The murmur from the streets slipped into the house as J and I stepped out under the stars. The soft orange light from the street lamps failed to mask the night sky completely. Under the glow the streets were awash with activity. Neatly dressed women glided by behind baby-carriages. Their laughter mingled with the boisterous discussions sounding out from the tables scattered about the main street. Savory food hissed on grills every few meters.
El Rompido glimpsed during the day looked like a ghost town—but as the cool air of the night began to settle in everyone spilled out of their homes and the village was reborn. Without fail I was amazed by the transformation of this small seaside village each and every evening.
In Canada I grew up near a village called Rosemary. It had a population of 342 people in 2011. It was/is tiny. However, every year on Canada Day people from the farms and towns all across the county flocked to this small village to celebrate. The main street would be blocked off from traffic and families would mingle all day there after the great big pancake breakfast.
Parked cars lined the streets every year and when they started to leave after the fireworks (best in the county) the stretch of headlights could be seen for kilometres and kilomtres. The influx was so extreme that one year special officers started to be placed at the two intersections leading out of town to help direct traffic flow.
El Rompido reminded me of Rosemary on Canada Day. They blocked their main street every night and filled it with tables, theatre and activities for the kids.
There was a raised platform with several restaurants and bars decorated with fairy lights. The space was designed to allow people to lounge in the evening ocean breeze. There were couches, hammocks and bean-bags under the open sky. Each evening J and I would wander up the main street to this stretch of bars, settle into a couch, order a cocktail each (cheaaaapppp) and dive into conversations about the universe and humanity while we stared at the stars.
It was a dream of a trip and I thought I’d share the things I took away from visiting Southern Spain and having a Spanish partner.
Here are ten tips to help you should you decide to visit Spain, date a Spaniard or heck, spice up your life anywhere in the world.
1) Nap during the day, mingle at night.
A Spanish day is too hot for hanging out in town. Most people I’m told go out in the early morning, nap in the afternoon and then socialize at night until 1 or 2 am. J gets sleepy around 2 pm even here in Scotland where it’s often the best time of the day. I’m always like: let’s go out!
J: What now? Are you crazy?
Me after opening a window: J…. This is not Spain.
J: … Right, but I’m sleepy. -_-
J: -_-… o_-… >_<… o_o… >_<… o_o ok let’s go.
2) Tapas (bar snacks) are the best invention/social insistence ever.
Drinks and tapas mean a long, fabulous night and many Spanish bars insist on people having them alongside drinks.
3) Speaking of drinks, if you want to look cool and locally savvy order tinto de verano—not sangría.
We couldn’t find tinto de verano (lemonade and red wine) on the bar menu at one place so J decided to order sangría (a red wine, fruit and brandy mix) which was actually written there. The waitress laughed and said, “sangría? Sangría is for tourists, why don’t you have tinto de verano?” J laughed too and replied, “Tinto de verano is much better! We’ll have that.”
4) Spanish people care about food. A lot.
It’s integral to socializing, perhaps even more so than drinking (unlike North Americans). People talk/party around food.
J once stopped talking to me for a week because I said her chilli tasted like soap.
I was only forgiven when J discovered that I wasn’t lying or making fun of the dish. There was in fact cilantro, or ‘coriander’ for you UK folk, in the dish and thanks to my genes—cilantro tastes like soap. Seriously. It does. It’s was so weird trying to describe the experience to J when he made me try the cilantro alone.
5) On an additional food note, Spanish markets feature a lot of raw ingredients.
They’re not terribly strong believers in pre-made food.
6) Religious icons are everywhere.
We saw images of saints of loneliness, of streets and of happiness. There was a saint for every situation you can think of.
7) Being able to drive is useful.
If you can drive you can visit a ton of neat places in the south of Spain, including slipping over to Portugal for some delicious (and cheap) crab.
8) Tobaccoists (tobacco sellers) are also the go-to place for postcard stamps.
The post office did not sell stamps for some reason (it was also only open for half an hour each day in El Rompido!). I had to mime my way to the tobacco shop to get the stamps haha!
9) Knowing the tide schedule is essential for a great day at the beach.
You’ll spend less time worrying about being sucked out to sea.
10) The rumours about Spaniards being great lovers is true.
Especially under an open starry sky.