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Gringa Guide to Spanish: Cleaning With a Palo Cubano

by Amanda La Gringa
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Gringa Guide to Spanish: Cleaning With a Palo Cubano

Over the weekend, my roommate and I finally broke down and hired someone to clean the “Casita Gringa“…as we call it. I never thought I would be someone to hire a maid/muchacha/cleaning lady, but it turns out that when I’m not working hard at my day-job, I would much rather spend my valuable spare tiempo in Miami on vital activities like going to the beach, brunching, watching the sunset or working on the blog.

As we prepared for the cleaning lady to arrive, we collected all the productos that we had been using to clean our place…which included a Swiffer, broom, Windex, paper towels, and Lysol wipes. I bet you can guess what happened next!

We quickly learned that these were not proper cleaning supplies and given a list of items that we needed to purchase…so, to save my fellow gringos/gringas some time and embarrassment and so my latino amigos can get a good laugh out of it, I would like to share this lista with you all:

  1. Palo Cubano: Our Wet-jet Swiffer is apparently no match for a stick…because our cleaning lady refused to clean our place with anything else. My only question: why is it called a palo CUBANO and not a palo Latino/Mexicano/Colombiano? Did Cubans invent this? Please explain.
  2. Trapo: As you can see from the photo above, no palo cubano is complete without a set of trapos  to throw over the end. This is apparently the magical combination of cleaning tools. Being the gringas that we are, we obviously didn’t have any spare trapos (which are actually just rags) lying around….so we had to cut up a towel, which is an acceptable alternative but not ideal.
  3. Mistolin: Well, it turns our that Mistolin is actually a thing…because I thought our cleaning lady was trying to pronounce Mr. Clean….and that’s what I bought for her to use. #GringaProblems
  4. Cubeta: Do most people just have big spare buckets sitting around their casa? Well…this gringa doesn’t, so our cleaning lady had to settle for the plastic beach toy I use to build sand castles…which does also double as a bucket, thankfully.

So after a quick trip to Navarro, we are now the owners of these practical yet interesting cleaning products. You should be proud of these gringas!

Pero ahora…tell us! Do you swear by the palo/trapo combination? What other cleaning supplies should we add to our lista!?

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Sarah Stanley March 16, 2013 - 8:02 pm

First, I want to say I love your blog and can 100% relate to you guys – I'm originally from the midwest but have been an exchange student in Spain, travelled to many Spanish-speaking countries, I'm currently pursuing my PhD in Spanish (BA and MA also in Spanish), been a bilingual and Spanish teacher…lover of all things Latino as well! I stumbled upon it looking for more info on the new Michel Telo/Carlos Vives song. Anyway, I was in Cuba last summer, and I can tell you this is all cubanos use to clean their floors. Even my Caribbean lit professor from Cuba will only use it in her house here (I currently live in Houston, Texas). Great blog, keep up the great work, chicas!

Las Gringas March 17, 2013 - 11:25 am

Thanks so much for your comment Sarah! Stay connected with us and feel free to share your experiences with us too! Saludos!

Jorge Vargas October 20, 2013 - 12:50 am

LOL! Funniest thing I have read! @ thought the cleaning lady was trying to pronounce Mr. Clean hahahaha!


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