a wandering woman writes

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You know you've lived in Spain when....

This list showed up in an e-mail from a Salmantina who's been working for the Spanish tourism office in Chicago for just about a year now.

While I've enjoyed all of this Salmantina's reports from my "home town", not even this amusing list beats the photo of an ice encrusted bedroom window she forwarded last winter. If she dreamed of winning the eternal admiration of the Salmantinos she'd left behind, she did so with that photo. That frozen window is still the talk of Salamanca, and the courage and presumed clothes-layering talents of the woman who dared lived behind it are legendary.

Without further ado, here are a few amusing ways to recognize an American who's lived in Spain.

You know you've lived in Spain when:

1 You can't for the life of you figure out why bars and clubs keep closing down just as you get started with a night out. Surely the night's just beginning?

2 You aren't just surprised that the plumber, painter or repairman has turned up on time; you're surprised he turned up at all.

3 You think it's nice to tell everyone how great they look today.

4 Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos just feels so rude.

5 What's with all this butter on toast? And where's the olive oil? Toast without olive oil? Is this a joke?

6 You forget to say please and thank you when asking for things. You implied it in your tone of voice, right?

7 You don't see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack - they're just what the cool kids eat.

8 Every sentence you speak in English contains at least one of the following: 'bueno,' 'vale,' 'venga,' 'pues nada'...

9 You recognize clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.

10 You have friends named Jesus, José María, María José, Ángel, and Inmaculada Concepción. Many of each, in fact.

Let me add a few of my own:

You can't even think about drinking coffee with cold milk.

Nor will you entertain the possibility of a meal without bread. How will you get the food to your mouth?

You plan nothing until you are about to do it. And you think nothing of spontaneously calling friends, and yes, expecting them to drop what they're doing and join you.

You say goodbye at least a dozen times before actually leaving. Anywhere.
Often these goodbyes last long than the visit that preceded them.

Ah, and my favorite:

You plan a 5-week unpaid vacation to walk a pilgrim's route across the country, alone, and nobody blinks an eye. Even the most casual acquaintances merely make note of your start date, to be sure to call during the walk and egg you on.



  • I confess my husband and I are not big night owls; I used to be but I had to admit I work better in the mornings so that meant going to bed earlier so I can make the most of it. But the other day, on a Friday, I got home around 10:45pm, hadn't really eaten anything substantial and since hubby was also hungry we decided to go downstairs and look for something to eat. We live right downtown Toronto and have dozens of restaurants right at our doorstep. But it seems all of them agreed that 11pm made for a good closing time. Having come back from Spain not too long ago, we were shocked! While we appreciate being able to go for dinner at 6 pm if we feel so inclined, we had no idea restaurants closed this early!

    Loved the list! Have a copy it on my blog?

    By Anonymous Alexandra, at 1:00 AM  

  • Copy away, Alex. I edited the heck out of it, I suspect she got it from an American college student who'd studied here a while.

    Chuckled at your fruitless search for food. ;)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:26 AM  

  • Isn't that the life everyone dreams of living?
    Spontaneity is what keeps us from turning into robots.

    By Blogger Cream, at 10:51 AM  

  • Yes, we miss the spontaneity too... I mean, WE still do it. Since I'm at university and my friends have irregular working hours, I often call them out of the blue to go for coffee and the like. The only difference is that we don't get those random calls anymore :( And Alan is totally depressed because he had a big group of friends who worked irregular hours in Barcelona and he always had someone to "hang out" with. Here in Toronto it seems all his friends work 9-5. There no one to hang out with during the day, he says. Of course, he always gets the Torontonians upset when he says he's having a hard time readjusting to life here, that things are too boring here.

    But today he starts Spanish lessons! And we're booked to spend Christmas in Barcelona and New Years in Paris! So things look good...

    By Anonymous Alexandra, at 4:08 PM  

  • Yes, I remember the goodbyes. I used to ask people if this was going to be an English goodbye or a Spanish goodbye, like I used to ask, do you mean spanish time or english time?
    Plus getting really used to seeing people naked. I saw more naked people when i was in spain than i had in my whole life before. I have never seen my sisters naked but i have now seen my best friend's mother.

    By Anonymous emma, at 6:43 PM  

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