The Walk of Shame

In English there is an expression: “The walk of shame”, which would be something like, “El paseo de la verguenza” in Spanish.

The walk of shame is the journey back to your house after staying over at someone’s house… unexpectedly.

The morning after, you return on the same bus as the workers going to work, or the students going to university…

If you are a girl you are still in your high heels, skirt and smudged make-up from the night before. If you are a guy your shirt is hanging out, your trousers are half undone… You look like a mess.

And it’s obvious to everyone on the bus or in the street what you’ve probably done. SHAME on you!

You want to sneak back to your house unnoticed, but suddenly you see your old teacher, your boss, your arch-enemy or your loud, talkative uncle.

During the walk of shame you feel the lowest of the low. But to everyone else it’s hilarious!

And Sevilla this week is full of walkers of shame! 😀

This morning at the bus stop, girls and women in beautiful flamenco dresses stumbled over the road, while boys and men in messy suits hobbled along like drunken old men.

Yet the difference is, there’s nothing shameful about being an all-night “Feria-goer”. The Feria only lasts a week… the walkers of shame are the hardcore ones who really make the most of  it!

In England, with our early everything (lunch, dinner, closing-times), let’s face it – we just ‘ain’t’ capable of regular all-nighters… Shame on us! 😛

Advertisements

Don’ts and Dos for a ‘guiri’ (foreigner) in the Feria de Sevilla

DON’T…

  • Wear chanclas (flip-flops). You will come back with black feet, or maybe even directly tread on some horse poo.
  • Try to dance a Sevillana (the typical flamenco dance of the feria) when you’ve no idea, just because you’ve had a few rebujitos (manzanilla wine with lemonade)…
  • Go if you don’t know anyone who has a caseta (marquee-type-thing). All the decent ones are private!
  • Spend too much time in la calle del infierno. It’s called the hell street for a reason.
  • Wear a mini-skirt if you are going to go on the rides. Or if you do, at least don’t wear your Hello Kitty pants that day…
  • Be deceived by the small size of the rebujito glass. You might be used to pints, but I can assure you no tiene nada que ver – it’s stronger than beer!
  • Buy a toffee apple. Just don’t do it. It’s stickier than you think! After that first bite your teeth will never be the same again.
  • Expect to bop up and down to Lady Gaga. You’ll be lucky to get a flamenco version of the Macarena! This is the Feria, miarma! ¡Olé!

DO…

  • Say you “conoce a Pepe” (know Pepe) to get into any private caseta. There’s always a Pepe! 😉
  • Wear a suit if you’re a man and a traje de flamenco if you’re a woman. That way you won’t stand out so much… or you will be the “guiri gracioso/a” of the group.
  • Learn to dance Sevillanas before the Feria. It’s hot when a guiri knows how to dance, and cute if you have a dignified go at it…
  • Mira al de al lado (copy the person next to you) if you haven’t learn the moves but you really, really want to join in!
  • Remember, to move those arms as a true gitana (gypsy): “Take the apple, eat the apple and throw it away”…
  • If you know enough Pepes, change caseta from time to time. It’s a great excuse to catch up with friends, to meet people and to divertirte in a random kind of way! 😀
  • Eat Jamón and Tortilla, and drink rebujito! ¡Claro que sí!

7 Things you might do in Spain but not in UK

1)       Have lunch at 3pm and not be ‘active’ again until 5pm.

Lunch is to be enjoyed and savored in Spain. The afternoon starts later, while the sacred ‘hora de comer’ is for eating, talking and when necessary, siesta’ing.

2)      Give two besos (kisses) on the cheek to strangers.

In the UK it’s the good old handshake, a smile-nod-hello, or at most, a kiss on one cheek.

3)      Hear the word primo (cousin) used a lot.

In the UK we’re not generally as close to our cousins as to our siblings…

4)      Ask the age of someone when they tell you it’s their birthday…

Even if you don’t know them very well. In the UK that’s being impolite – in Spain it’s being direct and it’s totally normal.

5)      Have dinner out at 10.30pm or later.

Most UK kitchen staff are on their way to their after-work drink by that time.

6)      See toddlers out at midnight.

In some parts of Spain it gets so unbearably hot in the summer, that toddlers must sleep the siesta and be kept inside until late.

7)      Call your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents the suegros (in-laws).

In the UK we wait to get married before taking on extra parents…

Spain’s Fleeing Talent

Yesterday we held a despedida for one of our friends. He’s off to work in Toulouse. In a group of around fifteen friends he is the fourth to leave (the others are in France and Germany). The rest are looking abroad.

They cannot find work here in Spain. Or at least, not in Andalucía. Once the others started looking en el extranjero, the interviews came flooding in.

What should Spain do about the fleeing of its young talent?

Well, try to benefit from it in the long term.

Traditionally, many people in Andalucía have not needed or had the chance to travel. This is now changing, and the youths of today are being “forced” to grab opportunities that their parents never even dreamed of.

Yet, only a small percentage of those who leave will stay away.

The quality of life – sun, good food and a strong vida familiar – attract the Spanish to return.

If and when they do, they’ll bring their experience, skills and new perspectives to the Spanish job market… and to the next generation.

An interesting suggestion is made by the magazine Emprendedores. In Ireland, incentives are being offered to those who attract investment to Ireland from abroad. What if Spain did the same?

I hope my friends will be back at some point. I also believe that many of those ‘cerebros en fuga’ can and will contribute to Spain’s recovery in the long term.

This is England… Gibraltar, mate!

Apart from some nasty blocks of flats, it wasn’t as run-down as I expected. But the whole experience was rather odd. England in the heart of Southern Spain…

Gibraltar

We queued for an hour to get in, and a human-sized monkey greeted us at the entrance. It felt strangely Disney.

Once inside, our phones welcomed us to the Reino Unido, and there he was – an English Bobby Policeman.

Bobby Policeman

We found ourselves in a plaza that smelt of England; a mixture of fish and chips, beer and pub food.

Plaza Gibraltar

We ate in a pub that was too auténtico to be your typical pub irlandés in Spain. With Strongbow on tap, Pimm’s and Lamb Shank, this was not Spain. Only the surrounding sun, sea and big ‘rock’ reminded me where we were geographically…

Gibraltar is its own world. You can pay in pounds or euros, and it’s tax free. Cars and aeroplanes share the same runway (no a la vez, eh!). Smoking is allowed in bars. You hear posh English accents, thick Andaluz and: “¿Qué pasa cabrón? Where the bloody hell have you been?”

And if you get bored, you can go and see monkeys that steal.

Monkey

But whatever you do, don’t miss out on this…

Queen Gibraltar

…The place may be raro, but then the English (we) are very raros at times… No doubt about it – we were clearly in England.

Happy Easter!!! 🙂

Semana Santa Sevilla… Seeing is Believing

Imagine this. The streets are full of people. The men and boys are in suits, the women and girls in pretty dresses. Couples of all ages, families and groups of friends are everywhere. Figures who chillingly resemble the KKK are walking past you…

The crowds thicken until you can no longer move. You hear drums, trumpets, processions; everything is a blur. Suddenly, a large, moving, gold object emerges from nowhere; it holds a statue of Jesus carrying the cross. People gaze up in awe and begin to cry; they have been waiting for this….

To an outsider, Semana Santa can seem absurd. The mixture of the ‘party’ atmosphere with the overt devotion to moving gold statues is… uncomfortable.

Yet, I respect the tradition, I do. Like other customs, it marks identity and unites families. It also brings routine and normality to a year. The sevillanos rehearse for Semana Santa and look forward to it, long in advance.

You have to see it to really believe it. But no, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Sevilla in Semana Santa. Not unless you are open-minded, empathetic and…a real fan of huge crowds!