re-reading the blogs because they are so fascinating! I hope you are having as good a time as you make it sound! Enjoy your time and come home safely!!

  2. Ah, always a pleasure to read about your travels. So, would I be correct in saying that when you return, you will probably address as “macho”? Because you do enjoy introducing me as your white friend. Ah! You could introduce me as your “macho” friend, because it would play me up and also be a joke between us! Perfect.

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