Saturday, April 4, 2015

Observations about Spain, part 1 (random stuff)

(Cross-posted at Hit Coffee.)

My wife and I just returned from our honeymoon in Spain.  (We had actually gotten married about two years ago, but for a variety of reasons we’ve had to wait until now.)  Here are some of my observations/thoughts.

1.  I had never been to Europe or to any country other than the US or Canada before our trip. It was weird to be crossing the Atlantic, knowing that what once had been a great barrier could be crossed in hours.

2.  My Spanish is very poor.  I can understand my wife (who speaks it well), but my ability to speak the language is, err, “challenged.”  Still, I was surprised at how much I was able to understand when others spoke it.  It was also interesting to hear the use of “vosotros”/”vosotras” and what is known as the “Castillian lisp.”  I knew both features marked Iberian Spanish from the American Spanish I’m more used to.  But it was interesting to hear it in person.

3.  I was oddly surprised at how much American influence was evident in the culture.  I say “oddly” because I knew/know that American culture has a pretty wide reach and that Europe is in that “western” mold.  But still, it was striking to me how much Spain seemed like the US.  The fact we were in only two locales may have affected my impression. We stayed in what is probably downtown Madrid, although we visited some friends of my wife in a more residential area of that city.  We also stayed in Santiago de Compostela, in what is probably the touristy part (where the big Cathedral is).  We visited some friends there, too, but they lived nearby that area.

4.  The disaster with the Lufthansa airplane happened the day before we left for Spain.  My wife and I had both read about it, but declined to mention it to the other for fear that it would make the other nervous about the flight.  We thought we were keeping it a secret.  However, Spanish media covered the disaster quite extensively. (The plane had taken off from Barcelona).  I’m not sure how the coverage there compares to coverage in the US, or how it compares with coverage of other air disasters, like the TWA 800 flight in 1996.  (I mention that flight because my niece knew two of the people who died.)
In my next post, I’ll make a couple of observations about what little I grokked of Spanish persons’ thoughts on politics.

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