I remember traveling through Spain in my early twenties. Probably one of the most beautiful, fascinating and impressive countries I’ve ever been to. Each city had its own unique style, history and culture. The dry landscape of the South of Spain looked like Mexico or the Southwest United States, while the Basque Country in the North was green, rainy and mountainous.
Countless books and documentaries have covered Spain’s food, music, art and architecture, and of course, the language is a joy. I’d seriously love to go back to Spain and explore it more, it really is an incredibly varied place.
But the one thing that really struck me about the Spanish people was their lifestyle. Especially in the Andalucia region of the South where it gets really freaking hot during the Midday, the custom of Siesta was a welcome relief.
At first, I found it mildly frustrating. Being on Anglo-Saxon time, I wanted to go out and eat lunch at 2:30pm, but most places were already all closed down, the shops shuttered, the city dead as a doornail. Why can’t Spanish culture revolve around me and my immediate needs, dammit!?!
Yet once you get used to the rhythm of things it all makes perfect sense. Eat around 12, then go home or back to your hostel and take a power nap. Feels pretty good right? Its too bloody hot to go walking around looking at monuments or running errands anyway.
Later on, feeling refreshed, go out around 10 for dinner (which is when the restaurants start to get packed) and then continue on to the bars. In the middle of the night, out in the streets, young people are out in droves drinking wine, playing guitar, socializing, kissing, dancing, flirting- living life the way it should be led.
There’s a lot we can learn from the Spanish way of life that can be incorporated into our own. Paella is good, Flamenco is better, siestas even more so. Despite it’s well publicized current economic troubles (not caused by taking naps by the way), I wouldn’t mind living in Spain. People there seemed…well, pretty positive, friendly and content.
Personally, I fucking love napping in the afternoon. I swear, the moment I sit in a chair I start to feel sleepy. I also seem to sleep the best when I take a short afternoon kip. My dreams are more vivid, my slumber far deeper.
While in the middle of the night I can often wake up to toss and turn, a good Andalucian-style Siesta always leaves me feeling rested and ready for what comes next. Preferably a large glass of Rioja.
In fact, I may just take a short nap right now and come back later to finish this blog post… While I do that, take a gander at this short video by the media mogul Arianna Huffington and her own experiences with sleep deprivation:
Ouch: a broken cheekbone and five stitches above your eye. That’s what happens when you pass out at your desk from exhaustion. “Among men, sleep deprivation has become a virility symbol”, she says. Well, then call me a limp dick loser. I’ll go back to my sofa without a shred of guilt.
Hell, even Winston Churchill, in between smoking large cuban cigars, drinking scotch and fighting the Nazi’s, was an strident advocate of the afternoon nap. He supposedly would even start his workday in bed dictating memos to his secretaries.
Yet for so many of us, napping seems like a mark of embarrassment. Just like laziness, falling asleep in the afternoon is but for the weak- along with senile old farts with nothing to do except watch soap operas. A nap? You should feel guilty just for even entertaining that blasphemous notion in your entitled little head.
Little kids take naps in preschool (which I always hated being forced to do), but WORK- that’s for real adults who get real things done. Running around in a hamster wheel like a chicken with your head cut off- now that’s BEING PRODUCTIVE.
But if successful, driven people like Sir Winston and Mrs. Huffington can make something of themselves while enjoying an afternoon power nap, then you should be able to as well. And if Spain can produce some of the finest wines, modern cuisine, painting and music this side of, well, just about anywhere- all the while indulging in a ritual siesta, then I see no reason not to celebrate a good old fashioned nap when you feel like it…