What I hate about Spain!

What I hate about Spain!

Paul Whitelock has already written about the things he likes about living in Spain (Why I love living in Spain’s Serranía de Ronda), but what about what he doesn’t like? He can come up with just half a dozen things that get on his nerves, even after living here for 12 years.


Sometimes you get the impression that every politician and government official is corrupt. That may have been true once upon a time, but even now, at a lower level of corruption, you can often avoid paying IVA if you pay cash, including with lawyers, gestores or just by asking the provider of a service. How they get away with it defeats me, yet such people are often highly esteemed by large parts of the population.


Spanish red tape, el papeleo, drives us all mad, Spaniards and foreigners alike. Las cosas de palacio van despacio, say the Spanish, as if by giving the ponderous bureaucratic system an excuse, by way of a popular saying, that makes it acceptable. In the past year, for example, no one has managed to get Spanish residency or their TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) because the twenty-five thousand people whose job it is to sort out the paperwork have instead taken a disturbingly long lunch-break!

Some unfortunate people are forced to live in a house with no water or electricity for a number of years because of some elusive bit of paper trapped in the bottom of a filing cabinet belonging to a funcionario who has been off work with a bad back for the last five years!

I try and live with the system, since I love it here. Even though my German wife, the Meter Maid, hates HP Sauce and Marmite, and she has never had a Yorkshire pudding or a mushy pea, that’s okay. She doesn’t even like a nice cuppa, because English tea is black, and she only likes green tea or other fancy infusions, but never mind.


I’ve already written about this (Spanish Noise), as have writers like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Washington Irving, James Michener and Giles Tremlett.  The longer I am here, the less I notice the rushing train, the noisy traffic, the croaking frogs, the loud farm machinery and Spaniards talking loudly. But I cannot get used to barking dogs, especially at 4.00 in the early morning! It’s a fact that Spain is the second loudest country in the world after Japan.


The amount of litter lying around is astonishing. How can a proud nation like the Spanish wantonly ruin their beautiful country by tossing as much garbage into the countryside as is humanly possible? The beaches, the roadside verges, the streets and the public buildings are covered in debris. Everywhere is thick with plastic, empty beer cans, bottles, cardboard and rubble. And what about the abandoned mattresses, sofas, fridges and old bikes?

Spanish beer

I’ve written about this too (The Accent, Smoking, Beer and Red Tape), as there’s nothing I like better than a good English real ale, or a refreshing German Weissbier. Unfortunately, the former is not really viable in the Andalucían climate, although increasingly German beers are becoming available and at a competitive price.

The problem with Spanish beer is that it’s too gassy and somewhat bitter and can only be consumed ice-cold.  Spanish beers are also a bit stronger than their Northern European equivalents, with the notorious exception of beers from Belgium.


Firstly there are never enough parking places and what there is turns out to be pretty expensive. Increasingly our urban streets are being given over to bar and restaurant terraces or for rubbish skips, meaning less space for us motorists. However, I’ve realised that if you park two abreast,  en paralelo, and put your warning lights on, you can get away with this rather anti-social habit. If you’re Spanish, that is. I think guiris are easy meat. ‘I’m sorry, officer, I really am, but I just needed to stop briefly to nip into my bank / buy a lottery ticket / have a very quick coffee with my friend’ won’t really get you off the hook. A 60 euro fine at least!

But, when all is said and done, what are half a dozen gripes, when compared to the endless joys and pleasures of our adopted country?

Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita, and his dog, Berti. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.