I moved to Andalucía about 7 years ago.
One thing is to touch down, another thing is to understand how it rolls. If one can’t understand how it rolls, it’s time to Saddle up the Donkey and head on back to where one comes from, and many do.
If one can’t get into the pulse of small-town Andalucía, then it isn’t for you. You can fight it – but that is a losing battle.
You can try, emphasis on try, but don’t be too eager – they see through that. You will have to embrace the lifestyle in a natural rhythm and the Spanish you interact with will let you know when they accept you. I think that goes for many cultures and the Andalusian edition of that is often different, but very healthy, since it also takes Self – Importance down.
Another term for that could be Feeling Entitled, which seems to be the driving force of many Brits and Swedes. Their narrative being: These ‘Andaloosers’, should really be grateful for our presence or else they would spiral into poverty. We come with all this money we spend here.
They don’t know that the Andalusians really rather would have them gone if they meet that attitude. Western European entitlement makes them as cold as ice.
Andalucía is not a third world country in need of NGOs boozing up all day. The Brits and Swedish perception is Booze, which is very cheap, and sunshine = the secret of life.
A glass of wine on a sunny day or warm evening with their kids playing around is the natural pulse here.
Coming from stress-induced Northern Europe, the Andalusian pulse got to me. It was slow and, in the beginning, I saw it as rude.
I was ‘hurry up’ programmed with everything that should happen has to happen now and there were certain rules to be followed. Well, it was my programming and not the Andalusian programming.
Ordering an internet connection was the first experience.
I ordered it and it would be set up within 3 days. In Northern Europe, that could easily take a week or more, so 3 days, that was fast. On the third day, I remember the clock—the clock, I was living by the clock—and it said after 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and my conditioning led me to think that it wasn’t being set up. I phoned the company and the technician said,
“We are hardly working on it!” That sort of didn’t help.
What he meant was: We are working as hard as we can, so it was his English skills, and when he came at nine in the evening, it was up and running smoothly.
Same with plumbers and electricians and what have we. If they say they’ll come – they come.
There is this bias that the Spanish are lazy.
That has been proven to be a lie. Surveys show that the Spanish are more efficient than the Germans, which are known for their efficiency.
So a laid-back lifestyle doesn’t equal not being efficient.
It equals; Things will get done in a chilled manner.
Stress management on a whole new level:
I prefer to do my shopping for fruits and veggies in the little shops who have local produce. Not that many have organic, but they have what is not streamlined fruits and veggies.
One of the weirdest things ever to come out of the European Parliament – the EU – was a decree as to how much a cucumber was allowed to bend in order to hit the shelves. They all have to look alike.
In these smaller shops, they can look like they want and somebody will feel great joy in Cucumber diversity or any other vegetable or fruit.
Standing in line for the first couple of months being here was a bit of a challenge, since I thought I was too busy for that and the narrative was: Expedite as many as you can and keep the waiting time down.
Right narrative: Wait in line and be okay with it.
The ladies behind the counter would, of course, serve the line, which in the summertime with all the tourists can get a bit long. But she would also engage in long conversations with the people she knew. She would get an update on their lives and an update on the latest gossip in broader terms, and the line of foreigners went: Jesus, Oh My God, How rude.
And as said, it bothered me until I remembered the Tao principle of taking down self-importance: You can wait – it’s good for your Ego. And indeed, it was. And it was outside of my stress zone already to let such incidents hijack my state of mind.
I was clearly up against a programming that I could choose to maintain and nourish or I could drop it to the floor. I chose the latter. I surrendered to something I couldn’t change anyway, and that seems to be a good strategy often in what we refer to as the minor things.
There obviously are things that we shouldn’t apply this to.
Here it was more: Live and let live.
My understanding of this morphed into:
These ladies had a long working day, and in the summertime, when it was packed with an unmerciful heat, they have aircon, but with open doors due to the influx of customers, it would be exhausting IF they didn’t take it at their own pace. I felt a bit slow in the uptake realizing that.
Standing on your own two legs through the whole shift all week.
The natural stress remedy:
“I am the boss of this counter and I will not be pushed and stressed out for the next 10 hours.” Brilliant!
The longer the line there is in our lives, and the more daily chores and tasks we have, there’s the tendency to let it push us into stress.
We need to learn that it is NOT the line that pushes us. It is what others might think.
If we flip that narrative into: I am not allowing this to transport me into a more or less permanent toxic state of stress, by realizing we are where the buck stops. We decide the pace of things, which again is basically “expectation adjustment and expectation alignment,” and when we can leave the expectation pressure that others and we push ourselves into, then we realize that: Being busy or having a long day ahead of us is not the same as having a stressful day. Entertainments zones needs to be incorporated, Social zones, taking a walk zone, listening to music zone, or whatever is within our range of possibilities.
At a lot of places you can’t do that. You are under the spell of the yoke. And the fallout is substance abuse, alcohol, benzodiazepine, and such.
In this self-preserving energy within the Andalusian soul: Everybody will get served eventually, and they actually are in the top 5 of life expectancy.
So, they take time to talk, have a sip of water, and also talk to their colleagues or do whatever could ease their work.
Working at the cash register is often seen down upon. Poor pay, and it is so, and if you can’t work with anything else due to a lack of education and such, it’s a job job, sort of like flipping burgers at McDonald’s. That is the narrative – but not my perspective.
I invented a strategy.
The fine ladies have nametags, as they probably have at your local supermarket. Notice it and remember their names. See them as a person. Specialness is a state of mind that is toxic.
I started approaching the fine ladies with their name when it was my turn saying, “Hello, Monica – warm day, think?” The Spanish love, as any man does, to talk about the weather. Or, “Hi, Sandra – long day, ei?” And Sandra would go, “Madre Mia, Si Si.” That was only the foreplay to recognition of being a fellow human and not a mindless, lifeless supermarket robot.
I expanded it into, “How are the kids and when do you have some time off?” and, “How are things?”
The supermarket I live nearest to is between a building block and a parallel street that provides a shortcut to the sea where I love to walk. So, I often just go in from one street and out to the other street. The ladies always go, “Hola, Soren, Getal?” (“Hey, Soren, how’s things?) and I bow to them and answer: “Muy Bueno, Senoras,” and they giggle.
At some point, I think I was the topic of some breakfast break, since they suddenly, as I put my stuff on the counter, said, “No, No, Senor Soren,” and they would take the time to leave the counter and find me something fresher or cheaper. Well, good karma, suddenly.
And it expanded further into flirting.
Them ladies like to flirt and so do I. They were flirting so much that a friend said: “Listen, bro, you got all these Latinas under your spell?” No, no spell – just Andalusian interaction. That means you are accepted and you’re valued. You’re seen as a friend.
We so need to feel recognized as individuals and not some necessary means to get our groceries. Try it out, where you do your shopping. Do you know the name of that man or lady serving you? Or do you know the name of the waiter at one of the places you go to eat out at? Learn it and remember it.
We create the spaces we walk through – why not make them warm, playful and friendly?
This winter they hired a new lady. She is jaw dropping pretty.
So, I started my protocol.
Learned her name and such. I really, really wowed her. She was a hard nut to crack. Wouldn’t make eye contact, couldn’t make her smile, but I managed by persistence.
Then I broke through; I have a hunch she asked the others, “Who is that strange hombre?” and got something like, “He´s okay.”
My daughter was down for a visit. We went to get some stuff she needed and the new lady was behind the register. We had eye contact and she broke out in a smile that could melt Antarctica.
My daughter shook her head. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.
In a time of social distancing – move closer.
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