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SPANISH HABITS

My Spanish habits that foreigners just don’t get

Do the Spanish have certain habits you just can't work out? Here Spanish author Alberto Letona lists a number of typical national traits or customs that leave his foreign friends bemused...or if queuing is involved, even enraged.

My Spanish habits that foreigners just don't get
Spaniards like to pace along the beach. Esparta Palma / Flickr

1. We are very noisy


Photo: SETShots / Flickr

Noise is everywhere in Spain whether in restaurants, on the buses, or at the beach. In bars the TV is often on, even if people aren’t watching. This makes conversations louder and the Spanish difficult to understand, for non-native and natives alike.

The latter are more resourceful; They will raise their voice even louder to be heard.  

.2. We go to bed late


Photo: Bark / Flickr 

Staying up late is part of daily life in Spain. At home it is not unusual to have dinner at ten and if you go to a restaurant, you’ll find it difficult to get a table before 9pm. At weekends we don’t start going out until at least 9pm and the night can be very long. Work is mañana.

3. We kit ourselves out for sport


Photo: The Pug Father/Flickr 

Dressing in the correct way to take exercise is a rule for the locals. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at the Vuelta de España with professional cyclists when you use Spanish roads on the weekends. Don’t blow your horn at them, they would not take it graciously.

4. We like to be in a crowd (in pre-Covid times)


Photo: Allen Skyy/Flickr

The Spaniards are very gregarious. We all go out for a stroll at the same time and usually to the same places. Sometimes with friends, and other times with family, but very rarely alone.

5. We like to party…a lot


Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

The summer fiestas of every village in Spain are a kind of social event that you cannot miss. This is the place to see and be seen. The younger ones enjoy their first drinks in life, and their parents are most likely enjoying themselves preparing traditional dishes with their friends.

6. We are a contradiction in terms


Photo: AFP

Liberal-minded but conservative in their life style is a description that fits many Spaniards. Even the most politically left wing citizens are ready to take part as a pious believer in the religious processions at Easter. 

7. We pace up and down the beach


Photo: Esparta Palma/Flickr

Pacing up and down the seashore is a favourite pastime for anyone over thirty. Sometimes the beaches get so crowded with people marching back and forth that it is difficult to imagine this activity as a pleasurable stroll. But we do it anyway. 

8. We all want to work in the public sector


Photo: tec_estromberg / flickr

Being a “funcionario” (civil servant) is a very sought after and carefully planned occupation for many. A job for life is often a source for admiration or envy among the different social classes in Spain.

9. We abandon our offices en masse at 11am


Photo: Alda Chou

Mid-morning is the time when everybody working in an office walks out to have a long coffee break in the bar with their colleagues. This is the moment to talk about the trials and tribulations of domestic life. Sometimes if the conversation is very engaging the break can go on a long time.

10. We don’t do queuing


Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr 

Jumping the queue is a national trait. Very few people respect queues in this country. If you are catching a bus, please be aware of old ladies. They are sometimes the most pushy and will try to go first, even if they know that you have been waiting longer.

Alberto Letona is the author of Hijos e Hijas de la Gran Bretaña – Sons and Daughters of Great Britain – in which he delves into the psyche of the British in an attempt to explain them to his own countrymen. 

Read more on his opinions of the British

LIFE IN SPAIN

What to do about insects and other pests in your home in Spain?

Bugs and insects can sometimes be a problem in Spanish homes, particularly during the summer months. Here's what to do if you get an infestation and how to prevent them from happening.

What to do about insects and other pests in your home in Spain?

Fruit flies buzzing around the bins, cockroaches in the kitchen and ants invading your food cupboards can be a common sight in your Spanish home, more often than not in summer.

But what can you do when insects invade your home? 

What types of pests are common in Spain?

Bugs and insects that commonly invade homes in Spain include fruit flies, ants, stink bugs, cockroaches, pantry moths, plaster bagworms and mosquitoes.

Those who have pets may also have a problem with your animals bringing fleas and ticks into the home too.

READ ALSO: Ticks are proliferating in Spain: How to avoid them and protect yourself

These can cause a nuisance, not only flying around your home and biting you (in the case of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks), but they can get into your food and lay eggs in your cupboards.

How can I get rid of bugs in my home?

One of the most important ways you can keep insects and other bugs out of your home is to eliminate food sources.

This means always doing the washing up as soon as you’ve finished eating so there are no scraps laying around, sweeping kitchens and dining rooms regularly and putting opened food items in the fridge instead of the cupboards.

You also need to make sure you regularly empty your rubbish bin and that there are no gaps between the lid and the bin that flies can get in through.

Dusting, hoovering and general regular cleaning will also keep other insects at bay such as plaster bagworms and moths that lay larvae on your walls and ceiling.

Those with pets should make sure that animals are treated with flea and tick protection and combed through with special flea combs to make sure bugs are not stuck in their fur.

Summer can of course be very hot in Spain, with temperatures regularly in the high 30°Cs or even low 40°Cs in some parts of Andalusia and other regions, meaning that windows and doors are often left open to ensure a breeze. Unfortunately, this means that your home is more accessible to insects too.

If you can, get a fly screen for your doors and windows, so you can leave them open, but no bugs can get in. These fine mesh screens can be bought from hardware or home stores such as Leroy Merlin and can simply be lifted into place when you need them.

If you can’t get screens installed, then consider planting certain plants on windowsills or balconies. Lavender, basil, lemongrass and mint are all natural insect repellents.

Electric fly swats, ant traps and sticky paper can also all help eliminate pests in your home. 

READ ALSO: What venomous species are there in Spain?

Insecticides

When the situation becomes worse, simple everyday cleaning won’t suffice and you may need to use insecticides to kill the infestation. There are many different brands in Spain. Both Protect Home and Compo have several different products you can use.

If you don’t want to use chemical insecticides, natural ones made from white vinegar, citrus plants, or peppermint oil can also work.

Pest control

If the situation becomes completely out of control and you find that insects are not only entering your home but that they are breeding there too, it’s time to call in the professionals. Pest control services are available across Spain.

The first step is to check your home insurance to see if they will cover this service. If they won’t, they may be able to suggest a company that can help.

Otherwise, a quick Google search for ‘Control de plagas’ (pest control) and then your area should provide you with plenty of options.

According to the home website Habitissimo, pest control services in Spain can range from €80 up to €2,000 depending on the type of infestation you have, how serious the problem is and how big your property is. On average it will cost you around €267.

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