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Drinking - A social event
In our seven years in Spain, we have learnt that socialising and drinking play a big part in the Spaniard’s lifestyle, yet I have yet to see anyone even slightly inebriated.
This socialising happens at the strangest of gatherings and at the strangest of times and, even where there seems to be a lot of people involved, the police don’t seem to feel the need to be present.
Take last Saturday as an example, when Hubby and I went in search of some exterior paint.
In a little village, we found a small shop - what in England is referred to as a 'corner shop'. When we went inside, we found that the little shop extended into the property next door, where the DIY enthusiast could buy most things and, if the man working there didn't have what you wanted, he soon would have. The customers already in the shop were chatting away to the man and woman behind the counter and, at the same time, were drinking lager, which had been served over that very same counter.
Did they need a licence to sell alcoholic drinks? I very much doubt it. Journeys such as these are like social outings, where the people who live in the villages go out, simply to catch up on events, enjoy the chat and, while they’re there, have a social drink.
Similarly with their fiestas (parties), the yearly village get-togethers may stretch from Friday night to Sunday night, the Friday being the 'pancetada (bacon butty night)' and the nights of Saturday and Sunday billowing out Spanish music from the groups hired for these evenings. At these fiestas, all ages are present - babies in pushchairs to great grandparents. No-one gets drunk.
These fiestas are an integral part of people’s lives, for it is when all of the people in the villages, and their children that may be living in other parts of Spain, come together to exchange what is happening for them, to dance in the field where the music is being played and to drink a little. Recently, we set off at 10.30 p.m. to enjoy one of these Saturday nights and, on asking someone for directions to the location, we were told that it was far too early to be going there, as it wouldn't really have started yet!
The music for that evening went on well after we had left at 2.30 a.m. and families with their babies in pushchairs would have been there long after we had gone.
Today, we popped into the nearest town to buy a couple of things then went into a bar, for a quick drink. Upon our trying to pay, the barman indicated that the elderly gentleman at the far end of the bar had paid for our drinks. We didn't know who he was but, upon our thanking him, he replied "Why not? We're neighbours".
But who was he? We’re going to have to work out where we’ve seen his face before … .
When Spanish families go into bars or restaurants late at night, they often have their young children with them. After all, here in Spain, socialising is a family affair. And, as Spaniards tend to keep late hours, so do their children.
Now, there’s no arguing with that, is there?
I only wish we could keep up with them … .
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