One Country, Different Ways of Life
My normal Madrid life: I hear bus horns, metros screeching to a halt, taxis honking.
Without thinking about it, I have learned to have part of my brain “turned on” to be looking for ways to weave in and out of the ever-present crowds of people on the sidewalk. I’ve grown accustomed to these elements as a part of my life, but recently, I had a wakeup call that this isn’t what life is like for all Spaniards. (You might be thinking, “Well obviously Natalie, what a great deduction.”)
I arrived in Alicante, Spain, and the first thing that struck me was that there was only ONE train station. It was as straightforward as that – get off the train and walk straight.
We walked out into the street, and I had the feeling that the energy of the city was different; the people were walking slower and they weren’t playing the weaving game that everyone has to play on the sidewalks of Madrid, a comfortable stroll was the norm.
The following day, I woke up and went to the beach. Visiting Alicante for my Semana Santa, I fully expected to lay around and take in the roar of the ocean and the soft heat of the sun, but looking around, I realized that this was a daily activity for many of the people who live in Alicante. (Not in the winter maybe, but you get the idea.)
The thought that some people go to the beach on a weekly basis made me realize how people of the same country can be so different. Part of my mind has always assumed that people of countries that are geographically smaller than the United States would be more similar to each other than people in the U. S., but they really are just as varied.
I have perceived that the people in Alicante are more relaxed than in Madrid. The town has a smaller feel to it, and the quietness that comes with that sets a calm environment, which is the type of environment I had imagined applied to ALL of Spain.
This realization alone (aside from exploring islands, hiking to castles, and eating amazing ice cream) was another way for me to recognize that there are many things I am still assuming about culture and society, but I am learning to expand my perspective.
For your enjoyment, here is a photo of some amazing paella I ate on the island of Tabarca, just off the coast of Alicante:
This post was written on April 9, 2010.