You know you're in Andalusia when...

by La Sevillana /
La Sevillana's picture
Feb 05, 2009 / 1 comments

...your gym has a 25 ft long bar located at the front door - with Cruzcampo, the local beer, on tap.

I first traveled to Spain as an undergrad after having begun dating a Spaniard who found adapting to America impossible and could think of nothing but returning. I quickly decided that I'd probably adjust to life in Spain much more readily than my fiancée would ever adjust to America and agreed -- site unseen -- to move there after the wedding. I later settled on Andalusia as the field site for my Ph.D. research, speeding up the moving process by a few years, and dragging along the cat (that's her down there on the left, adapting well to the "siesta" culture). The cat: Adapting well to the siesta cultureIn re-locating from Illinois to Andalusia, I've given up endless fields of corn and beans for groves of olives, lemons, and oranges...okay, admittedly not much of a sacrifice. But it hasn't all been late nights at tapas bars and long, lazy afternoon siestas. There are other aspects of life here that haven't been so great, especially when you have a goal to accomplish within a specific timeframe, such as a research project. These have included passive-aggressive research participants, an overly-bureaucratic, well, everything, that mañana attitude that makes scheduling interviews a 4-6 week long process of endless negotiation...

I'll assume that, as educators, those who've found their way here will have enough familiarity with the world to already know that Spain is not located south of Texas, and therefore spare you the "Spain is not Mexico" diatribe that many of us here often find ourselves reduced to. Nevertheless, there are a few basics about Spain and Andalusia that you may not know that will help orient you to the country, the region, her people, and this blog.

Olive groves Neat fact #1: Spain produces 44% of the world’s olive oil. Much of the olive oil exported from Italy has been processed from olives grown in Andalusia.

You should know that Andalusia (Andalucía), situated on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, is one of 15 autonomous communities in Spain. While Spain became a member of the European Union in 1986, and possesses a robust economy, this wealth is not distributed evenly throughout the country, and income by household varies widely by region, with Andalusia being one of the poorest regions. Nevertheless, even during the current economic downturn, referred to here as "la crisis," stores and tapas bars keep busy, and we haven't experienced the massive closings that the U.S. has. 

Scene from Triana

Andalusia has a distinctive character that is recognized world-wide. If when you think of Spain you think of flamenco, tapas, paella, Moorish architecture, bullfights and polka dotted dresses, well, you don't know Spain. In short, what many of us have always affiliated with "Spain" is actually more descriptive of one region: Andalusia.

Neat fact #2: Spain possesses the larges wine vineyards in the world, exceeding in size those of France. ¡Olé!

The observations that will be reflected in my monthly posts arrive from a particular perspective - that of a cultural anthropologist in the field. For that reason, they won't be so much about all the beautiful places I've visited or all my exciting adventures. Think of them as electronic fieldnotes that I'm going to share. With much of the boring anthro-speak, thankfully, edited and replaced by photos. Coming in March...Survival Guide to Andalusian Tapas Bars.


Comments (1)

  • Ed Forteau

    15 years 4 months ago

    Sounds like an exciting place to put down roots! looking forward to learning more. Thanks! 


    Ed Forteau


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