Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spanish Culture

One of the things I appreciate about living here in the Canary Islands is the orderliness and respect they show toward one another. Having lived in Mexico for several years, there is quite a contrast. In Mexico it was very common for people to jump ahead of others in line at the meat market, and it would really ruffle my feathers when people would exhibit this type of behaviour. Here in the islands, the people for the most part, pay attention to who is next in line, and even offer to let you go ahead if they know you were there before they were. When a new line at the grocery store opens up, they respect whoever is next in the old line--not just whoever gets to the new line first. We always had to be on our guard in Mexico for merchants who would purposely raise the prices for foreigners, hoping to gain an extra dollar or two. Here in Spain, you can pretty much expect that the price that they are charging you is what they charge to everyone. Every store has a "complaint" book that you can ask for if you think you have been mistreated or overcharged, and the government checks it. You can also go to a consumer affairs office and make a complaint if a company has taken advantage of you. It is probably similar to our Better Business Bureau in the states. Also in Mexico you had to be aware that policemen would stop you and want you to pay them directly for made up traffic violations--they were corrupt and regularly accepted bribes. I appreciate the fact that here in the islands you don't have to worry about made up traffic violations, greedy aduana officers, etc. I don't mean to say that all the authorities in Mexico were corrupt, but it was hard to know who you could trust and who was out to take advantage of you. I don't feel that here in Spain. The other day I was in a public place, and the woman's bathroom was occupied, so I asked the next woman in line if she was going to use the "handicap" bathroom, and she replied no--I was in a bit of a hurry, and seeing that no one was around that might not be in need of the facility I went ahead and used the handicap bathroom. The lady reproved me, saying I wasn't allowed to use it-- and it was scandalous to them--she proceeded to share with her friend the error I had committed. Please don't judge me--I don't make a habit of it either--but it is just another example of how the Spanish people respect their orderly life and respect the "rules." Ususally it is the "foreigners" who disregard the unwritten cultural rules--no wonder we sometimes have a bad reputation among them.

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