I like the Spanish siesta. I like that my host family is a five minute walk from school. I usually walk home from school and have lunch right after class at 2:30. I haven’t taken advantage of the nap possibilities as much as I could but I like that it is available. Many shops close for the afternoon here in Oviedo. I’ve walked past the grocery store many times and seen the doors closed, telling us we should all be at home or at a restaurant taking a break. The bars and restaurants fill with people taking a break and talking to each other. In Philly I live close to where I work. I wish I could get a two hour break and go home, eat something I have made and take a light nap before returning to work. A fifteen or thirty minute break seems cruel and barbaric to me now.I’m sure many efficiency experts have concluded that Spain’s economy would be better if they didn’t take a break in the middle of the day. All those closed business could be making money during those times. I like that the country has figured out how to slow down. There is no culture of relaxing in the US. Often there is only the pursuit of the bottom line. Spain is one country that has managed to withstand the Borg-like envelopment of Capitalism into every part of life.
I like the compactness of the city. Oviedo has 31,000 residents per square mile, Philadelphia has 12,000. According to Wikipedia, Oviedo is more dense than New York City. This city is very walkable. The streets change names constantly and aren’t on any kind of logical grid system which makes it a fun city to explore. It feels as though there is no fastest way to get to any place on foot. There are different routes and some are more interesting than others but they all seem to get a person from one place to the other in about the same amount of time. I used to walk through campus to get to city center because it seemed to be the fastest way but now I go around because I don’t have to go up steps and then back down to get where I’m going. I also can walk in the shade with my new route which wasn’t a concern the first few weeks, but these last few days it has been a smart move. Because of the clear days the hills that surround the city are visible.
The one thing I don’t like about Spain is the number of cigarette smokers here. I live in West Philly and it seems that the smoker is a rare breed in that part of the city. Here in Spain it appears there is no neighborhood exempt from cigarette smoke. I don’t know the culture of smoking and how it works here in Spain. I do know that I see people walking down the street all the time having a cigarette. I guess there have to be a few things I don’t like.