To enjoy your life in Spain you need to start thinking like a Spaniard and get rid of any ideas that you might have of changing the way they live.
When I first moved to Spain I had a long list of things that annoyed me. Number one on my list was that it took forever to get the simplest task accomplished once a Spaniard was involved in the process.
Secondly, going into a restaurant at lunchtime only to be told they were not open. The simple fact is Spaniards to a man all eat lunch at 2 pm, the start of the afternoon siesta. Even fast food restaurants such as Burger King, which by the way opens at noon (possibly a rule forced on them by their American owners) will be empty until two o’clock when suddenly all of Spain decides it’s time for lunch.
The same thing goes for dinner with a Spaniard not even dreaming about food until after 9 pm at night. Also, when it comes to eating out get rid of any notion you might have of Spanish food being spicy or “Caliente” as they call it here.
You see the Spanish may have conquered Mexico, but never brought the fiery hot spices back to Spain.
This lack of chilli in dishes has also made its way into Chinese and Indian restaurants all turning down the heat so as to adapt to Spanish taste buds.
In fact, I have ordered a Szechuan dish in a Chinese restaurant telling the waiter to make it spicy only to have him question me if he heard me correctly and was I sure I wanted more chillies in the dish.
My third hate has to do with bureaucracy and how frustrating it can be when dealing with government departments. Once more not only do we go back to the fact no one is in a hurry, but the paperwork involved equates to cutting down a small forest as you often need three copies of everything.
Just about anywhere else in the world you can handle the work yourself once you get a grip on how the system operates, but Spain I am afraid is a different kettle of fish.
Things are in fact so complicated that you have people (Gestors) that make it their job to do all the legwork for you at a price. All I can tell any person reading this who is thinking of moving to Spain is “just pay the money”!
No matter how hard you might try there is no way you can get the Spanish to change their ways so the sooner you learn to slow down and adapt to their customs the happier you will be.
In case you did not know it, July has been designated plastic awareness month to highlight the amount of none bio-degradable waste that is filling our landfills and floating around our oceans.
Going completely plastic free (finding alternatives to everything) for a day, week, month or more can be a bit of a challenge yet, just 50 years ago we relied on glass, cloth and paper to get our goods home from the market.
Drinks came in bottles, while meat and fish were wrapped in paper before being taken home in a reusable bag made from cotton. All of these items could be recycled and in the case of the shopping bag used over and over again.
Spain recently passed a law that requires all supermarkets and shops to charge for plastic bags, even telling pharmacies that they must charge for the little bags they used to put your prescriptions in.
This new law has now got supermarkets such as Lidl vowing to stop selling plastic bags by the end of the year, opting to offer a bag made of fibres from the raffia palm tree.
Single-use plastic water bottles are one of the biggest problems due to the fact they are discarded once the water has been drunk. It also takes three times the amount of water in the bottle to produce it. A great alternative already available is to use paper products like the ones we often buy milk and fruit juices in.