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Meaning of the country side for urban people in Spain August 20, 2012

Posted by espainisdifferent in Culture, Society and Media.

The morning of the day I am writing this article, I took part in a conversation about people in cities going to the country side, which included some Spaniards and expats in my office. Dani, a Brazilian colleague, was struck by the custom of his Spanish fellow colleagues of going to the country side, to their respective villages very often. When I say that everybody goes to their village I am not meaning that everyone is from a village but that everyone has his/her village. Most of the staff in my office come from cities but almost each family from every one of them has a house in the pueblo (village). This fact has been pinpointed not only for this colleague. Another time, when I was studying my degree in Valladolid, a French guy made exactly the same highlights. Apparently everyone he knew had his/her village.

It is true that the idea of family in Spain is broader than in other parts in Europe. In the village families gather again (cousins, uncles, grandfathers, etc.), people visit their old friends from their childhood and children go to play with their friends from the village freely. Being a city boy or girl going to the village means to discover odors, experiences, having adventures, new friendships, a different way of life. You are in the streets playing till late, coming back even at 12 or 1 am having fun and exciting adventures without having your parents watching you… the paradise. They go to the river to fish and collect crab, run with their bikes like crazy, go to the wood and have adventures in the country. Children in cities are counting the days to go to the pueblo. They will get memories that will go with them all their lives.

Teenagers run gather together till late, have the chance to have their first approaches to the other sex and some of them start to smoke furtively. There is freedom there! Their great moment is las fiestas (the village festival in honour of some saint or virgin) in summer. They are allowed to go wild, parents are lax with issues of alcohol, they have even more chances with the opposite sex as there are peñas (ad hoc places such as a patio with a hut or a garage where they gather and have an arsenal of drinks) where girls and boys alike can intimate and where they can invite to friends and relatives to have a drink. Where there are encierros (bull running) male youngsters seeking the excitement of running in front of a bull of 400-500 kilos .

For what I saw men and women play certain roles. Women cook and go out in the evening to sit by other neighbour door or by their own (so they can talk about their favorite topics, namely gossip, talk about their sons and how nicely they´re doing or lately, the biggest hit regarding topics to chat, la crisis, the fucking endless crisis), play cards with other women, or to have a stroll with other friends or the husband. Men work in the house of the family fixing or improving the property, go to “alternar”, this is going to the bars to drink or have tapas, meet people, talk with friends or people you know, to buy drinks to others or the other way round. The main topics are football, football, la crisis, the new car of some neighbor, las fiestas, the butt or boobs of some woman around and how they would screw her and so on, hangovers if there were any and the last feat the last night out.

Living abroad something which came to my attention is that in villages like mine children go out with their parents till relatively late (12 or 1 am). They play around with children from other couples. It is not widespread but not uncommon either. Spain has a culture where being out is an important part in the life of a Spaniard. This is a good example.

I am from a village myself and I must say that going back to my origins is always revitalizing. Everybody knows you and there is a feeling of belonging that I haven’t had anywhere else. In my village I have my roots, and no matter if one day I become prime minister I will always be the son of the butcher. I guess that most of the people look for something and this is why villages in Spain are what they are.


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