I decided to celebrate the fact that we moved to Spain in 5 years ago today, 16th January 2008 to share with you some of the many differences that we come across daily. Please remember we live in a small, very traditional town in rural Andalucia, this is what we see! Enjoy!
Children are adored!
It is not unusual for a baby to be taken out of it's pram by a possible stranger. Luckily I had told my son about this so he wasn't too concerned when a lady took my little granddaughter off him for a cuddle, on a visit here.
Photograph? Of course!
If a child is all dressed up for a fiesta and I ask if I can take a photograph it has never been refused, often the mum will even pose the child so I can best see her dress.
Teenage boys here are not at all threatening. Maybe it's the mullet hair style that is still in fashion, or maybe it's the fact that most of them cross themselves, when passing the shrine in the high street.
To slap or not to slap?
It is not unusual to see a child get a slap here. Not a hard slap, but I think it's instead of "Wait til your father gets home!"
Not just at us, 'The English!' They stare at each other too. The best way to break it is smile. Workers are the best to stare at, it seems. An elderly man can while a way an hour or more simply watching people at work.
More mature ladies work, whilst the men sit and watch people!
The ladies can be seen every morning cleaning the outside of their property and sweeping and MOPPING the pavement, very often in their housecoat. Then men will be sitting with their mates in the town.
Women are always smart, no trainers!
It's a fact, they only wear trainers if they are walking for exercise.
They live for ever!
I'm not sure if it's the healthy food or the vitamin D, but the elderly seem to live for ever here. We saw one lady having been taken on a trip to the garden centre by her family. I'm guessing and hoping they left her in the car as she fell asleep, as she looked dead to me!
No queues in the bank.
If you are waiting to be served in a bank or the local pharamcy you stand in a huddle, lean against the wall or sit in a chair. You ask the person who seems to be hovering near who the door, who was the last person. "que es la última?"
All the shops here bar one supermarket close for a siesta. The average working day is 9am til 1.15, close for a siesta, then re open at 4.30 until 9pm. The town will be a ghost town during siesta time.
Plus of course everything closes on Sundays!
Free tapas... mmmm!
Most bars give some sort of free tapas with your drinks order. A plate of crisps, or assorted nuts, at least. At our favourite bar in town you don't need any lunch, if you are there at the right time!
You go out about 11pm, especially during the hot summer. The children can be playing in the park until at least 1am.
At the Cordoba market it's not unusual to find an elderly gent sitting with a crate of (what look like) garden snails for sale!
You can buy terapins, goldfish, little chicks and finches... sadly!
The ladies try everything on, over their clothes, even bikinis and bras.
Elderly men are often seen being dressed by their wives. Having jumpers pulled over their heads or fastening belts for them.
Cars v pedestrians.
If as a pedestrain you are crossing a zebra crossing, it is not the done thing to say thank you.
Similarly if you are letting a car out of a side turning, do not expect any thanks!
The trains are spotless and run on time. You are given a designated seat and the carriage maybe empty, apart from the person you are sitting beside!
Pardon, what are they? Well we have chosen to live like this of course, but the only bill we have to pay is council tax which is aproximately 200 euros FOR THE YEAR! Of course that's because we have only solar energy and water from the spring. This does of course mean we cannot have lights or the television on, if it is cloudy, (like today) and no central heating of course!
Payment for things!
When we order hay we struggle to pay. We have to hassle the farmer a few months down the line to arrange payment. This will take place in a bar, but this year he didn't even bother to turn up so we had to find out where he lived!
The dogs in town often take themselves for a walk. Sadly because of this there are many dogs that appear to be stray, but you are not really sure if they have an owner or not.
All small dogs wear coats, or jumpers.
People don't castrate their animals.
Spain is a very macho country and they will not castrate. This is the main reason so many dogs are running around the countryside. It's very sad!
The vet comes to our house, as we live in the country and injects all our dogs there. Of course if it's a minor matter we will go to him. He maybe at the surgery or out at an emergency in the campo, or at a bar having morning coffee!
When our male dogs were castrated Alan was expecting to leave them and go back but no, he had to stay and hold their legs open!
When Geri our elderly dog tore her cruciate ligament and needed an operation in the city, they put her under the aneasthetic whist I was there, and brought her out again, when I returned. So she suffered the least stress possible. The vet asked if I wanted to stay throughout the procedure Errr no thank you!
Health and safety.
There seem to be very little if any health and safety laws. Fairground rides have few seat belts or harnesses. Hot churros and donut stalls have hot fat swilling about. The children just do not touch. During processions someone walks in front in holds up the electricity cables!
Underground car parks, and even at the the local garage their is always great music playing.
Of course this list could go on and on, but for my friends back in the UK maybe it will give them a peep into our lives!