Today, without the dictator Franco in the picture, the people of Spain live well, are happy, and socialize as often as they can. Even with strangers. Last night, I went for walk with my Spanish friend Mamen and we stopped upon seeing two cute puppies. In truth, the man we approached looked a bit scary to me. Thus, while I normally would stare at the cuties and keep on my way, Mamen talked with the stranger and played with the dogs like it was her business. She stood there chatting for more than half an hour. (The frequency of how often Spaniards move their mouths is one explanation for how they stay in such great shape). While I should have been surprised at the event, I remembered from living in Granada that this is just the Spanish way.
Other differences between American and Spanish culture can be felt in the behavioral approaches of the locals co-existing among the neighborhood playgrounds, town plazas, and wide streets. In a previous blog, I wrote about how it is common for parents and adults to take their children everywhere with them. Well, this is especially true in Andulicia. In the South, where the climate is hotter and the topography more dessert-like and beachy then in my previous writings of Northern Spain, the attitude of Spaniards towards the importance of relationships remains the same. In Spain, people work to live, not live to work and this shows in the extra care they take in remaining connected to their neighbors and family unit.
Also, in Spain, it is typical to wake up and breakfast anywhere from 8 to 11, lunch from 1:30-4 and have dinner at 9:30 or later. For example, in the past two nights, I have not ate my third meal of the day before 10:30, yet here this is completely normal.
There is more to the philosophy of this schedule than meets the eye. To understand why Spanish people keep this schedule means that you understand their way of life. Take Mamen for instance. Even though she must get up at seven a.m for work everyday, she rarely goes to bed earlier than twelve thirty. In America, this is less heard of but Spaniards prefer to spend more time with their family, talking on the phone, and enjoying the day (or night).
Her explanation for the schedule of the Spanish meal:
“We eat here later because we stay up much later, and if you eat at six or seven, what will you do after? In Spain we don’t go to bed until late, so if we ate like in other parts of the world, we would probably get hungry for two dinners. And I don’t think my jeans would like that,” she jokes. Spainards have a great sense of humor. “Plus, Spanish people don’t need as much sleep”.
Personally, I would have a difficult time adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle because according to Mamen, many Spainards average five hours of sleep a night.
Luckily, there still exists the Spanish siesta. The Siesta is a one to three hour nap where people come home from work and rest in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, this tradition is being practiced less because the Spanish lifestyle has had to adapt more to the working life. Nevertheless, when the weekend arrives, you can be sure people take advantage of napping. This is especially true during the times of the year when it gets much hotter in Spain.