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Hola

First of all: This post is not my creation. It is borrowed from  facebook group. I just loved it and had to include it. At least some bits of it.

It was initiated by a young foreigner who spent a year in Spain and apparently “absolutely loved it”. They are all observations about Spanish life, which makes it different to other countries and cultures.  And it is meant to be taken as ‘tongue in cheek…’

So… You know you have lived in Spain when…

  1. You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is a good idea.
  2. You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home – surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?
  3. You aren’t just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.
  4. You think it’s fine to comment on everyone’s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.
  5. Not giving every new acquaintance “dos besos” (two kisses) seems so rude.
  6. On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’
  7. You think that “aceite de oliva” (olive oil) is a vital part of every meal. And don’t understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.
  8. You’re amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.
  9. You forget to say please when asking for things – you implied it in your tone of voice, right?
  10. You love the phenomenon of giving “toques” (quick calls) – but hate explaining it in English
  11. You don’t see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack – they’re just what all the cool kids eat.
  12. You know what a “pijo” is and how to spot one (not translateable…).
  13. Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: “bueno”, “coño”, “vale”, “venga”, “pues nada”…
  14. You know what a “resaca” is (Hang over).
  15. A bull’s head on the wall of a bar isn’t a talking point for you, it’s just a part of the decor.
  16. You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.
  17. You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.
  18. You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.
  19. The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.
  20. You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo…and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!
  21. On some Sunday mornings you sometimes have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.
  22. Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!
  23. You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.
  24. You know “ensaladilla rusa” has nothing to do with Russia.
  25. When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero (thanks Stuart Line for reminding me of that one!)
  26. You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…
  27. You know that “ahora” doesn’t really mean now. Hasta ahora, ahora vuelvo…etc
  28. When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.15…if you’re lucky!
  29. Aceite de oliva is “muy sano” (very healthy), of course. So you help yourself to a bit more.
  30. Every single news bulletin on TV has at least 10 minutes on Real Madrid news and another 10 on Barcelona Soccer Club news.
  31. When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.
  32. When you know what a guiri is / have been called one
  33. When you add “super” in front of any adjective for emphasis
  34. Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’
  35. When you accept that paying with a 50 euro note is going to get you a dirty look if you’re buying something that costs less than 40 euros
  36. If something is great, it’s “de puta madre” (sorry, not translateable…)
  37. You can eat up to 5 times a day – first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena
  38. You know the jingle for “Los Cuarenta Principales” (Top 40 radio station)…
  39. When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask “Quien es la ultima?” (who is last?)
  40. Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?
  41. You know what ‘marcha’ and ‘juerga’ are.
  42. You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than their real name.
  43. You answer the phone by saying ‘Yes’, (well, or ‘Tell me’) and when identifying yourself you say ‘I’m…’ not ‘It’s…’. And when you try those tactics back home, everyone thinks you’re mad or rude!
  44. If you eat a lot of something, you’re not going to ‘turn into’ it, you’re going to ‘get the face of it,’ e.g ‘te vas a poner cara de chocolate.’ Somehow a lot more amusing!
  45. Drinking coffee out of a glass is entirely normal.
  46. ‘Son las nueve, las ocho en Canarias’ is how you are used to hearing radio DJs announce the time
  47. You’ve been to your local town’s feria/fiesta/semana santa
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Spain, with Cataluña on the top right corner Hola!

quite a touchy topic. But one that tends to generate frequent questions. It is a tough job to answer, but I guess I got into this position all by myself, when I opened the door for you guys to ask “Anything you want to know about Spain”…

To the point

First of all Barcelona is part of Cataluña and part of Spain. This is a political and legal fact. Period.

If that is the case, you wonder, why the heck is it at all being discussed. Well, first of all, because we like discussions. We love them, we need them. It is part of our culture and who we are. Secondly, and most important, because a large number of folks in this beautiful region in the northeast of Spain, think and feel that Cataluña should be independent. And I guess we all agree, that democracy is quite a helpful invention, despite greek…

Historically…

You must accept that it is a daring step from me to actually threaten you with “History”. BUT, see if you enjoy this more free interpretation of it… Ah! And I promise there is a bottom line.

First paper ever written in Catalan languageGosh, wonder where to start… After 700 years of muslim ocupation, Spain finally had managed to fight back its independency. The famous Catholic Kings held most of the country together. By the way, these are the same kings that sponsored Columbus’ discovery of America and that are therefore -very indirectly- responsible for watergate and the superbowl.

Cataluña kept a certain independence. It was never very monarchic, nor very keen on being included in the rest of the big Spanish party. But that independence did not held long. Roughly until 1700, where the Secession War in Spain ended with the Bourbon Crown Family as imposed kings of the whole country. It would have been easy to simpathise with such a great branded family, but… Somehow I recon that the problem started right there . This is …

… a very personal theory built on thin ice …

Catalonia is a wine region. You probably know that by know, since our shared loyal sympathy for “The Spanish Quarter“, our favourite Spanish wine, whose winery is in the heart of Cataluña. Nevermind. I truly believe, that the root cause for the opposition to monarchy was a perceived brand conflict. “We are a wine nation“, the Catalonians thought, “We can not swear trust and loyalty to no Bourbon“. I personally have nothing against Bourbon. “Jack and Ginger” tastes like candy and sounds like a lovesong. A good combination once in a while. But let’s face it, a good “Cabernet-Tempranillo” just does the better job…

Maybe Catalonians were too susceptible. Maybe they made too big of a deal out of a conflict originated in the choice for the right drink. But I guess history took its path and here is where we landed…

Politically…

No, don’t worry. Just kiddin’, I won’t go there. Trust should be honored, not abused. And as you might know, I hate politics anyways.

sagrada-familia-by-nightThe promised bottom line

I think the best part of this whole story lies the process itself. God, we love to discuss and debate. So the best thing that can happen, is for neither “side” to win, but for the discussion to keep going forever. It is a bit like our beloved “Sagrada Familia“, Gaudi’s unfinished master piece. Probably the most spectacular and one of the best known Cathedrals in the world. Under construction since almost 100 years. Scheduled to be finished in 1926, but still far from being finished. We might never finish it. But -again here- we enjoy the process. That’s the fun, isn’t it?

So why don’t we leave it there for today, and get back to where we started, in the heart of beautiful Cataluña, close to “The Spanish Quarter” winery, with a glass of red in our hand, and some friends to start a hot discussion about this topic and my theory. What do you think?

Salud!
Francisco

Hola amigos!

Let me tell you how I found out about this habit: A friend of mine once worked during the holidays as a security guard in a major hottowels appear at nightel in a vacation spot. He had the night shift. Quite quiet and boring. But towards the end of his shift there was a mistery: he was doing the surveilance round in the premises. It was 6 o’clock in the morning and all of a sudden, the first rows at the pool were covered by towels. No one at sight. How did they got there? Can you imagine you walk around a hotel as a guard and nothing happens, other than a few drunken guys that need a gps to find their rooms? Then -misteriously- towels appear for no reason and from nowhere by the pool… He decided to observe the scene and found his answer. Germans and towels. At straight 6 o’clock they woke up, walked down, layed their towels and went back to their rooms. 10 minutes later the pool area was dessert again but covered in towels…

Let me make this clear: We Spaniards, we love Germans. Seriously, we really do. There are mainly two reasons:
1. They make great cars
2. They are wealthy loyal tourists.

But this one thing I don’t get. Why do they have to wake up in their vacation at 6 o’clock in the morning (at night if you ask me) and perform this incredible ritual? After breakfast they go to the pool lay on their pre-arranged towels and spend a few hours getting their “free-of-charge-shrimp-costume” under the sun. Seriously: Why on earth do they have to wake up early and “own” the first row at the pool?

It is such a mistery…

Do they really think someone will take away the best spots at the pool if they don’t do it? What, at seven o’clock? What is wrong with them?!?

The best part is: most often we are talking about a hotel or some kind of what I call “vacation machine”, that has – surprise, surprise – identical towels for all guests. That means, if any Spaniard would come down to the pool and find towels laying there without an obvious owner, they would think: “how friendly!” and just lay down on them.

towels-2There is one reason why that Spaniards do not “steal” the towels from them: It is holiday. You are not supposed to wake up at any time, just because there are suposedly places that are better than others. This means: when the Germans get back to the pool after breakfast, they find their pre-prepared towels and feel proud to be so smart to own the first row at the pool.üAbout at least one hour later, the rest of all other vacation guests with non-german passports will start showing up at the pool. Oh, and should there be any Spaniards at the same “vacation machine” (quite unliekly if you ask me), they will show up about an hour after this second crowd. This is not out of politeness. For God sake: it is vacation!!!

There is one nation where I would understand that they wake up early on vacation: Americans. My fellow USA-people only have ten days of vacation a year! 10 days vacation… If I had only 10 days vacation I would probably not sleep at all! But that is a separate story.

Back to the Germans and their towels: please guys: you have to stop it. Relax. Easy. Its vacation. Its Spain. We are willing to forgive you for wearing leather sandals with white tennis socks. Also for ordering “dos cervezas por favor” (allthough you know now what I think about it). We are even willing to forgive you for making our restaurants cook you dinner at 18 or 19 o’clock, when we Spaniards just finished lunch and are still recovering from it… BUT please don’t stress people out with your crazy towels in the morning. Its madness!

My recomendation: leave your clock at home, specially your alarm clock. Sit on a nice terrasse and have some tapas along with a chilled glass of  “The Spanish Quarter” Chardonnay-Albariño, or your favourite Spanish wine.

Salud!
Francisco

Hola!

Today I start a new series that I hopefully will finish some day (I guess mañana ;-). Not that I thought 10 reasons were difficult to find. I want to make sure I do my homework and research+study them properly.

The first one is easy:

Reason for loving Spain nr 1: HUMOR

humor amigos, humor!We can laugh about everything. Actually we sometimes have to. We love to. I don’t know another culture or country, in which people have such an hability to laugh. We can be serious, but not if we can avoid it.

Jokes are our small talk. I often participate in real joke marathons, where a few crack on jumping from a topic to the other and going on for hours. Seriously.

A few examples:

We are over 90% catholic, we respect Christ and the church. And we believe. But there are a ton of jokes about the last supper, confession, monks and nons… Laugh is a blessing, for god sake!

We are quite liberal in a gay-friendly sense. Barcelona is known to be one of the gay capitals of Europe. But what is so bad about laughing your ass off on gay jokes?

You get my point.

Let me tell you one of my many “top-embarrasing-situations-in-Francisco’s-life” (believe me, I somehow collect them) happened to me in Teruel many years ago. It might illustrate it best.

camaleon bizco (Cross-Eyed)I got to know a group of guys from the area during a summer job. We started a round of jokes. One of the guys had a glass eye. I did not know nor noticed. Just seemed a little cross-eyed. Guess what: Si Señor… I had to do it. I told a joke about a man with a glass eye. And it was long, and it was dirty and it was embarrasing.

I must have been the only one that did not know the guy had a glass eye, since people started getting a bit serious and gave me big eyes. I just thought they were concentrated on following the joke. The only guy that amused himseld and smiled all over the face was my “dont-you-realize-he-has-a-glass-eye-friend”. Everyone else was a bit less easy and very quiet.

ojo en la sopaNevermind: I finished the joke and the guy was laughing in tears. Eventually all softened out and the session continued. A few jokes later another guy from the group approched me from the side and revealed to me in whisper the glass eye secret. Ooooops. Embarrasing…

I have forgotten in the meantime how to turn red, but back then I promise I still knew how to. Red-face and glass-eye crossed looks (or look and a half). He came over and thanked me. It was apparently the first time that someone had told him a joke about the topic. He could totally sympathise with the guy in the joke and was gratefull for having made fun of something that everyone seemed to find dead serious. He said a great sentence that became my lesson that day. A valuable one: “If I have to choose between crying or laughing about sad things that I can’t change, my choice is clear!”

Wherever you are my glass-eyed friend: I raise my wine-glass with a wink and drink to your health. My toast: “brindo por ti, en mi ojo un guiño, y en mi copa Chardonnay-Albariño“.

Ah: if you want to know the joke, you know how to: just ask Francisco ;-)

Salud!
Francisco