13
Feb
09

A Children’s Treasury of Random Curios About Spain

And so it begins…random things I’ve noticed as an ex-pat. Might they be useful to people thinking of visiting Madrid? Possibly. Is this idea just the sort of self-indulgent idiocy for which blogs were originally purposed? Certainly! So, here we go:

1. The Spanish have an obsession with brushing their teeth around each meal. Really, the line at lunchtime around the sinks here on campus is amazing. And we’re not just talking a cursory brushing here; the tongue gets scrubbed, as well as each individual tooth. Sometimes floss is involved.

2. If you only learn one word to arm you on your travels through Spain, make it “Vale.” It means “cool/OK” and is constantly interspersed in conversation. Think of it like the Spanish “aloha”.Cause you're dying to know, yes?

3. People get irate when they have to pay €2 for a 2-liter bottle of beatifully green extra-virgin olive oil. As my coworker put it, “But the trees are right there!”

4. Haircut = mullet.

5. The idea that Spain is sunny is rubbish. As my director put it, the weather in Madrid is “Nueve meses de invierno y tres meses de infierno” (“9 months of winter and 3 months of hell”).

6. Commas are seemingly non-existent in written Spanish.

7. For a country that spawned the term “machismo” they very seldom evince it, at least the way we’ve come to know it in the States. More often than not, it connotes opening a door for someone.

8. While oranges are prevalent, you will not find the trademark Valencia or Seville varieties, since they’re all exported.

9. There is a totally different concept of age-appropriate dress here. The youngsters tend to sport the schlumpy jeans and HIGHLY unflattering denim-micro-minis-over-mid-calf-leggings, which is similar to the States. Older women, though, are almost universally in fishtail skirts, brightly-colored heels, patterned/fishnet tights, and tiny t-shirts. Put it this way: They dress like I do, but only when they’re 70+.

10. For the home of the Inquisition, there’s very little religious nonsense evident. There’s no obligatory blessing people when they sneeze (now a running joke in my office), and the Church has let most of its rules here go lax. Some examples: You don’t need to be a confirmed Catholic to get married in a church by a priest; first communion happens at 9, and confirmation (voluntary only) happens at 18; cursing is inherent to the language as it’s spoken here (really, my officemate beat our Mexican cohorts in a curseoff, hands down). Strangely enough, though, the rules they maintain are seriously old-school (baptized children get their name in a directory, and are tithed on all future earnings).

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