Cuban culture in general is incredibly vibrant and colorful. With recent tourism to Cuba rising, foreigners often underestimate how vibrant the buildings, cars, and clothes are in Cuba. And this powerful expression also transfers over into language and proverbs. Although the Cuban diaspora is widespread, our vernacular holds us together. When visiting home recently, my aunt and grandmother came over to share proverbs and common Cuban vernacular with me.
One such proverb is: “Agua Que No Vas a Beber Déjala Correr”. Phonetically, it’s easy to pronounce since it utilizes the same Latin alphabet.
This is Cuban proverb was told to me by my aunt, who’s heard it all her life whether in public or at home. As a native speaker, I’ve heard this proverb a lot while growing up but did not know what it really meant until my aunt explained it. When literally translated, it reads “Water you don’t drink, you should let run.” My aunt explained that the original context means that if an issue does not concern you, you let it be; like water flowing down a stream it is not important to you at all. Sometimes it’s worse, the proverb posits, to become muddled in someone else’s problems. If one tries to solve the problems of another, the one with the problem won’t grow as a result and the situation can become much worse as a result of the intervening. So everyone for themselves, y’all.