Caló: You left your chivas

Órale, chiva is the word for this episode of Caló. In Spanish, it means “goat.” In Caló, it means “stuff,” as in “my stuff” or “their stuff.” It invokes a general aesthetic of a goatherd going through life herding goats, which straggle, get lost and sometimes even get poached by predators.

By Oscar “El Marfa” Rodriguez

“So, tío, were you in the south or west? Or did you leave Monitos, say, to go to Bastos?” Boy asked Tavo.

“It was a cantinita, a little bar I go to now and then,” said Tavo.

“Sirol, tío, but más o menos where? There’s lots of cantinitas and you seem to go to all of them. Without a clue, it’ll take us weeks to find your pickup,” said Boy.

“Hmmm. Let’s go talk to Vicki. He’s staying at the fairgrounds now. I think I gave him a ride that night.”

“A revival tent in the fairgrounds! He’s staying there?” asked Boy incredulously when they arrived.

“Simón, he’s very religious now,” said Tavo.

Vicki sat alone inside the airy tent. “Chale, you didn’t give me a ride anywhere. You came here with Cuito and his, er, girlfriend, Cuita or Tita or whatever, but then left cuz I wouldn’t drink beer. And you left some chivas behind,” said Vicki, handing Tavo a Stetson and sunglasses. 

This meant half an hour trip back to the Southside.

When they got to Cuito’s, they found nobody was home.

“He’s shopping groceries,” said Tita, looking over the wooden fence between her house and Cuito’s.

“Hey, ruca, you know where I parked my Datson when I gave you a ride?” asked Tavo.

“Nel, ese. I drove us here cuz you were lit! Then you and Cuito went across the street to Chabela’s to keep at it. Ask her. But before you go, here’s a chiva you asked me to hold for you so you wouldn’t lose it,” said Tita, handing Tavo an ice pick.

“Eeee, that’s my key,” said Tavo.

“So what’s the key fob with the keys for?” asked Boy as they crossed the street.

“Oh, the ignition switch doesn’t work, so I use the pick. But the fob does work. It honks the horn,” said Tavo.

“Nice,” said Boy as they waited for Chabela to come to the door.

“Miralo — look at him,” said Chabela.

“Hey, you know where my Datson is?” asked Tavo.

“Eeee, you lost your big chiva, huh?” said Chabela.

Tavo and his nephew didn’t say anything.

“Pos I don’t know. I took you home in my own car after you went to the store to buy beer and came back empty-handed,” said Chabela.

“Órale!” said Tavo gleefully. “Just drive around the parking lot and I’ll click the fob to find my chiva.”

Tavo clicked and clicked the fob as they drove through the middle of the crowded lot. Soon the heard a honk.

“There it is. How did it get here without the pick?” said Tavo.

“Must have come on its own. You know how those chivas are,” said Boy.

About Annie Rosenthal

Annie Rosenthal is Marfa Public Radio's border reporter and a Report for America corps member.
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