Friends and neighbours

Of course you should never generalise - and I guess a lot of what I am about to say will be true about Spaniards generally and not just those who live here in Jumilla – however these are my observations about our Spanish friends and neighbours. 

1.  They are direct and blunt, to the point of being almost rude.  They see our dog Lisa and tell us she is gorda.  Our little dog isn’t fat, we tell them, she’s just well-built.  She has big bones.  At least it keeps me on my toes and ensures I don’t over-indulge: I don’t want them turning round and saying that I am gorda the next time they see me!  They also want to know how much money we paid for our house.  No beating about the bush, just a direct request to tell them how much dinero we handed over when we bought it.  John and I don’t mind this, maybe because we are both northerners (I’m from the northeast of England and he is Scottish) so we are used to people speaking their minds.

2.  They are very helpful and caring.  Not long after we moved into our apartment our trastero (storeroom) was broken into and some items were stolen.  One neighbour we hardly knew offered to drive us to the Guardia Civil to report the robbery, and then said she would wait with us there.  Another neighbour whom we had never met before rang our doorbell, said how sorry he was to hear about the break-in, and then said we were welcome to keep our remaining belongings in his trastero until our door had been replaced.

3.  Jumillanos are very friendly and chatty.  Whenever we walk down the road, children will call out Hola or sometimes Hello, and the adults will also greet us and ask us how we are or comment about the weather.   I guess it helps that we have a dog, as we now know all the other dog owners in the area.  Now when they see us without Lisa they ask us where she is.  If they aren’t close enough to speak, for example on the far side of the road, they will call across and wave to us.  If they are in a car they will toot their horn until we see them and wave back.  Sometimes they will stop their car on a crossing so that we can have a conversation.

4.   Jumillanos love to party and don’t need much of an excuse to have a celebration.  In Spain you don’t just celebrate your actual birthday, you also celebrate your saint’s day.  I like that idea, especially since I discovered that August 11th is the feastday of St Susanna, so I don’t have too long to wait.  We had a party with our neighbours for the inauguration of  our apartment block and another one for the anniversary of the inauguration.  We invited them to our apartment for a party to celebrate the launch of my book.  We live in the barrio of San Juan, so obviously we have a good time during the Fiestas de San Juan, with several days’ partying.  August though is one of the best months for fiestas, with the Fiesta de la Vendimia, Fiesta of the patron saint of Jumilla (Our Lady of Assumption), National Folklore Festival plus Moors and Christians festivities.

Spanish friends and neighbours at the fiesta for my book launch

5.  Jumillanos aren’t too worried about punctuality.  Today we showed a group of about fifty people from San Pedro de la Pinatar around Jumilla.  We had arranged with the town hall for the castle to be opened at 11.00, as it is usually only open at weekends.  We waited outside the castle gates in the coach, looking at our watches a bit anxiously, as it was 11.00 and nobody was around.  A couple of minutes later a car stopped beside us and a man got out, brandishing a large bunch of keys.  He noticed the group leader looking at his watch and smiled as he said: “A las once!”  By now it was five past but as far as he was concerned he was there by 11.00.  Personally I was amazed that he had arrived that early, as the majority of events here start at least 30 minutes later than advertised.

6.  Jumillanos are very proud of their city.  When a local wine shop had a wine tasting evening: Rioja vs Jumilla, we weren’t at all surprised that everybody voted for the Jumilla wines.  We like the local wines, and they have won many medals, but a couple of the wines from Rioja were very good as well.  A couple of other people said the same, but when it came to the vote, Jumilla won.  The greatest compliment that we have been paid since moving here is to be called Jumillanos, and to know that we have been accepted as one of the vecinos (neighbours).

So where do you live?  What are your neighbours like?  Please leave your answers below, but nothing too libellous please!

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  1. Patricia’s avatar

    Hello Sue:

    Yes. I like that about the Spanish : they are direct and blunt. And caring and kind, and honest people in the main. (despite the vilifaction of them on the forum LOL). I would say: a very pragmatic people.
    Since coming to Spain decades ago, I have worked with and for Spanish people. I have no complaints. Being Irish is an advantage. We have a lot in common with the Spanish.


  2. Sue Walker’s avatar

    Hello Patricia

    Thanks for your comments. We have had so many really positive experiences since moving to Spain, and very few negative ones. I think living inland helps, as there aren’t many other British people around, so we are lucky enough to have many good Spanish friends and neighbours. Our British friends who live in the area say exactly the same. Pragmatic is very apt, from our experiences here. Times are tough with the “crisis”, but Spanish people are prepared to work hard and hope to ride out the storm. John is Scottish, by the way. I have Scottish blood from my mother’s side of the family and possibly Irish too!


  3. peter & ellian mckinlay’s avatar

    hi Sue, as you probably know by the name we are Scottish too, we have lived in Rojales now for 3 years and love it, we went to a wine tasting event in Jumilla a couple of months ago and had a great time, thats when we heard about your festival in August and we were their at the weekend 30 of us stayed at the monreal hotel, must bring our Scottish friends next time. Peter

  4. Sue Walker’s avatar

    Hi Peter

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourselves – we look forward to meeting you with your Scottish friends. John is the Scottish one, though I was told that my great-grandmother was Scottish, so hope that counts!