On a recent outing to Bocas Del Toro with friends, we took a day trip to Isla Zapatilla, which is a Panamanian National Park. Zapatilla is an uninhabited island with some very lovely beaches. We enjoyed an afternoon of beach-type activities and in summary had a great time on the island.
On our way back to the main island we asked our boat captain if there were any islands we could go to that had monkeys. He replied positively that we could vist – what we heard as (translated to English)- “Island of dangerous bears”. Unaware that non-dangerous bears existed, this place-name was puzzling, nonetheless, we asked to make the detour to the island of dangerous bears in hopes of spying some monkeys.
Monkeys tend to be more of a dawn and dusk thing and today was no exception. We didn’t see any monkeys. We did, however observe a sloth slothing about high in the canopy of this mostly mangrove island. Seeing the sloth prompted us to ask what the word for sloth was in Spanish to which our boat captain again replied with the same string of words that has thus far caused us much vexation. “Oso Peligroso” (is what we all heard) which would translate to “Dangerous Bear” in English. At the time, nobody really said anything about it. On an individual basis I can say for myself that I felt a bit embarrassed about not understanding the words but figured since I’m not a clergyman and I don’t plan on giving any sermons on the seven deadly sins in Spanish, it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t ever need to use the Spanish word for ‘sloth’ so no practical need to know it.
A few days later when some of the same friends were together, somebody uttered the words ‘oso peligroso’. I have no recollection what prompted it, but I do recall that the utterance of those words resulted in uproarious laughter. We all understood that none of us had understood. Either that or the Spanish word for sloth really is oso peligroso, which would actually be quite humorous.
Fast forward a few more days, and there I was, in some waiting room for some governmental agency and the National Geographic channel was on the television. Oddly enough I was actually thinking about the dangerous bear and if a Spanish speaking priest gives a sermon on the seven deadly sins if the same word would be used. “Thou shalt not dangerous bear” or some such… Anyhow at that exact moment an image of a sloth came on the tv and its caption read ‘Oso Perezoso’ which would translate to something along the lines of ‘lazy bear’ or ‘slow bear’ which makes much more sense than dangerous bear. So much for the humour, but hooray for new knowledge.
So now I have increased my Spanish vocabulary with something that, seriously, I will probably never use again. Unfortunately, this bit of knowledge probably occupies the space formerly inhabited by the location of my keys so I’ll never be able to find them.