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18 Things Everyone From Galicia Has to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Ana Bulnes May 29, 2015
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1. How should I eat this?

In front of you, on the plate, goose barnacles. Once you accept those weird sea hooves are actually eatable, the shyer ones will discreetly look around to see what locals do and try to imitate them as well as they can. The rest will look at the plate, and then look up and ask the question. This might also happen with oysters, small crabs, and other marine delicatessen.

2. The night is warm, why don’t we sleep on the beach?

What time is it? If it’s already 3 am, you’re on the beach, and the temperature is higher than 20ºC, two things could be happening. First, and most likely, you are not in Galicia. If you have checked and are sure that’s where you are, then go sleep on the beach. It’s the only day in the year when you’ll be able to do it. If it’s only 11 pm and your local friend keeps smiling and encouraging you to do it, while saying he would love to but can’t, abort the mission. At 1 you’ll be freezing.

3. Are those two women on TV Azúcar Moreno? Is it a rerun?

No, it’s not. What you are watching is Luar, a TV-programme trapped in an alternate time dimension. Don’t try to understand.

4. I’m going to try this coffee liquor. My friend’s granny made it, and she claimed it was really soft.

Galician grannies have a different concept of what a soft liquor is. You’ll find out when you open the bottle and feel you’re getting drunk only from the smell. You have to drink it, sure, but don’t make plans for tomorrow.

5. Why is the wine in a ceramic bowl?

That’s a cunca, a small Galician work of art you can drink any liquid from. Wine, soup, milk… why use different objects when this one is perfect for everything?

6. Why is there a bathtub in the middle of the forest?

We don’t know either. It might be a water trough for cattle (we are all about recycling in Galicia), but not necessarily. Do what we do -shrug your shoulders and keep walking. You could talk about feísmo (“uglism”), but it’s a sensitive topic and we prefer to discuss it among ourselves.

7. Why is it day if it’s already 11 pm?

It might be related to the fact that in Portugal, where you could get to by driving south a few km, it’s still 10 pm. And to the sun setting in the west, to Spain’s wrong time zone, etc. Check a map and you’ll understand.

8. This Padrón pepper is ok, not hot at all…

That’s part of the excitement! Some are hot, and some are not, that’s how Padrón peppers works. Just in case, try not to declare victory before the second bite. Some peppers take their time before making your tongue burn.

9. But if I want to go to Vigo from Lugo, I just take a train and will be there in an hour, right?

Oh, where to start. This could happen if, for starters, Galicia was a flat land and there were other things like, I don’t know, maybe a direct train from one city to the other. Traveling from Lugo to Vigo will take much longer than an hour, and you’ll probably use a different means of transportation (or you could go by train with one or two changes! so fun!). On the bright side, you’ll have plenty of time to think and enjoy our beautiful landscapes.

10. Isn’t the sea too cold to swim?

Really? How can you say that today with a water temperature of 19ºC? It’s really warm!

11. What’s that stain on my old-but-charming apartment wall?

Her name is Humidity and she will be your flatmate for the months or years you decide to live here. You could try to fight her with a dehumidifier, act as if she didn’t exist by painting the wall (you’ll see how she slowly reappears), or accept her presence and spend hours analysing her growth. Or you could move to a less charming apartment.

12. Why are you carrying a jacket? It’s 30ºC!

Never trust summer in Galicia. Never! Those 30ºC will disappear as the sun sets, and you’ll be thankful of having a jacket when the temperature drops to 17ºC.

13. Do you think I should wear sunscreen for my day in Cíes Islands? It’s not really sunny…

Cíes Islands are gorgeous, but also ruthless and dangerous. As if the islands were located just under an ozone hole, sunbeams will pierce your skin, leaving it red and sunburnt (even on cloudy days!). Unless you feel like changing your skin or, I don’t know, risk cancer, wear sunscreen. SPF 30 at least.

14. What are those square things over the sea?

Those are bateas, the place where those delicious mussels and oysters you have just eaten grow. No, not on the surface, they grow on ropes that you can’t see because they are underwater… do you know there are guided visits to see and understand them?

15. Where is my towel? Where is the beach? I was away only for a few hours…

Welcome to the world of tides! They go up and down several meters, eating up the beach or making it really big, perfect for a paddle ball match! An unwritten safety rule: don’t leave your towel on the wet sand area if you plan to be away. If you do it anyway, at least check a tide chart first!

16. How can I feel cold if the temperature is 20ºC?

That’s Humidity again, your flatmate, remember? She’s not only on your wall, she loves your bones too.

17. I’ve been told I’m “riquiño”. That’s a good thing, right?

Well… it depends. Let’s say it’s not necessarily bad, and it could even be good. But keep this in mind as well: people in Galicia are not ugly. They’re “riquiños”.

18. Will I really see Cervantes’ feet if I look down into the fountain?

Of course! Just do it…

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