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Spanish Culture and News

US asks Spain for aid…

El Mundo reports that the USA has requested petroleum, food and medical equipment be sent from Spain to help in relief efforts in areas struck by Hurricane Katrina.

Wow, things must be a lot worse than I thought when the world’s no. one has to request help from a country that doesn’t even make it into the G8.

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Notes from Spain Podcast Spanish Culture and News

Podcast No. 12! The rain in Spain…


[Download MP3]

Show notes:

  • It doesn’t rain in Spain
  • Road deaths and lawless Spain
  • Drinking
  • National pride
  • Food and holidays
Categories
Spanish Culture and News

Yes – It’s a cultural thing…

In a comment on the post below, Matt says that the contrasting reactions of the Spanish to the March 2004 Madrid attacks (public, shared emotional outcry) and the British to the London 2005 attacks (stiff upper lip, we are not afraid, back to work quickly), “can be attributed to cultural differences”. I totally agree. The Spanish are an out-on-the-street, hide nothing nation who need to demonstrate their emotions in public – they mourn together, protest together, celebrate together… Have you ever seen a Spanish fiesta in full swing? No one is afraid to let everyone else know exactly how happy they are to have a roaring good time together on the streets of their town/city/village (with the exception perhaps of Madrid, where the main fiesta, San Isidro, is something of a disappointment.)

Now look at the British – yes they will protest on the street when absolutely necessary, but only one tenth of the number of times that the Spanish will in any given year – yes they will mourn or celebrate together, but we’ll put these things behind us more quickly – and when the nation is under attack, what happens? They defend themselves by getting back to work as quickly as possible. Nothing wrong with that. Just two age-old ways of dealing with the same problems.

Sometimes, as a Brit who has been in Spain for 7 years, I’m not sure which of these two ways I deal with these horrors anymore, I just sort of get on with work, emotionally…

Categories
Notes from Spain Podcast Spanish Culture and News

Podcast No. 7! Dying of heat in Madrid’s Retiro Park.


[Download MP3]

Show notes:

  • The Best of Spain
  • The beaches…
  • 1. Bolonia, Costa de la Luz – read about it here
  • 2. Andrin Beach in Asturias – photos in this article
  • 3. La Concha – San Sebastian – another article of mine here!
  • The Fiestas…
  • 1. The Feria de Malaga – the summer’s best fiesta
  • 2. Semana Grande in San Sebastian
  • 3. La Tomatina
  • The competition – see comments link below
  • My podcasting kit
Categories
Spanish Culture and News

If I were in charge for one day….

Sometimes it’s easy to shake your head at the way things work in Spain, to sit back and think, ‘If I were Prime Minister for a day I’d set this place right!’ -especially so when you grew up in a nanny state like the UK.

There are two things I would work on straight away. Firstly, I would make sure all women got paid the same amount as their male counterparts for doing the same job. I have never really counted myself amongst the feminists of this world, but there are some things which are just plain good manners, simple good sense. And in Spain women are still getting lower wages in the work place.

Secondly:

I would pour money into road safety and the persecution of crazy, law-breaking motorists. Today’s bus crash on the A4 outside Madrid could have been a lot worse, only one death, two ‘muy grave’, and eleven more injuries. But the fact is that last year over 4,000 people were killed on the roads in Spain. The main causes for these deaths were drink driving, lack of seat belt, driving too close to the car in front, and speeding. Why does this happen? Lack of enforcement by the police. The reason there are far fewer deaths in the UK is that people drive more carefully, and tend not to drink and drive – why? Because they know that if they disobey the laws of the road they are likely to be caught, and that the penalties will be stiff. That just isn’t the case in Spain.

That is where I would start if I were in charge for a day. O.K. end of rant.

Categories
Spanish Culture and News

Do you know what this is?

Plastic greenhouses in Almeria. For more shocking environmental comparison pics, check out this piece from elmundo.es.

It feels like Madrid is under an enormous greenhouse at the moment – up to 36º today according to a bus stop thermometer… I think I’m getting obsessed with the weather…

Categories
Spanish Culture and News

Eurosceptics?


This man certainly has something to say about the European constitution.. though I’m still not sure quite what he was implying… He was wandering around the book fair in the Retiro park. It seems he’s not the only one to have been unsettled by the recent results from Holland and France. Italy’s Labour Minister wants to ditch the Euro and return to the Lira!

Meanwhile, it really was a pretty nice evening for a walk…

Rowing in the Retiro

…and later, we somehow ended up at the terraza around the corner where I also ate yesterday, though it was a lot quiter this evening. I have a feeling we will be spending quite a bit of time there this summer.

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Spanish Culture and News

A quiet drink on a terraza

Well, it was a quiet drink until a Romanian lady with a portable amp. came along and started singing. There was no food in the house so I went and sat at a table at a bar around the corner for a cool bottle of mahou and some pan tomaca. It’s Hotting up now, 28 degrees at 22.30…

I feel like I should have intelligent things to say about the French and the Dutch saying ‘no’ to the European constitution, but I don’t, so I’m going to point you to these comments on Adam Curry’s weblog instead.

Categories
Spanish Culture and News

Another bomb in Madrid….

‘I do wish bombs would stop going off near me in Madrid’ – was probably the wrong text message to send to my wife, at least that’s what she told me when my mobile rand 20 seconds later. But it’s true. We were 200 m away from Atotcha station when the bombs went off there on March 11th last year, blowing apart train carriages and many of the people inside them. I recognise the sound of a bomb now, a booming iron thud, quite different from any of the other booms one hears in Madrid (like the sound of an empty skip dropped on tarmac).

What I really wish is that bombs would stop going off anywhere, near me or not. It is all quite unfathomable. I wonder what ETA hoped to achieve with this? Perhaps El Mundo can explain it to me later on. More on this later in a podcast…

Categories
Spanish Culture and News

First Communion

Retiro park

… in the Retiro Park…