When you live in Spain or come to Spain you will soon find out that you have to adapt to a different culture. The shops open rather late in the morning and close between 14.00 and 17.00. And don’t be surprised if the kitchen of your favourite restaurant does not open till 13.30 for lunch or 19.30 in the evening for dinner.
La Herradura and Almuñécar have welcomed many foreigners who have turned southern Spain into their home. I am one of them, now married to a Spanish man, I am also here to stay. Although I am a great believer that we are all the same and equal, I also love the fact that we speak different languages and have different cultural habits. Some schools teach children from more than 20 different nationalities which shows how varied our community is.
I am Dutch born and have lived for many years with an English man and have now found my destiny with a wonderful Spanish man. So for me there were quite a few differences. In Holland shops open around 9.00 in the morning and close at 18.00, shops stay open all day and although opening hours have changed over the years as well, closing for siesta does not happen.
Another difference is socialising. Of course many who come to this area are either on a holiday, avoid the winter from Northern Europe, try to start a new life in the sun, or have chosen to spend their retirement here and socialising is big on the agenda. The abundance of sun, the outdoor seating areas of bars and restaurants and reasonable pricing of drinks and foods make for a pleasant adjustment to Spanish culture.
But is this Spanish culture? The Spanish do not necessarily have the custom to go out for a drink and a tapa on a daily basis. Their habits are slightly different. Although going out with friends for a few drinks and a tapa is certainly something you see in La Herradura and Almuñécar, the Spanish don’t tend to keep on drinking. Most Spanish drink alcohol with their meals and some, such as builders and those working on the land, even tend to have a glass of beer or wine with their breakfast. But drinking, just for the pleasure of drinking is less common.
In many northern cultures people do specifically go out to have ‘a drink’ and a drink usually means quite a few of drinks. In the Netherlands people tend to eat before they go out drinking and the drinking mostly takes place in the evening. In the UK, to my knowledge, people also mostly go out in the evening but many have the custom to eat after the drinking, for example having a curry before going home.
So the drinking culture is definitively different. For some this can also create problems as in Spain it is very easy to start drinking early in the day and doing this on a regular basis might shift the body into a state of having to drink on a daily basis. This can turn into a situation of isolation and keeping up appearances. However, most of us can just enjoy the pleasure of having a tapa with each drink, whilst putting the world to rights and staring over the blue Mediterranean Sea in La Herradura or Almuñécar and I say ‘Cheers’ to that. If we can respect and enjoy our differences we can all live together happily in this wonderful part of Spain.
Note: Those who have experienced the negative effects of too much alcohol consumption or those who are interested in reading some real-live experiences regarding this subject might want to check out my book. ‘Cheers’, in Spanish ‘A Tu Salud’. Available on Amazon. For more information about Cheers, click here.