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Hola amigos!

I love democracy. To celebrate it, and upon popular request, I start today a new section. It is called “Francisco Answers” and will be dedicated to some of the more popular questions and topics that have received the most interest from “mis queridos amigos” (my dear friends, i.e. YOU).

I hope it is interesting to know what other people ask and find out about Spain. The idea is for the topics to be picked based on popular interest, but don’t expect it to be always like that.

Saludos
Francisco

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Hola!

Unbelievable but true. I continue the series. You must know that we Spaniards are not good at discipline… But we have other qualities. For example:

guitarra EspañolaReason for loving Spain nr 2: MUSIC

Let me set this clear: I do not imply that we are superior musicians, composers, dancers or anything (though we do pretty good). What I mean is what a role music plays in our lifes, in our culture.

Music in Spain is everywhere, everyday. Spain in general is quite a loud country. But interestingly, that loudness is seldom anoying. I have noticed and thought about it? I think the answer is music. It is always there, adding a note of acoustic color to the loudness.

Music in Spain is enormously varied. Few countries have experienced such an incredible cultural traffic. We have been invaded/visited by Phoenitians, Iberos, Celts, Romans, Arabs, French… Even today we get invaded/visited, especially by Brits or Germans. We call it now tourism and charge for it, as opposed to die from it (at least most of the time). And yes: we love tourists. Seriously!

jota aragonesaWell all of those folks/visitors/invadors have left a tremendous cultural legacy in our peninsula. And musical influences are definetly a great part of it. From the Celt tones you find in the north, north-west, to the obvious arab influences you find in flamenco music. I think its remarkable what an acoustic footprint has been built over the centuries.

We have the Jota in Aragón, the Sardana in Cataluña, the Chotis in Madrid… And this is – believe me – just a small selection. In Andalucía alone we have Flamenco, Soleá, Bulería, Cante Jondo, Sevillanas, Fandago… And that is just one region.

There is a long list of famous Spanish musicians to choose from, but that would deserve another post.

quien canta su mal espantaBut what really strikes foreigners most, is how much we love singign loud. It does not matter if we are good at it. It is fun. It feels good.

We usually prefer to sing in Spanish. We are not very good in speaking English. We might not have a clue about the words of this or that song or what it means. But we try our best and our loudest…

One of many sayings in Spain that are linked to music is: “Quien canta su mal espanta”, meaning: He who sings scares away his evil. Maybe that is why we tend to be in a good mood?

Or is it our wine? Not sure. I think I will sing out loud, along with a glass of  “The Spanish Quarter” Tempranillo-Cabernet and try to find out. Why don’t you try the same?

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