My Spanish habits that foreigners just don’t get
Spaniards like to pace along the beach. Esparta Palma / Flickr
Do the Spanish have certain habits you just can't work out? Here Spanish author Alberto Letona lists a number of typical national traits or customs that leave his Anglo friends bemused…or if queuing is involved, even enraged.
1. We are very noisy
Photo: SETShots / Flickr
Noise is everywhere in Spain whether in restaurants, on the buses, or at the beach. In bars the TV is often on, even if people aren't watching. This makes conversations louder and the Spanish difficult to understand, for non-native and natives alike. The latter are more resourceful; They will raise their voice even louder to be heard.
.2. We go to bed late
Photo: Bark / Flickr
Staying up late is part of daily life in Spain. At home it is not unusual to have dinner at ten and if you go to a restaurant, you'll find it difficult to get a table before 9pm. At weekends we don't start going out until at least 9pm and the night can be very long. Work is mañana.
3. We kit ourselves out for sport
Photo: The Pug Father/Flickr
Dressing in the correct way to take exercise is a rule for the locals. So much so that you'd be forgiven for thinking you were at the Vuelta de España with professional cyclists when you use Spanish roads on the weekends. Don't blow your horn at them, they would not take it graciously.
4. We like to be in a crowd
Photo: Allen Skyy/Flickr
The Spaniards are very gregarious. We all go out for a stroll at the same time and usually to the same places. Sometimes with friends, and other times with family, but very rarely alone.
5. We like to party…a lot
The summer fiestas of every village in Spain are a kind of social event that you cannot miss. This is the place to see and be seen. The younger ones enjoy their first drinks in life, and their parents are most likely enjoying themselves preparing traditional dishes with their friends.
6. We are a contradiction in terms
Liberal-minded but conservative in their life style is a description that fits many Spaniards. Even the most politically left wing citizens are ready to take part as a pious believer in the religious processions at Easter.
7. We pace up and down the beach
Photo: Esparta Palma/Flickr
Pacing up and down the seashore is a favourite pastime for anyone over thirty. Sometimes the beaches get so crowded with people marching back and forth that it is difficult to imagine this activity as a pleasurable stroll. But we do it anyway.
8. We all want to work in the public sector
Photo: tec_estromberg / flickr
Being a "funcionario" (civil servant) is a very sought after and carefully planned occupation for many. A job for life is often a source for admiration or envy among the different social classes in Spain.
9. We abandon our offices en masse at 11am
Photo: Alda Chou
Mid-morning is the time when everybody working in an office walks out to have a long coffee break in the bar with their colleagues. This is the moment to talk about the trials and tribulations of domestic life. Sometimes if the conversation is very engaging the break can go on a long time.
10. We don't do queuing
Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr
Jumping the queue is a national trait. Very few people respect queues in this country. If you are catching a bus, please be aware of old ladies. They are sometimes the most pushy and will try to go first, even if they know that you have been waiting longer.
Aberto Letona is the author of Hijos e Hijas de la Gran Bretaña – Sons and Daughters of Great Britain – in which he delves into the psyche of the British in an attempt to explain them to his own countrymen.