se las trae


Entre aquí y Soria hay un puerto que se las trae.

se las trae [expression] – tricky, complicated, “something else”

When I visit a part of Spain I’ve not been to before, I never fail to be blown away by this country’s myriad hidden gems. It’s outrageous that the Spanish tourism industry doesn’t make more of its millenial heritage. The majority of tourists who come here don’t see the real Spain at all. They’re missing out on so much.

Rant over. I’m as guilty as the next person. We’re spending a week in the heart of Spanish wine country, and I cannot believe I have never been here before. Medieval monasteries, ancient squares, narrow streets and fabulous tapas bars are two-a-penny here. And it’s only a few hours from Madrid by car.

So onto today’s expression… We were driving through the green valleys of La Rioja, when I saw a signpost to Soria. I asked Alejandro if it was far from here.

No mucho. Pero entre aquí y Soria hay un puerto que se las trae.” [Not very. But between here and Soria there’s a mountain pass that is really tricky/something else.]

Uh huh. Se las trae, eh? It’s an expression I’ve heard before, but I felt the need to dig a little deeper and work out the best way to translate it. The first word that sprang to mind was tricky or complicated. But the word-geeky forums suggest se las trae can also be used in a positive sense, so I came up with something else. However, the positive usage isn’t listed in the DRAE or other online dictionaries, so the examples I found may well be from a dodgy source. (Note to self: don’t believe everything you read in an online translation forum.)

This is a classic example of a pernickety translator going around the houses to find the best word, only to settle for the first one that sprang to mind. Oh well. Story of my life. Happy 2016, word geeks!


9 thoughts on “se las trae

  1. Razwana Wahid

    So then .. how much wine did you drink as opposed to buy to take home?

    I’m thinking a 2-week road trip through Spain may be on the cards, Louisa. What route do you suggest?

    1. My Little Spanish Notebook Post author

      I brought it all home in my tummy! 😀 (Car way too full of crap already and Rioja readily available in Madrid, so no need to stock up.) Hmmm, are you coming by car from Paree? I have no idea what route would be best. What do you fancy seeing? Each region of Spain is sooo different. That’s what I love about it. But you’d need a year (or more!) to do it all. Some of my favourite cities are Salamanca, Toledo, Madrid (of course), Barcelona, Pamplona, Seville, Granada and I love the northern regions of Galicia and Asturias too, plus the eastern area (avoiding the ugly tourist honey pots). The whole of Spain has incredible, surprisingly varied countryside: plains, desert, snow-topped mountains, green hills, you name it. The only answer is to live here! That’s no help, is it? I don’t think I’d make a good tour guide! :-/

  2. Abbi Gutierrez

    Hi Louisa, I have just booked flights to Spain and was thinking it would be nice to meet you and your family in person, as a fellow blogger and ES>EN translator! We are in Barcelona for a few days then travelling to Madrid on Monday 29th Feb until we fly back to Bristol on the Fri 4th March. We will be staying with a friend of mine in Morata de Tajuña, a village to the South East of Madrid. Let me know if you’re free. Cheers, Abbi

    1. My Little Spanish Notebook Post author

      Hey Abbi! I’d love to meet up!! (It’d be my first real-life blog friend meet-up! Do you think it’d be weird?!!!) I’ll have a think and come up with some suggestions of fun things we could do, and you can work out which fits in best with your plans, little one, etc. Remind me a bit nearer the time, if I don’t get back to you. How fun! Happy new year! 😀

  3. Santiago Pérez

    Hi Louisa. I don’t remember had heard “se las trae” in a positive sense; I suppose it’s more usual in the other form with the meaning of “complicated” o “very difficult”. Yours is a very interesting blog. I,m reading you. Bye.

    1. My Little Spanish Notebook Post author

      Hi Santiago. It’s always good to hear confirmation from a native speaker. Thank you. I appreciate the feedback. Sorry for the delay in replying – my blog notifications get “lost in the ether” sometimes… PS – I just re-learned “jilguero” thanks to your recent post. It was in my son’s reading book a month or two ago, and we had to look it up, but I’d forgotten again. (It’s “goldfinch” in English. Let’s see if I can keep it in my vocab bank now). 😀

  4. My Little Spanish Notebook Post author

    That’d do it! Hope you’re adapting to fatherhood well -and to your newfound fame after your Trump-Is-On-The-Verge-of-Breakdown post went viral. Congrats on both fronts. Exciting times! Lovely obsessing over the fine details of intriguing Spanish expressions with you. Do pop back soon. Ciao.


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