05 August 2011

Friday Replay- Lessons from the Spanish

Friday Replay is where I get a chance to replay some of the posts that I wrote  back when the only people reading were my mother and husband. So many of them mean a lot to me, and show my heart a bit more, so much so that I want to share them with the many readers I'm blessed to have now!

Chocolate Con Churros

Ah, España. Today I miss the pace of life there. I miss the rhythm of the crosswalks, the smell of street food and the clinking of spoons in café con leche. There's something so different, so opposite the pace here in America.

On a day trip to Granada my husband and I walked up the narrow streets of the Albayzín to get a good overlook of the Alhambra. We sat in the square taking in the view, surrounded by gypsies strumming violently on their guitars- their long jet-black hair blowing around in the wind. We lost track of time.

Next thing we knew, our bus was close to leaving and we were still lost in the narrow streets where no taxi could go. Hungry from walking we hurried into a local café for some "take out" for the road. There we stood, panting; surrounded by men sipping wine and smoking cigarettes.

        John: *out of breath* Do you have take out?
        Bartender: *laughing* No take out.
        John: But we're in a hurry. 
        Patron: *grabs John by the shoulders* There's no "fast food" here.
        Bartender: Slow down.

Lesson learned. The next day back in Malaga we took their advice and slowed way down. The morning was spent at Café Central where we drank fresh squeezed orange juice, ate a croissant and churros con chocolate. We sat hand in hand, both chairs pointed to the street for hours. After that we strolled along the beach and found a restaurant on the sand that served fresh fish. It was the best meal of my life. After a hefty dinner of paella, gelato, and one too many glasses of sangria we went to our hostal and curled up in bed.

Life in slow motion is so much richer. I know that life in America can be fast-paced, high demand, and no nonsense. But just stop. Stop to listen, smell, see, and think. Take a minute to notice your surroundings and the beauty of your people. Life moves fast, and in America it is just too easy to miss.


Question of the Day:
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from a culture different than your own?



  1. sadly we went out of the country and it really taught me to appreciate my own more!

    I have also learned that we as Americans really do need to learn to slow down, enjoy the day, embrace the beauty we have around us :)

  2. When I travel to Jamaica for mission work I am constantly reminded of how much the American culture has, and how much we sometimes expect. Jamaica has taught me that we do not need all the fancy things in life to be happy. That all you really need is a good support system and trust in a higher power. I have watched many Jamaican workers use scraps to make tools with branches, just watching how resourceful the people of Jamaica are is amazing!

    Thanks for sharing this post!

  3. Ah, I absolutely love love love churros!! So good, with that thick hot chocolate!! It's a good lesson to learn too though. Have you evr read the book 'Slow'? Can't remember the author's name, but he has a talk about it on TED. Really inspiring!!

  4. What a great post - I'm glad you re-shared! I agree, life is way too fast, traveling is SO much more fun when you slow down. Why is it that Europeans seem to get this?? :) And churros con chocolate sounds like heaven!

  5. Love this. So, so true. We are way too fast-paced here! One thing I love is when we have some of our long-time furniture reps up for lunch and we sit out back, under the trees, sipping wine and drinking Pelligrino for several hours. The idea of sitting, watching the streets while eating your breakfast and just taking your time - that sounds lovely. I've never been to Italy, but I hear all the time how during lunch, things slow down. People eat and enjoy it. And in Europe they don't work nearly as much as we do in the States (so I've heard) and they get more vacation time. Wake up America!! Let's get on board with THAT!!

  6. Sometimes I get so caught up in this fast-paced city life that I forget to slow it down and savor once in a while. I always wonder how I would do if I lived in a place like Granada. It would be such a refreshing change of pace, but a huge culture shock (What?! No 24/7 Rite Aids?!).

    That little anecdote between your husband and the bartender made me smile :)

  7. ow, what a wonderful meal! i would have to follow the consensus here. it always seems like it takes an major illness for an american to slow down a bit.

    one thing i noticed is there is not one suv in all of paris! we tend to think we're safer in bigger vehicles, but if we would accept commuter rail and public transportation, we wouldn't be limited to sitting in traffic getting 4 miles per gallon...too much? ha!

  8. Very true (and beautifully written, I felt like I was sitting in that cafe!). Every time I go to Europe I come back feeling like I have learnt something valuable about life. I really appreciate the emphasis they put on slowing things down, spending more time with your family and of course, FOOD! I also wonder why more countries haven't adopted the fabulous tradition of a siesta? Oh well. I live in eternal hope!

  9. Hillary- I have to agree. People can be so resourceful. Most of the trash we throw out could be used for building houses, and other uses around the house or the yard.

    Malin- Haven't read it. But will check it out. If it was on TED it's bound to be good. That site rocks.

    BonBon- You are totally right...the only SUVs and trucks are service vehicles and such (and even those are small). I've heard people say that Americans are lazy for only driving automatics two. Although John and I both have 5-speeds and get really tired of them sometimes.

    Meghan- The spending time with family is a huge one. Every place I've ever been, as soon as the sun started to set, entire families would flood the streets for a walk around town and some coffee. I loved it! Community is so much more important there and not something we value very highly here in America. (Not to say it's non-existent)

  10. i've been to Granada and Malaga! It's been over 10 years though so my memory is a little fuzzy...

    From when I lived in China, the biggest thing I want to implement in my life is sharing food. I adored going out to eat with 10 friends and ordering a bunch of dishes to put on the lazy susan and just grab. something so joyful about that experience!

  11. The churros and chocolate look amazing! :)

    It was such a shock to us when dinner in Paris lasted 3-4 hours! We weren't prepared for the wait and was so hungry! lol We definitely need to slow down and learn to enjoy our meals more. Maybe not 3-4 hours but definitely no meals on the go and no phone/texting while eating.

  12. Hannah I hope you don't mind if I use your idea of replaying posts, I think it's great! Slowing down is something I've also learnt - surprisingly though I learnt it from my own culture. I've also been on the go, always very busy. I grew up in the city so life was a tad bit faster here. My husband grew up on a little island and this year I've spent so much time on smaller islands in my country and they've really taught me to slow right now. Also, communal ism - people do almost everything together. The evening meal...a bowl of food is sent to the house next door, and the bowl doesn't get returned empty. Left your clothes on the clothes line and now it's about to pour? No problem, the lady next door will run to get your clothes in along with hers...there's something so beautiful and reassuring about that :)

  13. that i need to learn to slow the mess down. here in australia they lean towards the european notion of long holidays and lunches, sitting at a cafe for hours with just 'being' .... i'm halfway good at that now, i can just sit at a cafe about... 20 minutes longer than i could before

  14. I think it's a nice idea, here in Italy slowin down is even too much pretty normal!

  15. That is a fantastic question! I was in Europe last summer for two weeks, and I definitely learned a lot. When I saw people sitting in cafes in Paris at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, my first thought was "Doesn't anyone have to work tomorrow?" Then I realized that spending time with people and making memories is far greater than doing laundry:)

  16. I love the replay idea! Consider it borrowed. :)

    I did my teaching internship in Ireland (with several European adventures on the side) and I fell in love with the lifestyle. For a chronically late person, I fit right in! I'd never been as content as I was that semester. Sigh.

  17. i love the idea of learning lessons from other cultures. and the chocolate and churros look so good right now!!

  18. i love this idea girl! adore your blog by the way xo

  19. That sounds a bit of a magical experience!! I love Spain, I just think Mediterranean people know how to live! From what I have seen they seem to work just so they can support their family, and still have lots of time to see them, whereas we seem to work to make a bazillion pounds which we do not really need!

  20. Gorgeous post, Hannah :) I'm so glad you brought this one out of the archives!

    I've never had to the opportunity to travel to a different country & be fully immersed in a different culture, but when I watch certain movies or read blog posts such as this one, my heart aches for the beauty & peace of a slower-paced day. To be free to focus on & fully love every single moment... instead of the continual rush to the "next mile-marker"...How American culture craves this balance amidst the hustle-bustle!

  21. love churros con chocolate. i, too, learned the same lesson in spain. such a wonderful place to visit and relax in.

  22. I'm pretty sure that, in the 5 years I took Spanish, "Chocolate Con Churros" was one of the most talked about foods/subjects, ha! I need to try it.. I need to go to Spain!