Mexican Sayings ...
Life, Fortune, Love and Death

“La Rueda de la Fortuna”

Up and down we go in life, as on a Ferris wheel, all the while discovering new perspectives, colors, wisdom and… Mexican sayings that hit the nail right on the head.

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De valientes y glotones están llenos los panteones
Cementeries are full of the courageous and of gluttons
Looks to me like this is meant to advise restraint in two popular fields of activity: eating and picking fights.

Al vivo todo le falta, y al muerto todo le sobra
For one who´s alive nothing´s quite enough, while for one who´s dead anything´s too much
The Mexican refranero gets a bit philosophical once in a while, and in this case it reminds us that the material wellbeing we so tenaciously pursue down here is redundant in the thereafter.

Más remedio tiene un muerto
Even a dead man has more to hope for
This Mexican saying is an unmistakably Mexican way of saying that something or somebody is quite beyond hope.

Para dejar el pellejo, lo mismo es hoy que mañana
Pellejo: hide, skin
To abandon one´s skin, today is as good a day as any
This is to encourage oneself or someone else to act bravely: Do what has to be done without fear; the worst case scenario –death- is in any case unavoidable.

Si tu mal tiene remedio, ¿de qué te apuras?; y si no, ¿de qué te preocupas?
If there´s a cure for your problem, why anguish? And if there´s none, why worry?
I´ve said already that the Mexicans are a good natured folk! They know how to stay in good spirits in spite of all troubles which may come their way.

Cada cual hace con su vida un papalote y lo echa a volar
We each make a kite of life and fly it as we will
Each person lives his life as he likes. This Mexican saying is meant to be said following a sigh and with hands held up high in a gesture of helplessness when somebody fails to listen to our advice. Also, when someone speaks ill of his fellow, it serves to indicate that he should mind his own business.

El muerto y el arrimado, a los tres días apestan
An arrimado is a person who comes uninvited to live under your roof. It might well be that you gave your consent, but even if so, that generally won´t prevent your arrimados from becoming a nuisance sooner or later. According to this Mexican saying, it takes only three days for that to happen.
Houseguests and fish stink after three days. We see here that the English equivalent substitutes the corpse for stale fish, with similar results.

Si quieres dinero y fama, que no te agarre el sol en la cama
If you want riches and fame, don´t let the sun surprise you still in bed
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

Si la juventud supiera y la vejez pudiera…
If only youth were to know how and the aged were still to be able…
Which reminds us of one of Gabriel García Márquez’ famous quotes: La sabiduría nos llega cuando ya no nos sirve de nada.

El que impuesto está a perder, hasta lástima es que gane
When someone has made up his mind to lose, it would even be a pity should he win

¿Te haces muchas ilusiones?; tendrás muchos desengaños.
You´re building up many a hope? You´re in for many a disappointment

El que mucho mal padece, con poco bien se consuela
For someone suffering great ills, a little fortune is enough to comfort him
Suffering and need make for humility and gratefulness.

El mal de amores duele, pero no mata
Love sickness hurts but does not kill
Does anyone in our day and age still suffer from love-sickness, anyway? Or is it one more of the illnesses that modern “progress” erased from the face of the civilized world?

Las apariencias engañan
Appearances are deceiving

No hay peor lucha que la que no se hace
Lucha means fight, struggle, but has also the extended meaning of the effort one makes in pursuit of a goal
There´s no worse effort than that which is omitted

De que tocan a llover, no hay más que abrir el paraguas
If it starts raining, one has nothing left but to open up one´s umbrella
Indeed, one has to take life as it comes!

No le estés dando vuelta al malacate porque se te enredan las pitas
The Mexican word malacate comes from the nahuatl malacatl meaning “spindle”
Pitas are the fibers obtained from the leaves of the maguey and which are used to produce a variety of hand-crafted products including rope (mecate), net, carpets, chairs, etc.
Don´t fiddle around with the spindle, lest the strands get entangled
Don’t provoke your superiors or otherwise invite trouble; you might not know how to get out of it later on.

El tiempo es buen consejero, y sabe desengañar
Time is a good counselor and an eye-opener
This Mexican saying advises us to take our time before making decisions.

La suerte no es como la preñez, que dura nueve meses
Luck is not like pregnancy which lasts for nine months
The implication is, of course, that good luck is short-lived. So grab your opportunity when fortune blows your way. "A la ocasión la pintan calva", says one of my favorite Spanish sayings.

Más vale bien quedada que mal casada
Quedada is a traditional term dating back to the good old times when the norm for the adult was to be married. It denotes a woman whose age of eligibility for marriage has passed… unfruitfully. It´s not very complimentary.
Better unwed than badly wed

Debajo del agua mansa está la peor corriente
Manso: tame, docile, meek, gentle-flowing
The worst currents are hidden under gentle-flowing water
At times, people from whom we would never have expected it surprise us with the most virulent outbursts and the worst traits.
Also, under the appearance of serenity and normality some of the biggest life-dramas unfold.

El que más temprano se moja, más tiempo tiene para secarse
He who gets wet earliest has most time to dry
According to this Mexican saying, youth is the most appropriate time to err and act foolishly, as the person still has a lifetime ahead of him to undo the harm…

Contra todo mal, mezcal; contra todo bien, también
To remedy all ills, mezcal; to celebrate any good fortune, the same
In short, a drink for all seasons…

Aquí se rompió una taza, cada quien para su casa...

But don´t forget to visit our other pages of Mexican sayings. There´s one of sayings featuring animals and another one of sayings based on food, which reminds me that it´s high time for a snack and refreshments! ¿Qué tal una limonada preparada y un plato de molletes? Mmmh...


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