The fact that I’ve been living in Spain, and I’m going to continue, makes this a hard blog to write. I normally try to block the negatives away. Hopefully but the end of writing this I don’t have itchy feet again. This post is as seen on the i-to-i TEFL blog.
Always a guiri – a foreigner
I’ve tried to blend in. I’ve grown my hair to look more Spanish, got used to eating late and leaving the house to go out at 10pm, and I’ve got married to a Spanish lady. Despite all that, I’ve realized I’ll always be a guiri.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be Spanish. I’d just like to stop getting treated like a tourist when I go about my own city. I still get short changed in places and now and then the waiter will slip an extra beer or two on my bill. This happens less now, in fact the other night a waiter forgot to charge us for two glasses of wine.
If you’re coming over then just be aware that even though Spanish are generally friendly, you’ll never be on their level.
(Photo by fred v)
I might just be getting old, but recently I’ve noticed how dirty Seville is. Spanish youths have a weekend hobby called a botellón – huge piss up in the street. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, the youngsters have enough stress in the week with exams and university pressures so they need to let off some steam, we all do. What I don’t understand is why they leave so much litter.
When I run by the river on Friday and Saturday morning, breathing in the stale booze stench, I feel sorry for the three or four council workers who have to clean up the empty bags of rubbish and smashed whisky and rum bottles. The police don’t enforce their power enough. Part of me thinks they just let them get on with it to create more cleaning jobs to help with unemployment. (Photo by olgaberrios)
It’s not only the youths who are adamant on wrecking this beautiful country. Walking down my street is like playing frogger, but instead of jumping on the logs to cross the river, I have to avoid the giant dog dollops.
Some Spanish think it’s alright to let their dogs mess all over the street and leave early morning surprises for everyone. I’m a dog owner and it’s not that difficult to clean up. My theory is this. With the current economic crisis we all need a bit of luck. Spanish say that it’s good luck to tread in dog poo with your left foot. Does more potential crap to slide in mean more luck? Or are they just lazy?
Deadly summer heat waves
“Come to Seville; we have 300 days of sunshine a year.” I’m guilty of saying this myself. The problem is that about 50 of those days are too scorching to do anything. Early mornings are pleasant, but only until about 10am. From 1pm to 7pm you can’t do anything outside your house.
Seville is like a ghost town towards the end of July and most of August. I quite like Seville when it’s quieter; less botellones and games of frogger, but the heat gets to you.
(Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video)
When anyone asks to visit me in August I put them off.
“You will die in the heat.”
At least one week in August it gets up to 50 degrees. After lunch your digestive system uses up all your energy and can’t cope with the heat so you’re forced to have a siesta. You have cold shower and are sweating before you’ve reached for your towel. You sleep naked but the mosquitoes always seem to find the juicy bits. As the years go by, I’m getting better in the sauna. I can put up with sweaty eyes at every meal and force myself to write through the siesta time, but the mosquitoes always seem to find a way to sting.
The word ‘Crisis’
At the weekends the bars and restaurants are full, people from the outside towns come to walk about the centre and raid the shops, and the metro is full of people every day.
So where is this giant crisis that everyone is talking about?
The thing with a recession is that unless you are out of work you don’t really feel the implications. Unemployment in Spain is at 23.5% (January 2012). That’s about 10 million people without a job. When I arrived in Spain in 2005 the general mood was optimistic and everyone was happy, now it’s somber and everyone is biting their nails about what will happen in the next few years. (Photo by RachelH)
You can’t go a couple of days without listening about the ‘crisis.’ I’ve banned talks about the economy with my adult students and have stopped watching the news. I know this is a worldwide recession, but it seems to me that in Spain no one is doing anything about it. The government has just changed, but all they are doing is making cut backs. Everyone moans about the future, but it’s like they’ve just accepted that the boat is about to sink.
Luckily the world of TEFL is still booming. We have more students than ever and have opened new centres recently. The crisis exists in Spain, but if you’re careful you can avoid it. Some restaurants have dropped their prices too.
So there you go, I survived. Yes I do hate things about Spain, but I’m willing to put up with those nasty aspects and just get on with my life teaching, writing, and living abroad with my wife and dog. If you’re thinking of coming to Spain then don’t let these comments sway you, find out for yourself. Maybe you have some more pet hates to add? Please share.