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What is amarrar el perro in Costa Rica

What is amarrar el perro in Costa RicaAmarrar el perro is to tie down the dog. But in Costa Rica, amarrar el perro is something that might happen to you if you’re not careful: Someone you know asks for a loan but will never pay it back.

There is a good reason for not making that loan.  The reason is that you might not be able to collect, so le amarraron el perro!

In Costa Rica, collecting a debt is done in civil court, not in criminal court. That means that si le amarran el perro, you’ll be in court for the next 7 years or so.

Now, when the money owed is paid, the borrower, or deudor, this person can say cuentas claras chocolate espeso – we are even.

If the debt is NOT paid, you can call the borrower un ladrón (male), una ladrona (female), or estafador(a).


A few other expressions with the word ladrón or thief are:

Con ladrones y gatos, pocos tratos – be leery when dealing with dishonest people

Ladrón que roba a ladrón, tiene cien años de perdón – thief stealing from a thief, will be pardoned

What is amarrar el perro in Costa Rica


An expression used for stealing money is Ella se le fue arriba con la plata

Other words for thief are rata or, pillo. A young thief (child) is a chapulín.

But, robarse el show is stealing the show or taking away all the attention.


Engañar is the correct word for to cheat. Other words for cheating are agarrar de mono or agarrar de maje


There are a few expressions that involve the word money, or dinero. But the word plata is more common in Costa Rica.

Hablar es plata, callar es oro: there is more reward in silence than in conversation

La plata jala plata – money attracts money

Plata en mano, culo en tierra – pay first before making a deal

A lot of money is un platal or un dineral.

Do you know why you should deal with GoDutch Realty when you buy a property in the Central Valley? You won’t spend a platal y nadie le va a amarrar el perro. Contact us now.

I’d like to thank Christopher Howard and Alf Giebler again for their assistance by using their Guide to learning Spanish and A Lo Tico.

The Spanish grammar of this blog was checked and corrected by Wagner Freer of Spanish School for Residents and Expats. We strongly recommend this language school as your best choice to learn Spanish, click here to contact them.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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