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Yucatàn show your teeth!

There was the TGIF get together (gringo social) at Fiesta Americana last night, and there was a benefit concert for APIS (the abused women’s shelter), we didn’t go to either of them but we did go on Saturday to The Third Fair of Flower-Growing and Green Housing of State of Yucatan which is what the email I received from the IWC called it. I am assuming that it is a literal translation from a more elegant Spanish title. English and Spanish suffer when they are translated literally. When we go to a restaurant and they have a choice between a menu in Spanish and one in English, I always opt for the Spanish one, it’s easier than trying to figure out what they are trying to say. (Just for the record,many years ago I complained to the manager of our local Bank of America “the wording of that sign into is so poor that it’s insulting, you either don’t care enough to do it correctly or you think your Spanish speaking customers are illiterate.” I believe that they removed the sign.).
When Husband was first learning Spanish he would say these odd things, and I would find myself asking him (in what I like to think was the kindest fashion, because I didn’t want to stifle his budding linguistic abilities) “Dear, what is it that you think you are saying?” It’s the same with many menus. Some of the translations are very unappealing especially fungus sauce (mushroom sauce) and black filling (relleno negro or black stuffing sounds weird enough but black filling sounds like fiberfill that has molded). Speaking of Husband, the handsome fellow holding the Heliconia leaf is Husband. Just for scale Husband is an unYucatecan 6’1″ tall.
This leads us to the current State Campaign that entreats the people of the Yucatàn to show their teeth. ¡Yucatàn muestra sus dientes! It just cracks me up, I don’t know if I have a juvenile sense of humor or an extremely dry one. What the signs mean is SMILE , but the first time I noticed the sign we were driving down Paseo (we spend a lot of time on Paseo it seems) and I had just taken a swig of Coco Snap, I ended up with Coco Snap up my nose, not as bad as Coca but still not fun.
Setting bad translations aside, we went to the fair. Our neighbor across the street had been last year told us that it had been worth going to. We invited him along, and it was a good thing, because there was no signage on the road or on the event to mark the site! I guess I spent too much of my adult life in retail, because I just don’t get it. The notice regarding the event was received by the IWC Garden Group leader 2 days prior to the opening day and there was no way a passerby who wasn’t planning on already going to Hacienda Teya would have known that there was a fair in progress. It makes me wonder how they garnered enough trade to have this be the 3rd annual.
In spite of my griping about signage, it was a pleasant little event, there were several viveros represented. The Hacienda Teya nursery has a lovely garden, and I remembered to take photos! Well, I took photos of the garden not of the fair. There is an orchid green house, where I bought some native orchids (I have forgotten how much I paid), I also got 2 small poinsettias (nochebuenas) for $25 each that they said were native grown so I can plant them in my garden, where I am hoping that they will take root and become 6 foot shrubs.
I bought a Persian shield ($35) (which the helper falsely identified as a coleus), a pentas ($35) and a pale pink New Guinea Impatiens ($40), the total was $110 and just for grins I asked if they would take $100. The helper turned to a young girl and asked her, who in turn asked her mom, who said “yes”. That was nice, all my purchases got loaded into a wheel barrow by a young lad and ferried to our car, he got the $10 that I saved, so we were all happy.

We might have stayed longer if there had been a place to buy water to drink,or somewhere to sit and rest but we managed to last about 2 hours. The photos are from the exhibition gardens, there were even some camellias hidden among the foliage mostly serving as displays for various orchids and bromeliads.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Jonna,
    I stopped collecting bad English awhile ago too. I think it’s more an issue doing it the cheap way (page by page with a dictionary) vs actually paying a real translator. And then, how many certified translators are out there? I have been offered and turned down jobs translating, because I am not a certified translator, it’s too big a responsibility!

  2. ¡Yucatàn muestra sus dientes!

    I saw that billboard too – and I also love CocoSnap sold at a corner near there – and I pondered it for a week. I finally asked the waitress at our favorite breakfast spot over here in QRoo if there was a difference between sonrisa and that. She said that ‘show your teeth’ was not a real smile, but a fake one. Very confusing. I told her about the billboard and she thought it was very funny. I still don’t really ‘get’ the point of that campaign.

    I used to try and remember all the funny translations I’ve seen, mainly on menus, but I finally decided that I really didn’t want anyone keeping track of funny things I’ve said in spanish.

    Still, I did correct a flyer my lawyer gave me as the english was dictionary correct but really unnatural. I tried to be very complimentary when I asked if he would like some changes that made it sound more ‘natural’. He said yes and thanked me, hopefully he wasn’t offended.

  3. Gracias Canucka,
    I think me esposo es muy guapo and that garden was very inspirational! Infact, I spent all morning working in my garden.

  4. Your post made me laugh, the bad translations are hysterical sometimes. “Show us your teeth” cracks me up, but I like the intention! Beautiful pics of plants and your “giant” husband. 🙂

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