After spending over two wonderful years here in Spain, I’ve realized that there are certain things I’ve had to get used to while living here that are, well, unique.
I decided it was time to share some of my experiences and learned behaviors with the blog-reading community, so that you can know what to expect during an extended stay in Spain, and maybe determine if you, too, have been here long enough to agree with some of these. Comments and opinions welcomed!
1. You’ve mastered the “dos besos” (two kisses) and how to properly administer them without accidentally kissing someone on the mouth. At least when sober.
2. You’ve realized the power of goodbye – or the endlessness of goodbye, because every time you leave a place you have to make sure to “dos beso” everything with a pulse so as not to seem rude. This being said, you have learned to prepare to leave at least 10-15 minutes before your actual intended time of departure to avoid hurt feelings.
3. Going out at 11 PM just seems ludicrous – that’s the time you START getting ready. Also, you need to be careful with your digestion, because you probably just finished eating dinner.
4. You know exactly which doors you have to enter on the train or metro so that it drops you off directly in front of a door or escalator or flight of stairs to exit as quickly as possible and avoid the crowd.
5. Speaking of public transportation, you’ve developed a seething hatred for: really smelly people who don’t know they’re smelly but sit down next to you or across from you therefore trapping you in their nasty bubble of B.O.; that group of teenagers or middle aged women that won’t shut up because their opinion is more important than the delicious silence and tranquility that could be your journey; that guy with the music on his cell phone that starts playing hip hop or techno music as loud as possible because clearly, we all want to hear it; people who stand directly in front of the doors as they open; and, of course, the starers, who for some reason, can’t get enough of looking at your for extended and awkward periods of time, all the while with a murderous glare.
6. You know which “chino” (convenience) stores are the “good” ones (that sell alcohol after 11 PM secretly) and actually have a preferred fruit or vegetable stand.
7. “Service with a smile” is a distant dream, and waiters, public employees and everyone else in the service industry also knows it. So you just don’t bother tipping anymore, because it doesn’t matter. And in the absence of wonderful customer service, you’ve learned to appreciate simple “Service without a scowl”.
8. You will not go the bank on the weekend. You will not go to the bank after 2 PM. You will not call the bank for free. You will also not ever see more than one teller at the bank at any given time, regardless of how many people are standing in line. If you’re lucky enough to see more than one teller, don’t get excited – he’s about to get up and walk away to go drink a coffee. And if there are four people in line, there are actually eight – as soon as it’s your turn, there will be four little old ladies emerging from the darkness and insisting that they were there first, but couldnt be bothered to stand in line like the rest of the people.
9. You have given up on trying to pass anyone on the street and accepted that everyone walks the same pace: sloooOOWWW!!
10. You can’t help but smile in the wine aisle at Carrefour when you realize that you can recognize the places you’ve travelled by the wines and liquors typical of the region: Tempranillos from La Rioja, Oloroso and Brandy from Jeréz, Albariño from Galicia, and even Port wine from Porto (oh wait, maybe I’m just an alcoholic… and that last one is in Portugal. Anyway.)
10. Every eight days or so, or more frequently depending on where you live, you will see someone peeing in the street in broad daylight…. And you’re no longer shocked by it.
11. You know that there really is more than one way to make a Tortilla.
12. You know the difference between a caña, clara, tubo, jarra and tercio. And also, between a pintxo, tapa, ración and media.
13. Though you don’t actually take a siesta, you know exactly what is considered “siesta time” and plan your life accordingly so that the shops will be open.
14. You are aware that being called tia and tio doesn’t actually invoke any family ties or a need to buy birthday gifts, and that tronca and tronco don’t mean that you look like a tree.
Feel free to continue this list…. I know I will 🙂