Lest you think that all we’re doing here is eating like pigs and becoming serious wine-o-holics, I thought it was about time to talk a little bit about work.

When I first tell people that I spend several months a year in Spain, of course they assume that means vacation.  Sitting on the beach, sipping Piña Coladas and working on my tan.  This is Spain,  so wouldja quit thinking Mexico, already?  I imagine you could find a Piña Colada, but you´d have to work at it.

I suppose I could attempt to paint a picture of how tough it is to be living 15 minutes’ walk from the Mediterranean, but we both know that wouldn’t work.  So instead let’s talk about what reality looks like, and what the real challenges are — fluffy as they may seem.

It’s all about the schedule.  In Colorado the alarm clock goes off at 5:45 a.m. for a targeted 6:00 a.m. drag out of bed.  I’m one of those weird people who hates to get up early, but I function at my best in the morning. When I’m in Spain, though, it’s important to work in the evening, because of the time difference with the U.S.  (P.S. if you’re one of my clients reading this, don’t worry – read on.)

In Spain, the rhythm is completely different.  The vast majority of people here would have heart failure if you told them that they have to set the alarm for anything earlier than 7:30 a.m.  Let’s run thru a fairly typical Spaniard’s day — and yes, of course there are exceptions:

7:45 – 8:15 a.m.  Get up, make coffee, maybe have a piece of toasted crusty bread with grated tomato, maybe add a little cheese — definitely drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt  (sorry, had to sneak the food part in there).  Morning routine – maybe exercise, do some small house chore, take a lesiurely shower and get dressed.

10:00 a.m.  Arrive at work

11:30-ish  Coffee break.  Get your purse / wallet and walk down the street to a “bar.”  Forget American bars — I’ll explain another day.  Have a strong espresso or latte style coffee, but not half  ‘a gallon like at Starbucks.  This is actually a defined snack time in Spain, called “almuerzo.”  (There are, traditionally, 5 times each day to eat.  Now you know my real secret for coming here.)

11:50-ish  Back to work

1:45 – 2:00p.m.  Close up shop and go home for lunch.  Eat a hearty lunch — this is the customary time of day to eat paella (but not every day, of course).  Only tourists eat paella at night. Lots of lunch options here.  We´ll talk. And drink wine.  There´s no taboo about drinking at lunch.  Oh!  And if you’re home for lunch, you probably change into your sweats and flip-flops.

3:00-ish  Siesta.  I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it.

4:00 p.m.  Wake up, put your work clothes back on, and leave for work.

8:00 p.m.  Done for the day.  Go back home and hang out with the family. Or meet friends for a drink, or whatever.

10:00 p.m.  Dinner — usually lighter than lunch

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.  Bed time, if it’s a school day tomorrow.  If not, feel free to stay up til the sun comes up and sleep in the next day.

Weekends, of course, are a little different, but meal times remain the same — or get shifted a little bit later.

So What’s The Problem?

Don’t cry for me, Argentina.  It just takes my mind a few days to adapt.  So instead of hopping out of  bed (well, OK, I don’t hop) at 6a.m. and pushing hard til I’m done, now I have to slow down.  I have to change my mindset.  Find a new rhythm, and be OK with going and doing things during the day and then coming back, resting when I’m tired (aka siesta) and then getting back to work for a few hours in the evening.

The point of all this is that, although the adjustment is sometimes tough, the results are great.  I’ve realized that shaking up the schedule from time to time is actually a really good thing.  It makes me look at things differently and prioritize in a new way.  It gives me time to have a relaxed coffee break with friends, or a long, lazy lunch by the sea.  And even drink a glass of cold Verdejo in the middle of the day.  Then I go take a siesta and wake up refreshed and completely ready to finish a project or two.

It’s a tough job, but….