“Cruzar el Niagara en Bicicleta

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. When visiting home recently, my aunt and grandmother came over to share common Cuban vernacular with me. This one specifically came from my mother.

Her idiom is: “Cruzar el niagara en bicicleta”. Phonetically, it’s easy to pronounce since it utilizes the same Latin alphabet. It’s literal translation is “Cross Niagara Falls on a bicycle.” However, when one says the idiom they really mean that something is incredibly difficult or impossible, like crossing Niagara Falls on a bicycle.

My mom was the oldest of three children, witnessing and remembering the most out of her siblings. Also as the oldest, more emphasis was put on her by her father to be successful. In high school, when she expressed interest in a career that fulfilled her, her father would refuse by using the idiom. She was severely limited, but ultimately found ways to overcome her father’s presence by moving out to seek a college education. She’s such a badass she makes crossing Niagara Falls on a bicycle look easy.