when in spain..

Travelling, sometimes you can’t help but notice something and think.. hmm, well that wouldn’t fly back home.

In Peru, for example, it seems to still be a ‘thing’ to use pay phones. In the states, we would be like “Girrrrrrl, where yo’ cell phone at?” Ain’t nobody got time to call collect.

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Kidding, we would probably be like, “Ma’am, can you please keep your alpaca off the sidewalk?”

*I am not an idiot, nor completely insensitive to the economic differences between Peru and the United States that are probably why this woman isn’t using a personal mobile device, so if for some reason you’re offended, stop it.

We might also bat an eye or twelve if we saw this back in good old California.

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Just kidding, thats a really cool outfit Dad.

Seriously though, in California this would be met with all kinds of police intervention. (Unless you’re in SF Mission district after a Giants win, in which case they would make an attempt to control it and then probably give up after being hit in the head with a beer bottle. Or they might just decide to ghost ride the police whip <– way better idea)

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Bonfires and fireworks in the streets, not a regulation or fire extinguisher to be found. Just another New Year’s celebration in Quito, Ecuador. This was a residential neighborhood, for the record.

Over the last few months in Spain, I’ve definitely noticed some differences in what is culturally acceptable here versus back in California, and have gathered my well- researched data here for you to peruse. (by well researched I mean not researched and by data I mean I saw it and went, “huh!” and then typed it into the notes section on my phone… I am very scientific)

  • Want to eat breakfast in a bar on a Tuesday morning? Go for it. You will not be considered an alcoholic and shunned by your family (I was going to say peers, but if they’re your peers they might be alcoholics too). Many bars in Spain open for breakfast an serve coffee, pastries, sandwiches and juice without a side of judgment. It is completely normal to suggest breakfast at the same bar you had 12 Estrellas at the night before.
  • Sidewalks are not just for walking, people. They are also great places to park your motorcycle. I distinctly remember a friend of mine in San Francisco either having his moped towed or ticketed because it was found on the sidewalk. In Spain, the sidewalk basically exists as a parking lot for mopeds, scooters and motorcycles. Sure, we have some signposted spaces on the street, but it is SO much more convenient (and fun!) to chase people out of the way in order to park, reminiscent of Schwarzenegger in Eraser, gunning it on a crotchrocket down the middle of a crowded sidewalk.
  • Apartment buildings are pretty misleading. When I moved here, I was technically living on what was called the “3rd floor”… which was actually 5 floors up. Now, I am living in what is called the “altell” apartment, and I literally have no clue what that means. It should be the first floor, but in between me and the actual first floor we have “Principal” (main)  and “Entresuelo” (literally, between floors). I tried to walk up to the roof the other day, under the misconception that my whole building has 5 floors (as indicated by the mailboxes AND the buzzers at the front door)… FALSE MY FRIENDS. Eight floors up, I finally found the door to heaven. It’s populated by a Shit-Tzu that really likes to let you know he’s here to stay and is not shutting up about it.
  • Spanish culture is very much a culture of the night. Dinner is eaten anywhere between 9pm and 11 pm, and if you want a cup of coffee in this city at 7 am, that literally might not be a possibility. Even grocery stores don’t open until 9 am. On weekends, you might head to the clubs at 3 am, and I attended a concert the other night at which the doors didn’t even open until after 1. I shared the Californian bar/club opening hours and alcohol restrictions with someone from Spain the other day and they almost didn’t believe me…. I mean, how are we supposed to be drinking at the bars at 10 pm if thats still right in the middle of dinner time?
  • One of my personal favorite differences between California and Spain is that its very common here to refer to people as “guapo” (boys) or “guapa” (girls), a word that means either pretty or handsome, depending on who it’s directed at. Especially on days when I’m not feeling so hot, it feels really good when the olive lady tells me I’m pretty, even if she probably doesn’t mean it like that. It does get a little confusing though when people that are theoretically within the realms of sexual possibility use it though.. DO YOU ACTUALLY THINK I’M PRETTY OR ARE YOU JUST BEING POLITE? (and this is why girls get crazy).
  • Personal space is also a little less well-defined in Spain. Literally, the first thing you do when you meet a new person is kiss them, and the ‘casual touch’ is actually just a casual touch (sometimes a touch is just a touch guys). This is not a complaint in any way, for the record, but for us expats its a little strange to be sitting on a bench with plenty of space around you and have someone you’ve never seen before come up and literally sit right next to you or walk so close that they actually touch your body. Honestly, though, its actually super weird when someone tries to shake my hand these days.. like, ew, I could get Ebola from touching that. Now kiss me, goddammit!

Now, I am sure that someone might read this and take offense, but I’m totally cool with that. I actually hope someone trolls me. If I am offensive enough to have haters, that must mean I’m doing something right. The fact is, I am not sharing any of these observations because I have any issue with them… although it would be awesome to be able to have a killer night out AND be in bed by 3 am. In the meantime, I’ll just be here basking in the afterglow of my latest interaction with the olive lady… she’s started to use superlatives (today I was guapisima!)

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