MY name is Mary and I am a Guiri. There, I´ve said it now, it´s out there in the open, but it´s something I´ve been fighting for the last two and half years, exactly the time that I´ve been living in Seville.
I suppose the reason it jars is because I´ve never been so instantly identifiable as something in the past. In London it doesn´t really matter where you´re from, no one really pays that much attention because everyone is from everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time. But here in Seville, a city where diversity is a foreign concept and Spanish stereotypes like bullfighting and flamenco permeate its very core, Anglo Saxon features mark you out as differerent, in other words a Guiri.
Over the years, I´ve been led to believe the word Guiri is used as a term of endearment like ‘Ah, bless the Guiris with their strange desire to eat before 10pm and to wear shorts with sandals at a scandalously chilly 23 C’. But it’s got to be said, more often than not it feels like an outright insult, which is no surprise as its lexical orgins according to my best friend Wikipedia, stem back to a term used by the 19th Century Basques to describe their enemies.
At worst, in certain more unscrupulous establishments this perceived difference is acted out in Guiri prices, where pink faced, badly dressed foreigners are charged well above the going rate for badly cooked, underwhelming fare. On a less overtly discriminatory note, you may find yourself waiting a bit longer for your drink in a busy bar, as northern European politeness is usurped by Andalucian imperatives. And don´t even get me started on the startling effect a gaggle of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Guiri girls has on the loose tongues and libidos of the local males of the species.
But seeing as I’m living here in Seville rather than passing through, I’ve decided to embrace the Guiri within and make it my own. So what does this mean exactly? Well I have to admit that there has been a certain amount of adaption going on to local customs. I will most certainly not be going tightless until after the ´Feria de Abril´, and long gone are my days of sitting down to my evening meal at 6.30pm in front of the telly. I guess I just don’t feel so much on the defensive as I did at first, there’s really no point. I just acknowledge that I’m different, not just in the way that I look, but in the way I see the things, which allows me to float between two worlds, while remaining slightly detached from them both. So I can take Sevillanas classes, don a Flamenca dress, somehow manage to fudge my way through the steps and be seen as positively endearing. And that’s the way I like it.
So this is my blog, Andalucia through my eyes, ‘The Guiri Eye View’. Enjoy.