The British for their sense of humour and fairness (oh boy do we need them these days) The Italians for “La Dolce Vita”, The French who object to anything that is not French and the Spanish for Manaña.
As with every trait, until you actually live in that country and experience the lifestyle, it is difficult to understand the reasons why, and consequently leaves you deficient in how to deal with it.
Having lived in Spain now for the best part of 18 years, the mist has finally started to clear and understanding how and why the Spanish behave as they do starts to become a little clearer. Before I go any further let me explain that understanding does not necessarily lead to an easier life but can prevent you from going crazy!
Within the Spanish language, locally there are certain phrases which when spoken to the unsuspecting recipient, usually the ex-pat, kindly give a warm wave of reassurance and contentment
“Tranquilo no passe nada” relax everything will be fine
“No preocupes” do not worry
“mas o menos” more or less and of course “manaña”
Given these phrases, you are totally reassured that your concerns are now safely in the hands of a friend, who will take care of everything, and resolve the matter; however, this is not necessarily true.
Again I must qualify by saying that when these phrases are issued, the good intent is there, however as with a poor golf swing, the follow-through is what lets it down.
When we were having renovations done to our house, Julio the builder would always reassure me that “Proxima Lunes” next Monday everything would be sorted.
One day after many weeks I said to him
“I would like a week of Mondays”
” Que”? he replied and when I explained he looked and then gave me a wry smile.
The important thing to remember is there is never any malice or intent to mislead, only a need to give some breathing space and allow the pace of life to continue as normal.
“Mas o Menos “more or less is another pearl. It allows the speaker to again confirm that for instance, the price quoted, the date for finishing, the time of arrival is so but if not, then there is no blame because it was a suggested or implied guarantee but not definite.
How can you get angry, it is such a perfect get out, the politicians could use it! The important thing to remember is once you are aware of the system, then you can allow for it and even use it to your advantage. Making a joke as they give you their reassurance puts you in the game, so if you agree “mas o menos” then you are on the team and can request a little more urgency.
Manaña does actually happen sometimes and when it does, it restores your joy in living in such a wonderful country.
You have to admire the Spanish, certainly outside of the major towns as they do live a life, relatively stress-free. Morning break at 10 am. Lunch at 2 pm followed by a siesta and the evening is generally left to muse on the day.
We may scoff and moan but who has got it right?