iEstoy en Espana! (Email #1 from Abroad)

iBuenas tardes, Americanos!

I am currently in Toledo, Spain. I was in Madrid for two days… What a big city filled with LOTS of people! Saw many castles, royal palaces, cathedrals, monasteries and tombs. So much history!!!

Toledo's old defense city wall

Toledo's old defense city wall

I am liking Toledo even more so far. It’s a quaint, romantic, little town. Much smaller than Madrid. Cobblestone streets, grand buildings made of limestone and big cement bricks. Terraces outside every window, flower boxes on each, laundry hanging out to dry… just like a picture. Many, many adorable cafes, cervezarias, taperias.

The food is….. interesting. It seems to me that Spanish people like to make meals out of appetizers (tapas en Espanol). (Actually, this makes sense to me. I find myself doing the same thing whenever I am at a buffet or catered event back home.) Fried Spanish croquettes, mini sausages on toothpicks, ham, chorizo, many different types of cheese and bread, pork, paella, ham, meatballs, squid, pan con tomate, mini chicken skewers, jamon, spiced clams, gazpacho… Yup. Ham is definitely the meat of choice here in Spain. Sangria is, of course, the drink of choice. (And now, I understand why!)

Water is not usually just given when you sit down at a restaurant and food is not that important. You eat to stay alive, but meals are not a livelihood. Rather, folks here focus on spending time with friends and family on a regular basis (5-6 nights a week). Visiting over some tapas or coffee is very common.

  • Grapes have seeds in them.
  • Croissants are part of almost every meal.
  • Electricity is conserved.
  • Mosques, churches and temples are mere blocks from one another.
  • Ketchup costs money, unless you are at McDonald’s.
  • Gouda cheese is EVERYWHERE. (You would love that, Dad!)
  • I now know I do not like Gouda cheese.
  • Spaniards talk with a lisp. It’s not hot. It’s confusing.
  • Tipping at restaurants is not required or even expected. Ordering in Spanish kinda is.
  • People here have heard of Pita Jungle??? (You could be a celebrity, Nick!)
  • Drinking on the streets is permitted. (So, I thought of Mike.)
  • People don’t start eating dinner until 10pm. You don’t eat breakfast till about 9:30am.
  • Lunch is the biggest meal of the day.
  • Internet is not nearly as important as it is in the States. Sometimes, it’s non-existent.
  • Adults are out pushing their kids on a park swing on a weekday during “business hours.”
  • Many Spaniards are white.
  • Very white.
  • I’ve almost gotten hit by a car or moped three times already.
A Toledo church

A Toledo church

The night life is ALWAYS going… everybody drinks. (Lorena! Ven en diciembre con Jamilah, chica loquita!)

And none of the businesses really seem to count their money… or write anything down. (So, I don’t think you’d like to be an accountant here, Aunt Pam.)

Anyways, it’s shower time. I leave for Barcelona manana. After that, no more four-star hotels… I’ll be living en una casa con mi mama espanola, Consuelo, y su perro quien tiene 10 anos. (Don’t tell Bubba, Dad.)

All my love and inshallah I hope you are all doing well back home.

iHasta luego!


Dinner with some friends

Dinner with some friends

Original email September 4, 2007


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Filed under Nuances, Spain

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