Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smoking, Siesta, and Sunrise

In Spain, three of the things that bother me the most are smoking, siesta, and the sunrise.

1) Smoking - Almost everyone here smokes. It is almost impossible to find a bar or restaurant that is smoke free. Last weekend I had to leave a bar because it was so smoky my eyes started watering. I have cordoned off a section in my closet for smoky clothes so that they do not contaminate the rest of my clothes. Every time I come back from a smoky place, I douse my clothing in Febreeze and hope the smell will go away. Worst of all, when I leave my school, I have to walk through a cloud of smoke from students and standing next to my students are the teachers smoking. I just want to remind everyone how bad smoking is for their health.
On a brighter note, I am feeling even better about my decision to live with American Fulbrighters because multiple Fulbrighters have been placed in difficult situations because they have been told their Spanish roommates do not smoke when in fact they do, thus forcing them to confront their roommates or possibly move to a smoke free environment.

2) Siesta - I love the concept of siesta and taking a break in the midday. However, the reason it drives me crazy is because there are no standard hours businesses are open. Some places such as banks open at 8:30 while others tend to open around 10. Some places close at two and remain closed all day while others reopen at five and stay open until eight and those that remain open for seista close at five or six. This makes it difficult to know when anything will be open and because I am teaching most of the day and have to run most of my errands during siesta or the early evening I end up wasting time going to closed shops.
Also, because everyone has different work schedules, I have found the best time to ride the metro on weekdays is between 10-12 in the morning. Any other time, the metro is somewhat crowded because people are constantly going to and from work and almost any hour can be considered the rush hour.

3) Sunrise - Sunrise is really late in Madrid. Right now, the sun does not rise until close 8:30. Therefore, when I get up, it is really dark and hard to get out of bed. I am nervous that I will not want to get out of bed in winter when the sunrise is even later. The reason the sunrise is so late is that Spain is on the same time zone as France, Germany, Italy, Hungry, Austria, Sweden, and Norway. However, Great Britain is one hour behind Spain even though it is more east than Spain.

As the map shows, it would make more sense for Spain to be on the same time zone of Great Britain. Although because the sunrises so late, sunset is really late as well which works with the Spanish time schedule. It does not feel like you are eating dinner that late (around 9)when the sun does not set until 8 pm.

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