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Unwritten Rules of Living in a Spanish Village

Fines won’t be handed out for disobeying these norms but failure to comply definitely won’t go unnoticed. Here are some of the unwritten rules of living in a Spanish village.

Things work differently

Things tend to work a little differently in small towns and villages, including customs and social norms. Spain is no different and their villages have code of unwritten laws that are usually strictly adhered to. You won’t be punished or receive a fine for breaking any of these rules however they’re honoured because they have always been in place. It just comes with the territory.

No parking in places  where people hang out 

You may very well see some areas where neighbours set up chairs at sunset to enjoy the fresh air. Here you’ll have to imagine a yellow line. You won’t receive a fine but be prepared for the consequences if you provoke a mass migration of villagers with foldable chairs.

Cars do not have priority… ever

Playing pickup soccer on the street? The two manhole covers on the street often serve perfectly as goal posts. Children, in these cases, have priority over cars. The children whizzing around on their bikes also have priority over cars.

You must be able to locate all neighbours

If someone is about to tell you a story about “Pedro, the son of the butcher,” you must immediately interject before they can continue about something you know about him. Such as, “Yes, he married Maria, from the post office.” Failing to do so will result in poor conversation flow. The other person can only continue with what they were originally going to tell you about Pedro with this added comment. Alternately they may say something about Maria. You may never actually even hear the story of Pedro, but it doesn’t matter.

You must say hello

Okay, you don’t have to greet everyone, but almost everyone. A common ¿Que tal? (“What’s up?”) is not enough. You will also have to talk about how you’re doing, and maybe also talk about your family.

The elderly can always criticize your appearance

Anyone younger doesn’t have the right to respond. If you’re wearing shorts that are too long or pants that are too short you must be warned.

True villagers are born in the village

All others are foreigners. If you were born there will always be considered a part of the town even if you leave. If you weren’t born there however you will always be considered “the outsider.” After about 3 months though, you will be treated as one of their own.

 You have to find areas with a decent cell phone signal

Many villages are limited in the number of places from which cell phones work properly. You may just have to go directly to the house of the person you wish to speak with.

Respect kinship when flirting

Off limits are: committed couples, close relatives, and ex-girlfriends of the people in your social circle. So, if you’re single and find yourself living village life, it’s probably best to have a friend give you the lowdown first. If action is what you really seek, there are always fiestas in the other towns nearby.

Leave the door open

Who would rob you if you know everyone? If it’s cold outside, you do have the choice of leaving the door closed, with a key beneath the mat of course.

Diversify your purchases

Don’t pick favourites among the town shops. If there are two fruit markets in your village, divide your purchases between both of them. People may think there’s beef between you and the owners if you don’t.

There will be cult bands

A musical number could become a part of the City Hall agenda. The song may be played at the biggest celebrations year after year.

Hosting a Virgin Mary 

This is the closest thing to Airbnb. In many villages, in many cases weekly, a resident of the town accepts a virgin or saint. The saint occupies a prominent place in the house to be seen by all. It’s the host who pays for the guest in this arrangement and the accommodation arrangement doesn’t cause stress with the local government or neighbours.

You must preserve the urban legends of your village

You’ve probably heard that far-fetched story about what happened to that celebrity who came to your village. It may have been totally fabricated but you must continue to tell it.

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