Saturday, 23 August 2008

Walking Spanish down the hall

These things are different in Spain:

  • People don´t say "hello" as a new arrival enters a shop or bar.

We walk in an almost constant chain of people and have to modulate our pace, so we don´t trip over them.

Bits of lost clothing are snagged on branches at regular intervals. You could dress yourself from these items of drying laundry.

The hostels sleep ninety to a room. Or more.

  • Village streets are of concrete, rapid to lay and cheap.
  • We can´t communicate.

There is a mania for covering countryside paths with nice, tidy, easy ribbons of concrete. Ouch.

  • In villages and old town centres you can´t see a shop or bar until you are upon it: no new plate glass and neon here. If it´s in the long, closed hours of the afternoon, all you´ll see (or walk right past) are the closed shutters of what might be a barn door.

In Pamplona the pedestrian crossings count down the seconds till you can cross and again the seconds you have left to cross. It doesn´t change people´s behaviour, but the little green man speeding up towards the end makes people laugh.

  • Spanish people are fatter than French people: No, that´s not right. There are thin Spanish people. But a lot of Spanish people are a lot fatter.
  • Breakfast can contain a tower of freshly friend donuts dipped into melted chocolate. Or toasted bread spread with olive oil and salt. See above.

In laundrettes, women in white take your clothes and wave you away for two hours, to go look around.

    • There are thousands of adverts on TV, most of them while you´re waiting for the weather forecast.

    There are always too many walkers for the café´s chairs.

    • Fresh-pressed orange juice is everywhere.

    • Drinks are cheaper.
    • Set menus, especially if aimed at pilgrims, are pretty industrial-tasting.
    • Double beds are rare.
    • Everything happens late.

    Yellow arrows are much harder to spot than red and white flashes.

    • The idea of savoury things for breakfast is not strange.

    Dogs are much quieter.

    • They´ve heard of fruit smoothies and Oil of Olay. But not Orangina.
    • Even bars shut for vast hours of the afternoon.
    • Children stay up late. Very late. Usually playing and screaming outside our room.
    • Church clocks don´t stop chiming till midnight.
    • There´s yet another computer keyboard layout to learn.
    20th August 2008

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