The mealtimes here in Spain are drastically different to what I’m used to. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m about to delve into more detail (sorry…).
So this week the twelve year-olds were learning to discuss their daily routine. If I hear “At seven o’clock I wake up” one more time I may self-combust, however, it has been quite interesting to discover just how different the Spanish schedule really is. Here in Zafra the students finish school at 2.30 and go home for lunch at around 3pm. They don’t eat dinner until at least 10pm, having had various sports or music lessons throughout the evening. Back in Britain shops may close at 5.30 and things begin to wind down, whereas here 5pm is considered mid-afternoon; everything re-opens after siesta and the evening is the busiest time.
This routine has definitely been a culture shock. It also makes you feel quite middle-aged when you’re returning home after an evening drink and you pass eight-year old Marta heading to her flute lesson. It’s particularly bizarre for me given that I eat earlier than the average British human anyway.
My first taste of this lifestyle actually came during my French exchange back in 2008 when my host family ate at 9pm. I can distinctly remember sitting in my strange French bedroom picking at the ancient remains of a Go-Ahead bar found in the depths of my suitcase (the yogurt coating had not aged well). It was a desperate moment.
A month has passed I’m slowly adapting. The key to holding out until 10pm is a late lunch and the school timetable already ensures this. Generally, a seriously hefty breakfast keeps me going until school finishes when I sprint home in hunger-induced excitement.