In Pamplona, Spain today the Festival of San Fermin, also known as the Running of the Bulls, had its first day of what else…running! For the next several days people will allow themselves to run along side massive animals with the possibility of being trampled or gorged to death. Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “The Sun Also Rises”, brought even more notoriety to the event, and people continue to flock annually to Pamplona from around the globe.
Watching the live coverage today reminded me of a trip my mother and I made to Spain several years ago. The Spanish lifestyle was something we had to get accustomed to you on our ten day voyage. By day eight we were still trying to figure out exactly what time Spaniards ate dinner and when they went to sleep.
Here in the States our routines are more regimented. Most people work from 8 to 5 with a one hour lunch. Typically an American worker has two to three weeks of vacation. There is a rush hour in most major cities in the morning and evening, and people work this routine Monday through Friday, week after week, months on end.
In Spain, however, work is treated in a more carefree, spirited fashion. Businesses open later in the morning, they close for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and then reopen in the evening before closing much later than our accustomed 5:00 p.m. closing time. The Spanish don’t seem to let time control them but rather the other way around. They enjoy their time with family and friends with late, evening dinners and frequent tapas bars.
In a tapas bar you let the waiter know what items should be brought to the table, or bar if you prefer to stand, along with a bottle of wine or sangria. Everyone shares the food and drink and pays little attention to the time. The Spanish simply enjoy life. They have a passion for food, wine, and people. The laid back atmosphere on that trip inspired me to do the following: find a great tapas restaurant in Houston (Mi Luna is a great one – see milunahouston.com), learn to make sangria, and slow down to enjoy life.