First Impressions

First Impressions - July 23rd

We arrived in Spain 2 weeks ago. In that time, we’ve taken care of a lot of “business”. We found an apartment and signed contracts, dealt with phones, visas, residency, utilities, school registration, apartment furnishing, and summer camps. We’ve been “getting a lot done” (actually, more like 1/2 done as everything seems to happen in stages so that completing any task involves a giant flow chart with no certainty that you will ever arrive at the end).

Getting a lot done in Spain however, feels very different than getting a lot done at home. Which leads me to a few initial observations.

 

1. No one seems to be in a rush here. If you find yourself passing everyone on the sidewalk, it’s an indication that it’s time to slow down. I don’t see people doing 2 to 5 things at once in order to save time, i.e. fishing something out of their bag while walking in order to be prepared for something that isn't happening yet, or eating a slice of pizza while walking down the street because there’s not enough time to stop for lunch (obvious personal admissions here). They seem to just do one thing at a time.

2. Nothing happens during siesta. Between the hours of 2 and 5:30, businesscomes to a close. Banks and government buildings shut down for the day and shops close except for a few restaurants where people who haven’t gone home, enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends. “Business” takes a pause and “getting things done” comes to a halt. How's enforced rest for a cultural norm? Imagine an entire cultural system built around resting and spending quality time with your family in the middle of the day!


3. Most people selectively drive or don’t drive at all. When looking for an apartment, every apartment agent walked us to the apartment. They didn’t rush to cram in as many showings as possible in a day. They just led the way, up or down the street, regardless of the temperature or distance. No one asked if we’d prefer to drive.


4. I rarely see people on their phones. In social settings like parks and cafes, there are no phones out. Not on tables and not in hands. People don’t text and walk. They don’t wear ear buds while walking and they don’t use phones in the presence of others. Even when riding the bus alone, people often choose to look out the window. The constant pauses in conversation to google a question or answer a text, just don’t seem to happen here.

 

Of course, I’m generalizing. These are observations that I’ve made through my own unique lens - one which was poised to see things in a particular way. If you read my last blog, A Year In Spain, you know that I’ve come looking for support in finding more presence and spaciousness, so I’m sure I’m projecting some of that onto Spanish culture. Projection or not, it’s working!

  • We haven’t been in a car since our taxi dropped the 4 of us and our 8 bags and 4 backpacks off at our Air B&B July 8th. 
  • I walk with my phone on airplane mode and I check messages/email once a day. 
  • During siesta, I sleep, write, read, eat, walk or play and I don’t “get things done”. 
  • I resist the urge to “google it" while sharing a meal with my family.
  • I walk and walk and walk. 
  • I’m attempting to walk slower, do one thing at a time, and pay attention to just that one thing. It’s all a work in progress and I’m so grateful to be living in a place that supports the work!

I plan to keep in touch throughout the year and I hope you will too. I’d love to hear what you are up to.

Sending much love from Cuenca! 

Rachel Posner