There are some things in life that are very difficult. Some things that, no matter how inspiring the quotes are that you read, remain entirely impossible. And some things, that happen with no effort at all. Standing out as a foreign intern abroad in the South of Spain is one of them.
You may think I’m stating the obvious, but there are places in the world where foreign interns can blend in. Where a certain amount of confidence can get tourists asking you of all people for directions! You, who can’t tell izquierda from derecha! Sunny Andalucía is not one of those places.
While most of the stares you get will be out of mere curiosity, lust, or if you’re lucky, genuine interest, one place this is not likely to be true is the mecca of all humans, where interns must go at least once a week for mere survival: the supermarket. This is a very important excursion in many ways, because not only will you shock and awe every man, woman, and well-dressed little child, you will (if all goes well) get some food out of the deal too. Good, delicious, American foo- oh wait. That’s right. No good delicious, American food exists in about a 100 mile radius. That’s okay though. That’s not why you came abroad anyways. You came for the adventure. And so adventure you shall receive (with a side of cheese, olive oil, and ham. It’s one of the impossibilities of the universe to leave a Spanish supermarket without ham).
So where’s the shock and awe you ask?
Some people work their whole lives for shock and awe. They sell their babies or shave their heads or drive madcap off cliffs to come to an imminent death. You, my dear guiri, need only one thing. A completely normal, run of the mill, pair of shorts. And for it to be a mild, sunny March afternoon. The kind made for shorts-wearing.
Put on said pair of shorts, and take a gander to your nearest supermarket.
It is especially impressive if you walk through a particularly posh area of town. These people will be in boots and scarves until about June, when the sweat runs their makeup down their faces and they just don’t look like the porcelain dolls their mothers manufactured anymore. They’ll get a real kick out of you. (By which I mean, of course, they’re going to want to kick you. Luckily they’ll be wearing heels and the stilettos are bound to get caught in the cobblestones. You’re safe.)
Go about your normal shopping routine.
Go up and down every aisle. Back-track a time or two as well; this will show you which of the men following you are actually following you, and which of them merely “coincidentally” need everything you need. Don’t forget the ham.
When you check out, some of the workers who had been stocking in the same aisles as you (every aisle) may come to stand by the counter. Don’t be alarmed; their stocking is finished now and the checkout girl needs a lot of moral support. Your bare legs are not starring in some lewd fantasy involving olive oil, tuna, and ham. That’s just disgusting.
Hopefully you did not have any plans immediately following this shopping excursion - you won’t be home in time.
Spanish check-out people are not in a hurry. There might be 20 people in line, but this does not stress them out. They’re in Spain! Life is good. Life is slow.
When you do finally manage to finish your errands, you have the exciting task of walking home. During this, you will need to contend with both the shorts-wearing and the excruciating mortification of walking the streets with groceries. This is simply not done round these parts. How it is done, how groceries manage to get from the store to the table, will forever remain a mystery, because no self-respecting Sevillano will lug a bulging bag through the streets back to their piso. Perhaps it has something to do with home delivery, but you never needed to worry about that anyways. You’re a guiri. And today, you’re a guiri in shorts. Well done.