Becoming a Spaniard

The transition to Spain from Cameroon was easy and challenging on so many levels. Here are a few pointers for the newbie in Granada:

  • Running etiquette – Always run as far right as you can. Rarely is anyone running in the middle of the path. If someone wants to pass you, they sneak up as close as they can behind you, dare they leave any room between them and the right edge of the path, and pass at the last minute, potentially causing you to crap your pants.
  • Running etiquette does not apply to sidewalks or wuggers* – People, like anywhere else in the world, walk slow and look at things. A lot of things. Things up, things down, pigeon things, things on windows, all things. Looking at things slows one’s footsteps, causing a slight lean across the sidewalk towards the direction of their attention. Beware of the lean. Also beware of the wugging*. I have noticed its popularity in Granada to be higher than average.
  • Leave your house at sundown – This is a tricky one for me. In Yaounde, when the sun went down, you did not meander around the streets. In Granada, the city really does not come alive until after the sun disappears. I feel safe at night here, but I am still a little uneasy about the idea. I guess it does keep my wits about me which is reassuring. On the contrary, I have adapted quickly and efficiently to the European life style of wakeup around noon, lunch around 2, dinner after 9pm, loose sense of time and pass out at 3am.
  • Return at sunrise – People stay out all night here drinking and partying. Literally. So, that makes sunrise/early morning a more dangerous time to be out and about. On our way to the bus stop at 8am on a Saturday, Jobey and I were pretty much chased by, what seemed like, surreal jungle men. They were the definition of grunge, about our age, but totally wacked on something. We were on a main street and as we saw them approaching, they crossed the street to our sidewalk. We quickly jay-walked to the opposite side and they immediately followed suit. By this time they were running at us yelling incoherent things. It happened so fast. I slung my bag to my front and held tight as Jobey started yelling “GO AWAY!” After intimidating us for a few seconds they eventually carried on their animalistic scavenge as we ran far in the opposite direction. Thankfully we were together, and neither of us wet ourselves. I do not want to give thought to the idea of being alone in that situation.
  • P1000689Moroccan influence – Granada is beautiful and full of culture. The culture is a mix between southern Spain and Morocco. Morocco brings teteria tea rooms (see picture) and little shops with beautiful canvases and handmade pottery, jewellery, and nicknacks of sorts. The shop keepers are tame for the most part, greeting with a simple hola, but you do get the odd pusher.
  • Never expect anything to be open – The siesta is real. It throws everything into a guessing game. Things don’t open until at least 9am and will be closed mid afternoon, reopening around 7pm.
  • Avoid prolonged eye contact and don’t smile first – I read somewhere that too much eye contact can be considered flirting. This happened a few times to me already and was followed with some spanish woo. And, I will add, if eye contact is made, do not be the first one to smile. If you do this people just think you’re weird. It is so hard for me not to use a smile as a friendly greeting. IMG_0568
  • Old ladys hiss and gypsies throw rosemary – Jobey and I were hissed at by some old lady the other day. We didn’t believe it at first, but I was told old ladys may hiss at young girls, especially blondes, because they think they are hookers. You may now call us Angel ChloBlow and Bebe JoHoe. You will see, from time to time, gypsy women handing out rosemary near touristy areas and offering to read your palm. They claim to not charge you, but the very fact that they need to state this makes us cautious. So far we have refused their offers. I will keep you posted if we feel daring one of these days.
  • Southern Spain language – Just as you may get a drawl as you move south in the United States, the Spaniards seem to loose the ability to produce the sound of /s/ in the South. For myself, it really didn’t make much of a difference since I am not fluent in spanish. Jobey mentioned it took her a while to adapt her own school-sheltered spanish to real life Granada free talk. She won’t admit it, but she does a real nifty job at speaking and conversing in Spanish.
    I just look stupid. My french brain pops up every time I go to talk and I speak a jumble of french and gibberish. If that doesn’t happen, I loose the ability to say anything at
    aP1000324ll and I just stare wide eyed with a nervous giggle, wrapped up with a “….yaa”.
  • Tapas! – Tapas are small appetizers that come with a drink (preferably beer – although the size of your beer is always random), starting after approximately 8pm. In Granada they are… free! Stayed tuned for more reviews (really just our excuse to eat as many tapas as possible and drink beer) from around the city.


*Wugging = The promenade of two people, together, with the inability to separate. Step by step, they proceed to their destination, in a semi-side embrace. To wug is to hug and walk. A person who participates in wugging can be referred to as a wugger. I have strong opinions on wugging, specifically regarding the inconvenience/comfortability of walking for the wuggers and other innocent by-walkers, but I will remain objective on this subject.

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