Oviedo is a strange, contradictory place I am beginning to suspect. On the one hand, everyone lives in town in an apartment so that they can walk to and from work. And they also love the social aspect of walking everywhere, so that they can bump into their friends, see people and be seen. But then, they all have cars (even though no apartments come with parking) and drive to big shopping centres in the middle of town, centres similar to those we have in the suburbs, such as Marion or Castle Plaza. And at 6pm you can often be stuck in a very unpleasant traffic jam.
Similarly, for a “pedestrianised” people they can be appallingly bad at taking care when pedestrians are on the road. I carry the details of all three of my travel and health insurance policies on my person anytime I step out onto the house. There are zebra crossings at nearly every single intersection but I still haven’t quite got the courage to trust the drivers will give way to me. (This is also partly because I am only just this week getting the hang of looking to my left for oncoming traffic when I cross the road.)
Asturias is also a region known for its cows and dairy products. Yet, milk here comes as UHT and cheese is made from a mix of cow and sheep milk (it has a strong flavour but fortunately it is no match for my Vegemite which overpowers it completely!)
Since coming here I have also found that any native English speaker is in demand for giving private English lessons. So why, one must ask, do they insist on dubbing every single English-language television program and film into Spanish? They could instead use subtitles and give the many, many English students a chance to listen to genuine accents, and in the process improve their own.
So far Spain still seems a contrary country (for instance, I know they have great food and like eating it, but when, oh when, do they eat it?!) But I love it. I love having to buy fresh bread every two days because my “barra” (like a baguette) is starting to go stale and no self-respecting household in Spain can be without bread. I love that even though my milk is UHT it proudly says it is “leche asturiana” (Asturian milk) on the carton. I love going out for a walk and seeing half of the city’s population out doing the same thing.
On that positive note, I hope you all enjoy your Monday mornings, while in Spain we cling a little longer to Sunday night.