There are people who might say where we live in the very center of Galicia is backwards. That people are simple, and that life is even simpler. But I would posit that there is something entirely different going on here.
Where we come from, life moves quickly. And in the US, time is money. So it only makes sense that faster might equal prosperity. If, how you measure prosperity is in dollars and cents. But, our yard sticks have changed, now that we no longer live in the US. Or even in a larger Spanish city like Valencia. What we value now isn’t showy or shiny.
The other day we were talking to our friends over lunch. They are Melide born and bred. They were telling us how their phone number growimg up was number 66. So few people had telephones when they were teenagers that they were on a switch board where the operator would connect your call. Then, she might listen in to your conversation and tell other people in town all your secrets. Like The Andy Griffith show in the 1950’s and 60’s in the US. Mind you, these are people who are our age. So this was going on in the 70’s and 80’s in Spain. And there are still hold overs from that bygone era.
And speaking of a bygone era, I am now convinced that if you just wrote my name on an envelope, and a local zip code (maybe not even mine) the letter or box or bazooka would find it’s way to my house. And I know this because we have yet to receive a piece of mail with the correct address. Often, the post master at our local Correos (Post) office writes instructions to the letter carrier across the front of envelope in pen. ‘The white house near xyz’. Although, that’s happening less and less. He must have a post-it with our names on it over his sorting machine. Or just over his desk.
Our letter carrier knows us now, too. We wave to each other. And I know she knows us because yesterday I opened the box and my Tarxeta Sanitaria (Public Medical Care card) showed up in the post. I’ve had to carry the big piece of paper they give you when you register at the health center around with me in my plastic folder to check into Dr appointments, go to get meds at the farmacia, etc. waiting for the card to arrive in the mail. The envelope had my name, zip-code, a village name I had never heard of, and (LUGO) in bold letters. Sure, we live in Lugo province, but it’s a big place. No house number. No street number. Nothing.
I opened it up and came in to show Jeff. He got his last week. We still had the paper from his card. It had a completely different address.
When we moved here, nearly three months ago, this is the kind of thing that would have made me crazy. Why can no one get our address correct? But not now. Part of living in a place like this is the homey feeling that you are part of the community. And that you are seen. Unlike in a city, you matter to the fabric of this small community, just like everyone else.
And time is different here, too. Yes, emails are delivered at the same speed as they are the world over, but replies will come when they come. And I’m starting to be OK with that. In my previous incarnation, I would shoot off an email and expect an almost immediate response. And if I didn’t get one? What is taking them so long?! Are they asleep?! Even in Valencia I operated on this premise. But no more. My American sensibility has waned. And, I’ve discovered, I can take as long as I want to respond to other people’s emails, WhatsApp messages, texts, without causing offense. It’s kind of nice. And sometimes they have to ping me again, to remind me. This is such the antithesis of my personality for 50 + years that I hardly recognize myself.
It’s not like we are laying around doing nothing. We have plenty to do here. It’s just that the pace and priorities have changed. Some might say they’re more aligned with the tides and the seasons. Perhaps I’m learning the value of patience. Which is pretty much my overarching life lesson this time around.
When we moved from Valencia, even Spaniards would say ‘Why would you want to move there?’ But I’m pretty sure that, after living here for the past three months, these rural Gallegos are bloody brilliant. They’ve outfoxed everyone, everywhere. They aren’t stressed out or freaking out about anything. Things will get done. In their own time. They can sit in their homes at night and watch American tv. An unhealthy portion of neurosis and stress in dramas and comedies famous throughout the world. And then they can turn it all off and smile. Knowing that when it comes to the good life, simpler is better. And here in the center of Galicia they’ve cornered the market on the good life. But shhh 🤫 , don’t tell anyone. We Gallegos, want to keep it that way. 😉