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More of a Spaniard than many Spanish

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 10th Dec 2010

Now that the Mrs & I have served our probation here in Spain, it finally seems that we have sloughed off our 'Guiri status' (or at least as much as an expat ever can) and have started to make inroads in being accepted into the community. Or at least our daughter has and we just tag along.

But one thing has started to become more and more prevalent over the years, and it is something that I think gives an insight into the Spanish psyche overall....

The Town that I live in is quite small - only about 2'000 residents, but the last census showed that around 20% of the Citizens were 'Non-Spanish', although I think that this figure will have dropped over the last few years due to various expats returning to their home countries due the economic climate. It is also situated in an inland valley, a largely farming community, and as such there isn't a great deal of tourists that venture this far away from the costa before being beaten away with large sticks.

As such us 'foreigners' of all other nationalities are quite noticable, and all carrying the same expat tag, are all in the same boat together and as such generally tend to be more outgoing socially and tend to help each other out whenever needs be. I suppose this is down to the fact that 90% of the locals have a massive family support network to call on, but it can sometimes be tough going for those of us that don't have one.

But it is only really after we have managed to get to know a number of Spaniards that we have found out that many of them are not actually 'local' and that they find it much easier to mix and communicate with the expat community as opposed to the local Spanish community. In our Town I know of a number of people who are Madrilenos, Murcians, Andalusian and Basques that have all been sidelined by the local Spanish community down to the fact that they were not born and bred locally, and that they didn't speak the local, regional language. As such they felt that they were more a part of the expat community and in many cases had developed a good standard of spoken English!

In a lot of cases, when we tried to communicate with the teachers at the local school (whose language is mainly Valenciano), they were quite understanding that we couldn't speak Valenciano and morethan happy to speak with us in Castilian. They even seemed happy that we were making the effort to do so. But similarly, they often refused to speak to their fellow countrymen in the official national language, and as such in certain cases I, a non-spaniard had to explain what was going on at school to a Spanish parent. Crazy.

But it feels equally strange that we, as English, are accepted by the 'local' Spanish community over and above their own fellow countrymen. Why is this ?

I want to propose some lofty, deep and meaningful explanation for this along the lines of the Franco regime trying to limit and suppress travel on a large scale, or that the Franco years brought about a suspicion of outsiders, but to be honest with you I have absolutely no evidence at all for this and am probobaly clutching at staws for some kind of answer.

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