Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death

Last night, I had a particularly poor night of sleep. I went to bed at 10pm and fell asleep around 3am. The little ones woke me up around 6:30am.

When I stumbled down into the kitchen all “zampaguado” (a very rural slang term that I learned in Costa Rica, which essentially means groggy), I said this:

Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death Shirt Black
Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death Organic Cotton T-Shirt

Then I said this to my wife: “Oh, I should put that on a shirt”.

So there it is.

After 2 cups of coffee, I feel a little better.

Going back to that word “zampaguado”…

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer up in the mountains of Costa Rica, in a little small town called La Cruz de Abangares, I lived in a cinder block house, and across the street lived a family with a dog that lived outside its house. This dog was keen on barking non-stop, starting around 2am every morning. One night, around 4am, while it was barking, I went outside and threw some rocks towards it to get it to shut up. This sounds very mean, but: 1) I didn’t hit the dog, nor intend to, and 2) this is very customary in rural Central America, where the concept of having a dog is totally different than in the USA.

The dog shut up. As I was turning to go back in my house to go to sleep, I noticed someone walking up the dirt street my way. It was Deibys, a boy who was around 14 at the time. He was up early to go milk cows. I said hi, and he said “ay mae me siento todo zampaguado”, which I learned translates to “aw man I feel so groggy”.

So 13 years or so later, I still use that word when I’m feeling groggy. Back then I didn’t drink coffee (though I lived in a coffee-growing region!). If I did, I may have said “Give me coffee, or give me death”!

Published by Artist Dave White

I'm an Artist in Ashburn, Virginia. You can find my artwork at,, and

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