I HAVEN’T been to the Southern part of the United States much, but based on my time in Florida, I imagine staying there long-term would be like living in a small town in Southern Spain.

For example, cashiers, bank tellers and bus drivers where I lived in Florida often called me “sweetheart” or “honey”. Here in Spain, I often interact with grocers or post office workers who call me “guapa” or “bonita” – an appropriate parallel, I think.

Walking down the street with clothes unlike what the majority is wearing calls for stares and perhaps whispers, although the dress code differs based on geography.

In Florida, that usually meant baggy jeans on men or general unkempt-ness on women. Here, women wearing pants other than skinny jeans or wearing tennis shoes if you’re not actually exercising seems to solicit curious looks from passersby.

Also common in the Southern part of the US is a stronger connection between church life and secular life than in the North. It is common for church youth groups to hold car wash fundraisers in parking lots or for businesses to have a Bible verse posted in their store.

In Spain, church brotherhoods open bars known as “cuartelillos” in empty storefronts to raise money for their Holy Week processions and people flock to them every evening.

I’m certainly not complaining – it’s very comforting to see friendly faces wherever you go.

However, when I go back home to the big city I’m from, the anonymity might take some getting used to.

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  1. Interesting piece. But I have a slight different take. I believe it’s less North-South, and more small town values vs. city values.

    Every morning, I see lots of tone-deaf, clueless travelers. If they wear tank-tops, baggy pants and flip-flops … that’s your choice. But you also deserve those guiri stares.

    The outdoors are a big part of Ronda life today. The city’s location attracts artisans to service the tourist trade. If you press me to compare Ronda to a U.S. city … I would would think about Boulder in Colorado, Santa Fe in Arizona or Park City in Utah.

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