Spain is the promised land of cheap and plentiful vino. Everyone makes it, everyone sells it, and almost everyone gets completely shit faced falling down drunk on it. The homemade stuff should come with a warning label to the effect of “Please be advised, anyone who uses this product may experience pissing blood, shitting pieces of ones liver, and the melting of one’s eternal soul”. Drinking and smoking rank well above soccer and bullfighting as national pastimes, although most watch the latter while indulging the former.
This is a country that loves to party like no where else, and any excuse will do. You can usually find the local priest tipsy by 11:00am, oh wait, that’s everywhere,…never mind. These guys can make American and British lager louts look downright tame. Whereas we might have some drinks and play pool, darts, or even beer pong, they will start at 6:00am, and going all day proceed to run through the streets of Pamplona being chased by hundreds of 1800lb pissed off beasts with horns. For seven days in a row. On spring break we might party for seven days straight but we’re college age, they do it here until their mid 80’s. It’s no wonder that an old, fat, and tragically alcoholic Hemingway loved it here so much.
I had to take a bus trip (to rent a car) once and never will I do that again. It’s scary enough trying to navigate these steep, serpentine, mountain roads (with out guard rails). Doing it in a huge bus with a reckless and drunken driver is even more fun. One hour into the two hour journey the driver stops for a rest break. Mind you he didn’t announce anything, just stopped, opened the door and got out. Given that I have the continence of a 93 year old woman I hopped out and followed only to find our trusty driver doing two shots of brandy and one of espresso. That’s actually how most people drink all day and night around here. The legal limit for DUI is an intervenes drip of vodka with a cocaine straw hanging out your nose. I did wear my seatbelt the rest of the way.
Every morning when I go to get my daily loaf of crusty bread, the bar is filled with cops, plumbers, teachers, housewives, anybody and everybody. All happily drinking their morning brandy and smoking their cigarettes. Most bakeries are also bars, actually almost everything is also a bar. That’s one of the first, coolest things I noticed coming here three years ago for vacation, was that EVERY supermarcado is also a bar. The wives do not have to nag to get their husbands to go shopping here.
The bars do not shut down here like they do back home. When I first moved here and still drank that really did my head in. When you are subconsciously expecting last call and it never comes, it’s easy to end up staying out until five or six am. Everyone does that here though and then rest,…repeat. Ad Infinitum.
It’s just the same as everywhere else in that after a few too many the real fun starts. Then come the arguments, drama, fights, staggering, puking, and passing out. Going into a town the morning after a major fiesta, it’s not at all uncommon to find several normally respectable men lying in the street after a ‘good’ night. Alcohol does provide us with the wonderful pleasure of slipping down the evolutionary scale a few notches. This allows us to become one with our ever attractive animal underside. Always being ruled by emotion rather than intellect, which always works out so well.
It’s cosmically ironic that a couple months after moving here I decided to do myself a favor and quit drinking and smoking. Oh well, so much for the promised land.