I was sitting on the train to my first overnight excursion in Cordoba. The section I was in had two chairs facing two other chairs that were divided by a table. While I sat by the window, two other students who were in my program sat were in the section with me. Additionally, one local woman was on her way to Cordoba.
She was an older woman that stared persistently at me, so I could not ignore. I locked eyes with her, then she turned away. As I went back to glancing outside the window, she continued her starring at me. I am not sure if it was my dark skin or my long nails or even my twisted her that sparked her interest, but she could not look away from me.
I felt highly uncomfortable, for this was not a commonality back home. However, this was a common trait I immediately noticed in Spain. Having been here now for two weeks, I learned to just keep my head or confidently stare back, for I know I will constantly receive the views while I am here.
Another attribute I noticed in Spain was the people’s love for their dogs. Back home, walking the dog is considered a singular activity. A pet owner would walk their dog, then take their dog back home and proceed with the rest of their day.
However, the people of Spain are constantly paired with their dogs as if they are another child. Their dogs are with them in the grocery store, restaurants, shopping centers, etc. I think it is adorable because all the dogs I encountered were nice but not necessarily sanitary.
Knowingly, any price tag already includes the taxes, so the price shown is what has to be paid here. Therefore, the restaurant menu will list the exact price that will be received on the check. The tip is already included in workers wages, so there is no additional cost when buying a good or service.
Additionally, waiters will not do curtesy check-ins or see if a customer needs extra services. They will only acknowledge the customers in the beginning and end of a meal. The feel as though it would be a bother or interruption of the customer socializing.
Hence, it is a cultural tactic for shared meals to be more of a social event rather than a necessary setting for someone to get fully satisfied by a meal. They are accustomed to eating a light breakfast, a later heavy breakfast, then having tapas or little snacks throughout the day as they socialize, and ending the day with a really late dinner (around 9 or 10 p.m.). It was something I had to get used to, for at home I have one heavy breakfast, I usually skip lunch, and eat dinner before 8 p.m.
My least favorite part about Spain is the excessive walking. I suppose it is a European manner to walk everywhere, but to go from the south of the United States and driving everywhere, to walking to every location in Spain is quite a lot. By the end of the day my calf muscles are on fire from ascending up rocky hills, and my feet are sore from the numerous stairs I have to cross.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate the unintentional exercise these ways of living creates, and I do love seeing the beauty that lies on the other side of those hills.