La economía de las palabras

We were told Granadans have a reputation around Spain for being rude. To be sure, at first glance (or first listen), they may not say much to you.

Turns out, it’s not rudeness; it’s that they are very economical in word usage.

  • Greetings are often just “Buenos,” assuming you can tell if they mean Diaz (morning) or Tardes (afternoon) by the sun’s position on your own.
  • Goodbyes can be merely “Hasta;” who knows when we will see each other again?

The ubiquitous response to “Hablas Ingles?” (“Do you speak English?”) is “A little,” which, in Granada, narrows it down to somewhere from that phrase being all they know, to their having studied English for years and already can tell by the inflexion in your voice you don’t use the Oxford comma when listing things.

Then there’s the all-purpose word, “Vale.” It can mean anything from “OK,” to “Yes!”, to “We’re done here.” I have seen conversations for minutes where one person just repeats it and still holds up their end of the conversation, like “I am Groot” but 67% more efficient.

Still, the best example so far was when Jiab and I walked into a cafe for lunch. As we entered, a waiter turned and looked at us. We waited for him to greet us or ask us how many. Instead, he stared for what seemed like a full minute and then said, “Well, what do you want?” If they hadn’t had a great menu del dia (daily lunch special), we would have walked out.

Turns out we were lucky. By the end of the meal, he was making great recommendations of good wine to go with our cod in tomato/basil sauce as well as a sumptuous lesser-known local dessert. We explained we were relocating there and he was the first to welcome us to Granada and said to be sure to come back.

First lesson of Granada: when there’s good people and good food, don’t let words get in the way.



In every locality, there is some artist or visionary that one must never, ever, question their talent or suggest that someone did it better.

In Mississippi, it’s Elvis (even more than Faulkner).
In Dallas, it’s Stevie Ray Vaughn.

IN Granada, it’s a man whose name must be uttered in almost a hushed undertone of respect, as if one is not worthy to invoke him.


A Tale of Two Kitties, part 1: Cats love chasing paper; humans, not so much.

We are self-admitted cat-crazed people. When our sons were young, we made a family plan in case of fire. We laid out exit routes with the plan to rally at the mailbox to make sure everyone was safe. Our boys asked about the cats, to which we assured them Jiab and I would make sure … Read moreA Tale of Two Kitties, part 1: Cats love chasing paper; humans, not so much.

Of consulates, visas, and bureaucracy (a first encounter)

Spanish Consulate Houston

  Palmer, Ennis, Alma, Rice. “Huh,” I think, “Their first letters spell PEAR.” Such are the kind of inane musings one has looking at the names of small Texas towns between Dallas and Houston…at 5:00 am…for the third time in 2 days (and with one more trip back to go). Jiab and I are tired, … Read moreOf consulates, visas, and bureaucracy (a first encounter)