When you are in a different country to your own you expect that things will be different. To some extent you come prepared for different language, different food and different culture. But you know – it’s always the simple things that take you by surprise. Little everyday things that may leave you open-mouthed and exasperated even if you can see the funny side.
Recently we had a couple staying here for some weeks and so they were having more than the usual experience of ”How Things are Done in Spain”. She wanted to send letters back home to North America and needed stamps. So off she went to the Post Office. She asked for the appropriate stamps and was told they didn’t sell such stamps and she would have to go the Tobacconist! Amazed as she was, she obediently tootled off to the tobacconist and requested the same. With a sucking of the teeth and shrug of the shoulders they too told her that they didn’t have stamps for sending mail to North America – perhaps she should try the Bookshop/Stationers? She gave up! I must add at this point that this lady speaks fluent French, Spanish and has a smattering of Catalan so it was not a language problem! Anyway – a day or so later in another town she managed to acquire a couple of stamps and posted off her letters. A couple of weeks went by and she had a few postcards to send. She needed more stamps. This is her amusing email to me about her further attempts to buy stamps at our local Post Office:
“I must be a masochist, having decided to try my luck once again at the local Correos. Entering the building this morning, I was heartened to see that the surly clerk who had summarily dismissed my request for stamps that would carry postcards to Canada had been replaced by a new and friendlier face. Stepping up to the wicket, I hesitantly asked for three stamps for North America and was pleasantly surprised to see the clerk pull three stamps out of a large folder.