An Ode to Spain
Greetings! ¡Saludos! 🙂
OK this is not really an ode; I haven’t written poetry in years. But some of you know that I’ve moved back to South Africa for… well, indefinitely. Who knows what 2017 is bringing but it’s going to be one big adventure! However, I digress. So I’ve come back home for personal reasons and I’ve been here for just over a month, and man oh man, am I missing the Spanish lifestyle.
For those of you that haven’t lived in sunny Spain, here’s a glimpse of what it’s like. At least how it was for me and my friends in the relatively unknown gem of a city, Murcia. I lived in the south east of the country, in this tiny little countryside town/city that nobody goes to 🙂 well, except the tourists like the Brits and Germans and even that’s just along the coast, usually. Anyway, so that was home for just over 3 years and let me tell you, my friend, Spain is paradise.
Typical Spanish Breakfast
Never in my life did I think, that simple bread and tomato could taste so good. This normally includes a cafe con leche (coffee with milk), zumo de naranja (orange juice) and tostada con tomate (tomato with toasted baguette bread). Now it sounds plain but it’s oh-so-wonderful on the tastebuds. The olive oil and salt that add to it just gives it this burst of wholesome flavour. This became my staple breakfast to-go and it’s probably one of the top things that I’m going to miss. Or even just the standard coffee which was, always and exactly, 1.20 €
Guys, you can literally just live off tapas. Socialising is a big part of the Spanish lifestyle, which then obviously includes alcohol and food (because who doesn’t want to snack and chat??). Tapas at lunch time, at dinner time, basically any time, and you’re ready, set, go! to nibble. You’ve got hot, you’ve got cold, you’ve got your favourites and ones that you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to concentrate on eating; you’re just enjoying yourself as you go along, making conversation and eating bite-sized deliciousness. This, to me, is good adulting; never overindulging, drinking a light alcoholic beverage (like beer or tinto de verano – “summerwine”) and actually talking to people about interesting stuff (or just gossiping. Whatever, no judgement here)
Spanish food in general though is extremely tasty and quite cheap, so it doesn’t matter what you go for, really 🙂 You’ll be happy with whatever you order. The rice dishes though, like paella, OMG to die for.
Siesta and Working Hours
Ah, siesta, you’ve ruined me 🙂 Nothing beats a national nap time. All businesses close for siesta; be it your local dentist or a law firm. For 2 or 3 hours during lunch time, you can go home and chill, or sleep. Not everybody does this, but it’s a good excuse to go have lunch with your family and then doze on the couch, especially in the summer (Murcia goes well up into the 40s where it’s so hot your feet sweat (sexayyy). This makes all eating hours later than other countries. Dinner, for example, occurs at about 9-10 o clock.
Oh, and FYI, the whole “mañana” thing (do tomorrow what you don’t have to do today) – yeah it’s legit. People are never on time and don’t expect them to be. One of the first things I had to learn; everyone is late and service is always tardy; including the post. “Okay we should be at your house sometime today between 9 in the morning and 7 in the evening.” Yeah thanks Mr Postman Paco! Thanks for nothing.
Ah Spain, what would you be like if you didn’t have a billion parties to attend to throughout the year? Fiesta is the soul of this country. You have your annual spring festivals in your regional towns (like Bando de la Huerta in Murcia), to the summer fairs and city-specific celebrations like Las Fallas in Valencia. Music festivals pop up all over the show; Murcia has the SOS festival every springtime which hosts stages with indie music, poprock and electronic, mostly Spanish but also some international bands too!
…Did I tell you about that one time I went to SOS and nearly broke my nose because I walked straight into a tree? As you can guess I was chatting up a ridiculously good-looking Spanish guy and obviously, I was drunk but I was also marching through a crowd and not looking straight ahead of me aaaand BAM! Yes, there was a lot of blood. No, I didn’t get his number.
If parties are the soul of Spain, then music must be its bloodstream – its life-force. From Reggaeton to Flamenco, music is always pumping. I lived above a recreational centre for the elderly and every Sunday at 5pm, I could hear the elderly couples dancing to salsa. It just wasn’t a Sunday afternoon if I couldn’t hear their songs through my window 🙂 Rhythm flows through the Spanish like its a vital and integral part of who they are, and it so obviously is! Dancing in a club or listening to locals busking on the sidewalk, you can’t help but feel more alive when your body feels the beat.
There are many types of travellers: those that want to party and experience the nightlife, those that want to go sightseeing and experience the culture, foodies who follow where the cuisine is, adrenaline junkies that pursue the extreme sports options… Whoever and whatever you are, Spain has something for you, but if you love photography and want to capture the lines and history of a place; my friend, go to Spain and just immerse yourself. Go to every city and be in awe.
I come from Johannesburg, an urban jungle if you will; more jungle and industrial urban if I may say – a city that is young and expansive with little architectural beauty. Don’t get me wrong, we have other types of beauty but old gorgeous buildings is not particularly one of them. When I moved to Spain, there were so many quiet, personal moments of just taking in the surroundings and being present in the moment. Beauty does that to you sometimes.
Talking About Murcia
When you talk about this place, most Spaniards are like: uh, why there of all places?! But let me tell you that this little city is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, and I’ve travelled to a few. You know when you meet a whole bunch of new people, your eye always goes to the loudest or the most good-looking, but after a while you realise that they’re cool and what-not but they don’t hold your interest long, so your attention wanders to the rest of the crowd and you start chatting to the others and realise, wow! This other person is so shy and quiet yet super interesting to talk to and sometimes doesn’t need to chat just to enjoy their company. That’s Murcia, my friends; quiet but compelling with not a lot going on but perfect to just chill, hang out and appreciate life.
Lots of folks have been asking if I’d go back to Spain and Murcia, and of course I would but right now there are other paths on the horizon and you can only follow one at a time. If you haven’t visited this country, please go and see how amazing it is for yourself 🙂
Adios amigos. ¡Hasta luego!