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A 'Unified' Spain ?

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 24th Dec 2009

I was chatting with friends in the local bar the other week when we were joined by one of the Village elders. A Nice old guy, very chatty in his broad dialect and always curious to get to know more about us “Guiris” , so he always comes over and tries to engage us in conversation. Normally it is just about the weather, or the increasing cost of local housing or some other nicety, but unfortunately one of us made the big mistake of referring to him in the course of our conversation as being “Spanish”.

You would have thought that we had just questioned his parentage or accused him of being a major drugs baron, and pretty soon the whole bar was involved in a debate that we had apparently instigated. Anybody that has ever witnessed a Spanish debate in a Bar would know that in the UK the Police would generally be called due to it’s ferocity, and that a foreigner would stand little chance of understanding hardly anything that was being said.

It was almost as though we had just lit the blue touch paper and stood back to watch the fireworks.

It was only later, after most of the elders had said their piece and shuffled off, that we asked one of the Younger locals, the Barman who was pretty fluent , exactly what had just unfolded, and what we had said that had started the debate.

Apparently, the older generations in the Bar were busy deciding which Regions of Spain were truly “Spanish” and which were not. The Galicians, it seems were actually Portuguese, so they could be discounted – as could the Basques, who the rest of Spain didn’t really understand anyway. The Andalucians were claimed to be all lazy and backward peasants who were mostly either Moorish or gypsies, and those living on the Balearics or Canaries were not part of Spain anyway. Most areas of the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca were made up of Ghettoes for foreign expats who did not wish to integrate, or drunken tourists and these areas were not therefore worthy of consideration. The Catalans were regarded as being half-French and arrogant in continually pushing for independence from the rest of Spain, and nobody liked the Madrilenos because the city was not reflective of ‘the real Spain’.

After I’d apologised to the barman for nearly causing a riot, I asked him which areas of Spain most of the (local) elder generations considered to be Spanish. He said that he was born in the Town 40 – odd years ago, but as his father had moved to the Town as a young boy, even he was still considered a foreigner. He said that myself and my friends would almost certainly be accepted after living in the village another 60 years.

He went on to say how this was a conversation that would be held somewhere in Spain dozens of times a day, and that until the regions of Spain can live in harmony with each other, the idea of a truly unified Spain is a long way away.

I left the bar making a mental note to myself never to mention the word “Gibraltar” in a conversation, regardless of the circumstances.

Comment on this Blog

 
The Aragonese apparently have a reputation for being stubborn. There is a Madrileno joke : " How do you fit 12 Aragonese into a Mini ? : Tell them they can't !"
C Banks - Wed, 23rd Mar 2011
... Damn ! rumbled...
Mr Grumpy - Tue, 31st Aug 2010
Sounds like a made up story, in my opinion.
Guiri - Tue, 31st Aug 2010
Great blog post - it is fantastic how heated conversations can get here without resorting to blows or spilled drinks. Everyone really enjoys a good vociferous airing of the topic. And by the way, I believe residents of the Iberian peninsula are said to be loyal to their family (or football team) first, their village second, their province third, and somewhere tailing in at the rear, their country. And, while you may never be considered a local, after an evening drinking together, you may be considered part of the family.
Penny Lapenna - Wed, 27th Jan 2010

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