Village Life in Spain
Now that our convoy of visitors to Spain has finished it’s been so good to melt back into village life here in Sanlucar. I’ve been going for walks around our little pueblo (village) in the evenings and along the way observing and learning more about Spanish life. I’m still fascinated with how the Spaniards socialise in the streets and parks at night. The village really does come alive and there is not a spare park bench to be seen. Every bench is ocupado with women and men of all ages chatting, laughing and enjoying themselves while children play and ride bicycles around them. It’s quite common for residential apartment buildings to have a café bar on the ground floor. In the evening these too are bustling with activity. There is such a strong community spirit and neighbours really know each other. Can you imagine how different life would be for us westerners if every evening we spent one or two hours catching up with friends and neighbours instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer?
As I walk around the village observing all this I must look like a real alien, for the simple fact that I’m walking alone . . . Spaniards just don’t do that. Not for safety reasons but for social reasons. Sure, if you are on your way to work or some other purpose it’s not strange for someone to be walking on their own, but at all other times I’ve always seen people walking in groups of two or more.
The morning walks are as equally interesting when I’m running a few errands. When I first arrived here I’d buy fruit and vegetables from the supermarket (because that didn’t involve too much language skills), then I stepped things up a notch and would buy them at the village market. This involved much more interaction. I would generally say in Spanish “can I have” and then just point to the item I wanted. In the last week or so I’ve made more of an effort to learn and say the names of the vegetables. The shop owners in Sanlucar are so friendly and kind, they help me with my pronunciation and compliment me when I get it right. I always walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.
On a recent visit to the Post Office it was quite busy unlike previous occasions where there had been only one other person waiting. The Spanish have this system whereby when you walk into a shop with a queue you need to say “La ultimo?” (who’s last?). Miss saying this and you pretty much miss your turn (as I nearly did because I didn’t know about it). Anyway as a result a young man about my age got talking to me (after we sorted out he was next in line after me) and within seconds he was asking me if I was married (they don’t beat around the bush here). It was a nice little opportunity to practice my language skills and I was surprised at how I weaving my words together to form new sentences. After being served at the counter I left the Post Office and stopped by another couple of shops before running into the guy from the Post Office again. This time he asked me what my name was, introduced himself as Felipe and then gave me a kiss on each cheek. A brief conversation followed about how long I’m in Sanlucar for, how often I come into the village and what direction I live in. Such a friendly bunch of people here ;-).
With just a few weeks left here in Spain before making our way back home (via Mardid, Barcelona, Provence and the UK) I’m enjoying the slightly cooler weather and having the time to sit quietly and write about some of the wonderful places and experiences we’ve had on this adventure. Stay tumed : )