There’s really no contest when it comes to a Spanish lifestyle. Forget time obsessed Germans, workaholic Brits, Scandinavians spending half a year in the dark and snow. Spain has lifestyle just right with siesta and mañana.
Other nations may mock a country where afternoons are spent in slumber and repose. But, trust me, don’t knock it until you have tried it. Even Spanish people will try to claim that siesta is now a thing for the elderly. If that is so, and I very much doubt this, as shops, banks and services in Spain all cease for a lengthy afternoon sojourn, I am content to be classed as elderly to embrace this lifestyle.
A perfect siesta. A perfect lifestyle
So what constitutes the perfect siesta? Firstly, it doesn’t have to include a coma like sleep. In fact, it might just be quiet, personal time, possibly lay down on the bed, emptying the head of work, stress, noise and social media. I’ve paid good money, and spent many an hour, for a British counsellor to suggest I adopt something similar in UK to prevent my heart racing with stress and suppress the murderous thoughts that I have towards my co-workers.
Here in Spain there’s no need to employ a lifestyle coach to advise on something that is patently obvious. Saving some time to concentrate on me isn’t selfish: it is necessary for mental well being. No wonder the Spanish population are near the top when it comes to longevity.
Cold, dark, work obsessed Northern Europe often cite a Mediterranean diet as the reason why the Spanish people live to a decent old age. Well it has to be something miraculous given the tendency in Spain to drink red wine and spirits daily and to smoke profusely.
However much I stuff my face with the so called Mediterranean diet in UK, nourishing my knackered body with extra virgin olive oil drizzled peppers, tomatoes, red onions and seafood, I still feel lethargic and dull. This is because in the UK, I have no revitalising siesta! Instead I have a 35 minutes lunch punctuated with requests from managers for things still to be done.
In UK, I am a weekend siesta person. In Spain, it will become a daily routine. I cannot wait!
For some Brits in Spain, mañana seems to be the only Spanish word they learn. Then their knowledge of this concept is scathing, cynical and inaccurate. They assume that because the workforce of Spain does not immediately jump into action at the sight of a memo, demand or request, they are lazy. This is actually very far from the truth. The people of Spain can and do work tremendously hard. They just understand the need for balance.
Frustration or feasible?
If you cannot embrace a lifestyle where the concept of no rush is paramount then maybe Spain isn’t for you. It just takes some getting used to. I remember feeling frustration in a bank just after I’d moved to Spain for the first time. I’d left myself a tiny window of time to complete a transaction and get to work. I was third in line. The odds seemed good.
However, I had not accounted for the cashier knowing the customer at the till. Moreover, she had a new born. Suddenly, the cashier had left her post and joined the lady and baby in the queue. There was hugging, embracing and general cooing. Time passed. My frustration grew. But no death stares, tapping on my watch or deep meaningful sighs we’re going to alter this scenario. I just had to suck it up!
Time and experience have taught me well. In Spain, small windows of time are just silly. Consider the time taken to complete a task in UK and treble it…or more. Acknowledge that if your location has a Feria, Saint’s Day or any type of fiesta, give up on any type of service. Your siesta refreshed body needs to be outdoors. There you can dance, drink wine and have tremendous fun with your bank teller, plumber and lawyer.
All jobs can wait until mañana.