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La crisis.

In Spain, the crisis needs no modifier – it’s not the economic crisis, it’s not the housing crisis, it’s not the unemployment crisis, it is simply the crisis.  It is all of those and more.

But in true Spanish fashion, at the same time, it is none of those.

Spain, like many of its EU neighbors, is trying to emerge from worldwide recession.  The unemployment rate is over 25%, with the unbelievable statistic of 57% unemployment among those 25 and younger.  A promising second-home market led to a boom in construction.  Those homes now sit – nearly finished – entirely vacant.  Mandatory job furloughs further cut into family budgets.  Forced evictions have led to suicide becoming the number one leading cause of violent deaths in Spain.

Things are pretty lousy when it comes to your family budget in Spain.

But even so, the travel agencies advertise fantastic vacations to Turkey, Egypt and other exotic locales.

But even so, restaurants are filled for the midday meal.

But even so, people are buying two-year contracts on smart phones.

And while conversation may inevitably lead to talk of the crisis, in true Spanish fashion, it is usually to ridicule the politicians who are at the helm of this sinking ship.  Spaniards enjoy a laugh, regardless of how lousy things can get.  And they enjoy sharing that laughter out in a bar, over a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a beer.  People are out in the streets in Spain, living, talking, laughing, and yes, spending money.

This is one culture you can never keep down for too long.

Raise a glass to Spain and its indomitable spirit.  I have a glass of 2012 El Coto Rioja, a rosé that is a perfect match for this early summer evening.


About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!

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