Monday, October 19, 2009

The Best Cure for Homesickness

I envy my friends from the U.K. or elsewhere in Europe. Normally, it's just a few hours to fly back home where they can spend a long weekend visiting family and friends. In fact, if I were to change one thing about Spain it'd geographical and shrink the Atlantic, but I can't, so it's usually a fourteen hour trip back to the west coast every one or two years.

Why do I wish home was closer? Well of course, it'd be to see friends and family with more regularity and catch up. Also, I think no matter how integrated a person is in their adoptive land, there are still things they miss from home - a favorite restaurant, dish or even a smell. In my case, it's In-and-Out, corn beef hash and a freshly cut lawn.  More than anything it feels good to be home.

But being back also reminds me why I chose to live in Spain. Every second commercial is for a pill with depression and penile dysfunction being the most common, making me wonder what's causing people to be so sad and impotent. Ten days vacation is the average and it's to be taken throughout the year.  Drinks with friends have to be short and sweet now that we're sensible adults and don't drink drive. You need a car to go everywhere and there are more of them making traffic horrendous.  Even customs - like tipping - seem strange and hypocritical when it's now up to two bucks a beer and still nothing at McDonalds.

All these grievances or situations don't appear in Spain. By law pharmaceutical advertisements are regulated, meaning there are less ailments in need of a pill.  There's at least a month of holidays, plus local fiestas and bridge-days; the day before or after a public holiday depending on when the weekend is. Drinks with friends last until the end of the conversation thanks to public transportation and a car is to be rented for weekend excursions, saving on the monthly cost of payments, insurance, gas and parking/speeding tickets. Sure Spanish service is slow and surly but at least there's not a twenty percent surcharge in the form of a tip and the tax is included in the price on the menu.

Basically, every time I come back from the states, my decision to come to Spain feels vindicated. Is it paradise? No, but neither is Fiji during hurricane season. Is it the country I imagined? No, but that's not bad necessarily either. Do I enjoy every day? No, but I doubt there's anywhere that I will given my temperament. Is it better than the alternative? Yes, in my opinion, but I'm an aging slacker.


  1. The urban sprawl of North America, the culture of workaholism and rampant advertising is tiring. One thing i don't miss about BCN is constantly checking that my wallet is still there so I guess everything comes with a price. Also I do find Canadians and Americans more friendly than the Catalans although this probably is different when you live there like any big city that gets alot of tourists. You seem to have pretty good reasons for living there. I think probably the most horrible place I went to in BCN was the Kabul hostel which is an enclave of the American frat house party scene...

  2. Gotta comment on this! In-and-out burger rocks. Not because I specially like burgers, just because it doesn't kill you after.