Funny Spaniardisms – Part 4

Salamanca Plaza Mayor-001
Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor during Semana Santa

So we’re over a year and a half into our multi-year adventure and I’ve been keeping a list of “Spaniardisms” that have struck me as funny in the eyes of this North American.  Click here for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.


I don’t know many Spaniards that actually fall asleep during the midday siesta, but I’ve been known to take one myself.  And now Spain’s Prime Minister wants to get rid of it entirely!

Siesta – fun for the whole family!

A quick note on the siesta.

When we first arrived, we were surprised that the “siesta hour” (when many shops close, etc) was so late in the day.  Typically 2-5pm.  It now makes more sense.  Spain is in the Central Europe time zone, as opposed to the Western Europe time zone like its longitudinal brothers Portugal and Great Britain.  Apparently in the early 1940’s Franco wanted to show solidarity with Nazi Germany and moved the clocks one hour forward and that it where it has sat for 7 decades.


Now Spain continues to share the same time zone as Poland!


I recently learned that the word paella doesn’t refer to the delicious overtly Spanish dish.  My friends rarely use the word at all“Hey, you want to come over for rice later?”

Finally I asked why people only referred to paella as rice (arroz).


Turns out paella is simply the name of the shallow pan used for cooking the saffron-laced treat.  They said, “Paella sounds more exotic and is for the tourists.”  Makes sense.

I suppose it would be like us calling a pancake a ‘griddle’.


I’m not sure if it just the company that I choose to hang out with, but many Spaniards I know are able to easily identify plants of all types quite easily just by looking at leafs prior to any fruit blossoming.  “Oh, that farm over there is growing cucumbers and that there is a poplar tree.”  Speaks to how well they know where their food comes from (or how little I know from where mine comes).

Our neighbor's urban veggie garden
Our neighbor’s urban veggie garden

The same can be said with identifying different types of wines and grapes. Maybe it is because I’m not from any sort of wine country, but on the whole, they know their stuff.


Point A to B

It’s kind of refreshing but cars here are very modest in both size and flashiness.  It makes sense from an economic and practical standpoint – a large, fancy car can’t maneuver the medieval streets.

I see fewer “luxury” brands and cars here tend to be looked at merely to get from point A to B.  As a result, they also tend to be less looked after as compared to what I see in the States.  We joke with one friend that his dashboard looks like a Christmas tree with every check engine and warning light permanently illuminated when he starts his car.

Most cars around here have battle wounds like these.
Usual battle wounds

Ex Hippies

There is a very bohemian culture in Granada.  One that I appreciate and don’t necessarily see in many other Spanish cities.

Lots of hippies like to grow their hair out.  I feel like growing dreadlocks, the longer the better, show you have beatnik credentials.

The fun part is when they get older and/or receding hairlines, it’s not uncommon to get a “regular” haircut but leave one dread out the back just to show that you indeed did have dreads in the past and haven’t yet entirely succumbed to the man.



Learning another language makes you appreciate how literal translations from English aren’t always (nor usually) the best.  Everyone with high school level Spanish knows that the word for sick is enfermo.

The other week when my wife wasn’t feeling so great (tired, congested – usual cold symptoms, nothing grave) I said she was enferma.  Whenever I would say this, people would show me great sympathy eyes, ask what ailed her, if she had seen a doctor or been to the hospital, and that she felt better soon.  While these reactions were really sweet and sympathetic, I couldn’t help but feel they were way over the top.

Turns out, an enfermedad in these parts means a more serious illness and that I should just say she is resfriada (has a cold) or malita (a little bad).

Help Yourself

At the grocery store you can buy individual cans of water, soda, tonic, juice, so the drink aisles are an absolute mess.  Everyone opens up the packaging and takes a can or two.


Oink oink

I have to credit my expat friend WB for this observation.  A while ago he challenged me and asked if I had ever seen any sort of pig farm in Spain.

For those of you who have never visited, there are cured ham legs hanging from bars, restaurants, and grocery stores absolutely all over.  It’s mind-boggling to think of the numbers of rear hind quarters involved.


It got me thinking.  I’ve now spent almost 3 entire years in this country, traveling around the different provinces and I have never seen penned pigs.  Chickens, cows, bulls, wild boars?  Yes, yes, and yes.

I think they come from Africa.


5 thoughts on “Funny Spaniardisms – Part 4”

  1. My father, coming from a Midwest farm growing up, could look at a field and say, “there is alfalfa” or potatoes, or whatever was growing in the space. I thought it was magical that he could identify the crop growing from our car. Nice to know that some people still have that gift. Get a field of pumpkins, and I’m 100% accurate! 🙂

  2. Hello! I am a new reader of your blog. I lived in Rota, Cadiz for 3 years from 2005-2008 and I’m hoping I can live there again. It was easy for me the first time to obtain that 3 year “non working” visa, as I was a spouse of a US military person at that time. My plan is to move there in 5 years when my husband’s sons are done with high school and it seems I will be having to use that “non lucrative” visa plan. I plan to read more of your blog posts, but this one definitely brings back a lot of memories for me. I love Andalucia and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Spain.

    1. As soon as I read Rota, I knew you were most likely associated with the Navy.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Cadiz as a province is my favorite to visit in all of Spain. So much variety and beauty. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica.

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