I have been in Spain for exactly a week now; the passage of time sure is rapid when having fun.
If I could use a single word to define my time here in Spain, it would be “relaxed.” The people are much more relaxed in comparison to my fellow Americans, though that does have its pros and cons. Here, it is common to partake in a siesta — a period anywhere from one hour to two hours where people relax and/or nap after eating lunch. Being able to dedicate a specific time for family relaxation is a blessing that not many countries have.
However, as a result of the siesta, almost no one is available in the city, which means that many stores and restaurants are suddenly closed for two hours in the middle of the day. This is the equivalent to offices in the U.S.A. closing completely for the lunch hour! (which is a nice thought). Moreover, seldom any stores are open on Saturday; nothing is open on Sundays, for the weekend is another time for relaxing with friends and family. One partial exception is The Plaza Mayor, the central square of Cáceres’ castle city.
I normally do not take pictures of myself, but my host mother insisted on doing so. But that’s another thing — the Spanish are very friendly, perhaps a bit quirky (for reasons explored below), but friendly nonetheless.
Culture shock hour:
Here are some culture shock notes that I observed during the first week.
- The Spanish walk a lot. Spain is not a very big country, so many of its cities are condensed and the use of cars is mostly for travelling to other cities. Though, what I found curious is that walkers tend to walk faster than college students late to class. I still cannot fathom why this is the case, but it is very typical for someone here in Cáceres to cross the street when the crosswalk light is still red. I am enjoying observing speed-walkers (my name for them) bob-and-weave through those walking at a normal pace — almost as if they are driving a car!
- Personal space — or the personal bubble as it is referred to in America — is smaller in Spain. Don’t be surprised if people are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you at a grocery store, and pay attention, or else they might cut in front of you in a line if you leave too much space between the person in front of you.
- Embracing is common, even among two men. People like to hug here. A lot. Though, mostly when exchanging greetings and farewells.
What’s next on the agenda?
Next week, I begin my excursions to two smaller cities in the Extremadura region. The city of Guadalupe (a name that should sound familiar to those who practice Catholicism) is an attestment to Spain’s religious history, for it holds one of Spain’s first churches for the Lady of Guadalupe of Spain. Afterward, I will head to a small town called Trujillo. It seems to be another castle town, however, I have not conducted much prior research. I like to experience some things in the moment.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, friends. Chao!