Spain under Franco, recycling, food & other commentary (E4) – Part 2

Journal E4, Pt 2

July 8, 2010

An interesting thing we talked about in class yesterday was the Spanish view of the Franco era. Alicia said, to try to be unbiased, that it was necessary to talk to a lot of people to find out what it was like, because some people thought it was a good time (because it was tranquil, due to the repression) while others have a very different opinion. She told us that women had no rights at that time – not only they couldn’t vote or own property, they also couldn’t make major purchases like cars or travel without their husband or father’s permission. Nowadays, it is very common to see couples kissing in the street, but at that time, they couldn’t even sit together in church if they weren’t married. Alicia said that her parents were arrested once, when they were engaged, because they gave each other a little innocent kiss in the street and a policeman saw them. Her father was arrested one other time too.

When girls and boys were in church, the girls would use the language of the fan – an open fan held a certain way could mean different things, such as “Meet me at 3:00” or “Yes, I’m interested.” On the other hand, if she were mad or wanted to show indifference, she would snap her fan closed in a dramatic way.  It’s hard to believe that this era ended only 35 years ago, when Franco died!

As a result of Spain getting behind the rest of Europe due to the repression of political, social and cultural change, they have had to change drastically to catch up. I’ve mentioned already that gays have made great strides and that Spain is one of only 3 European countries with legalized gay marriage. But in other ways, they have catching up to do. For example, a lot more people smoke here and it is more tolerated. I think there are laws about smoking at work, because I’ve seen people standing on the street outside their workplaces to smoke, but in bars, restaurants, on the street, in hotel rooms, etc. it is still tolerated.

Another way in which Spain has catching up to do is in its attitude toward trash and recycling. There are recycling bins all over the place, but they are not well utilized. Trash and litter are everywhere. It is mostly the younger generation that cares about this issue, while the older generations don’t really care. Even the younger people throw papers, cigarette butts, etc. on the street as they walk by.

Traffic here is crazy but nothing like in Brazil or other Latin American countries I’ve been to. They do stop at traffic lights, make way for ambulances and police cars with sirens, and allow pedestrians to cross when they are turning into a street. If there’s a garage set back from the street, the driver will stop when pedestrians are passing. This is totally unlike Brazil where

Madrid street scene-Gran Via

pedestrians always have the responsibility to watch out for their life by staying out of cars’ way. It was pretty much the same in Costa Rica too. Also there are a lot of crosswalks with crossing lights which work and change frequently. The more modern ones have a chirping bird sound when it is the pedestrian’s right of way.

The food here is pretty good but meal hours and sizes are hard to get used to. Everyone drinks coffee or another hot beverage in the morning with some small pastry or toast. They don´t eat their toast with butter and jam like we do – they spread them with olive oil and mild salsa. It’s really good this way! At  Barradas in the morning there is always toast, three kinds of cereal, hot and cold milk, coffee, cookies, croissants and muffins. They also serve juice in the morning. Everyone helps themselves to what they want.

Lunch is at 1:30 to 3:30 and is the most important meal of the day. Everyone takes time for lunch, usually an hour and a half to two hours, whether workers, students, etc. It’s very hot at this time and it is still common for people to take a siesta. However, most working people don´t have the luxury of this. School hours will be typically 9 to 12:30, and then they go home for lunch and siesta, returning at 3 pm until 5:30. Of course, most schools are not in session now, but at our school, we take classes in the morning (9:30-1:30) while other students attend in the afternoon (1:30-5:30) with a half hour break during that period.

After lunch, people don´t have a regular meal until 8 pm or later. If they are very hungry, they might have tapas and perhaps beer or wine at around 5:30 or so. The problem for us is that we get served dinner at Barradas from 8 to 10 pm and it is also a big meal!

Av. San Bernardo street scene – across the street is what we called the “Chinese Bazaar” (Mundo Bazar) where we would buy all kinds of ordinary things, that we might have forgotten to bring with us, anything for the home & other miscellaneous stuff. Prices were very cheap!! Up the street a little further was the Internet cafe where I wrote most of these journals!

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