Life in Spain 2: Car Parking, Extreme Single Tasking and Random Windows.

Continuing my slant on the idiosyncracies of Spanish life.

The opposite of Multi Tasking is, naturally enough, Single Tasking and that’s the way they roll in Spain. A Spanish man never does more than one thing at a time. In fact major tasks like buying a stamp or going for a haircut could very well be the only accomplishment in a whole day. A major task, like filling up with petrol, could also include a day of planning before the actual task day. Lots of things to consider on the planning day. The route to and from the petrol station, quantity to purchase, method of payment, what to wear etc etc. Opinions from trusted friends may be sought, over a one hour coffee, or a three hour lunch.The taskee will often designate the following  day as a recovery day, or a celebration day, depending on how smoothly, the operation went. Manana manana is a way of life here, not just a phrase. The mantra of the Spanish Senor is ‘Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after that.

You know those calendars that you can write on, the ones that have only a single line for each day? We think of them as useless and only good for writing ‘Rebecca’s birthday’ on. Well, they are the only planning tool a spanish hombre needs. More than enough space.

  • Mon 1st Buy potatoes.
  • Tues 2nd Clean brown shoes.
  • Wed  3rd Book hotel for mother in law’s visit.
  • Thur 4th See Paco about bullfight.
  • Fri    5th Check the price of fish at market.
  • Sat    6th Buy a fish (if good value).
  • Sun   7th Church (take small coins).
  • Mon  8th Buy new hammer.
  • Tues  9th Hang picture.
  • Wed  10th Go to Bullfight with Paco.
  • Thur 11th Clean black shoes.
  • Fri    12th  Recycling  (Important!).

Ah well, you get the idea.

Old-Men-On-A-Bench 1

men on bench 2

There are dozens of benches to sit around on in Spain. Every town and village have their share. And they get used a lot. Once one guy sits down, tired after a heavy morning at the newsagents, others soon congregate. Like pigeons outside Greggs. This is where important decisions are made, wars averted, social problems solved and football managers sacked. It’s also a good place to practice whistling I’ve noticed.

Not Petrol Heads







Look along any sidestreet just out of the town centres or in the ‘burbs and you will see at a glance the Spaniards relationship with his car. Some of them look like they have been there for years. Covered in dirt, leaves and bird shit. I’ve seen better cared for cars in scrapyards. You will not see one without dents, paint scraped off the bumpers, broken mirrors etc, etc. Car bumpers are used quite literally in Spain. To bump. They are a parking aid. A parking space deemed too small in the rest of Europe is merely a challenge at best to a Spanish driver. Five, or even six cars are routinely shoehorned into an area barely big enough for four in England. This is achieved with a shunting manoeuvre, taught by driving instructors and considered an essential skill for motorists. It’s part of the driving test. After parking, the space between parked cars must be just sufficient to insert the ten of spades between the bumpers. If the jack of diamonds will also fit, then that is an epic fail, a waste of street space, and could draw withering looks from passers by. If a street sign or bollard has to be pushed aside then so be it. If you’re in a hire car consider parking illegally away from Spanish cars. Pay the fine but save the damage costs. Just an idea…

The Art of Window Dressing

…is an unknown concept to the Spanish independent shopkeeper. No ‘rule of three’ here. No merchandise nestling in baskets of straw, no props or ‘visual storytelling’. None of that bullshit for the senors and senoras of the Spanish retail world. No. Their philosophy is simple. We’ve got it. We want to sell it. So stick it in the window. All of it. Toasters sit alongside shoes. Kids toys next to table lamps. And sets of mini screwdrivers share their space with miniature bottles of whisky, bicycle pumps and jars of jam.


The stuff gets piled higher and higher and when it’s all in it can be left for years. And years. If you are one of those collectors who buys stuff like kids toys to keep and watch them increase in value, then you should take a trip to the neighbourhood shops of provincial Spain. You might find a jigsaw of Atlantis with the instructions in Latin.

Keep looking. See if you notice this stuff. Lemme know in the comments section

Life in Spain part 1 is here

Camino de santiago 1 is here

Vietnam blogs start Here and Bangkok Here



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