Have a cup of coffee. Once I start to tell ......
Who is "Don Esteban"?
I'm Dutch and Don Esteban is just a username. (nickname) A friend in Barcelona used "taxista al aeropuerto". I changed the name a little bit and began using "el taxista". Later it became “Don ET” and for the last several years it has been Don Esteban. There is nothing wrong with my real name but I prefer to use my username when I’m on the Internet. There are several reasons for this. So, if it’s all the same with you, we’ll keep using Don Esteban, ok?
What went on in "Don Esteban’s" life?
Music has dominated my whole life and it became my profession at the age of 18. My father’s impressive career served as my example. He was an outstanding musician, very well known in his own country and abroad. As the Dutch saying goes, "music was spoonfed into me".
From the age of 16, I performed on stage playing dance music and at the age of 18, I started my musical career as a teacher and a conductor, while at the same time studying at the conservatory. My principal instruments were the clarinet, the saxophone and the keyboard.
After having worked as a teacher, a conductor and musician for 12 long years, I decided to quit these jobs, at least partly, and I opened a store selling musical instruments. After about 5 years, the small rental building burst at the seams and my own new building was put under construction.
In this new building, the business grew into a regional (and beyond), well-known location for musical amateurs as well as for professionals. With a staff of seven employees, we eventually moved into almost all areas of the musical-instruments trade.
On Friday, the 13th of december 1985, my life changed drastically. (see “runnerspage”). Even more than before, I plunged myself into the business and for many years the business ruled my life seven days per week.
However, there is more to life than money, stress and worries. Having come to that conclusion, I decided in 1996, after 35 years of hard and intensive work, to sell the business to two of my loyal employees.
What goes on in "Don Esteban’s" life now?
Aside from various hobbies, like the computer and Compuserve, I have fallen in love with Spain. Not so much the life of leasure, like “friet van piet”, or “patat van Ad”, (shop signs where Dutch sell french fries in Spain) the costas, la playa and the cuba libres, but the peace, healthier and cleaner air and the refreshing mentality of the Spanish people. I try to be there as often as I can.
There may be exceptions but when you get to know the average Spaniard, they add certain values to your life, that are not always found in the Netherlands.What I am referring to, for instance, are pride, respect, trustworthyness, honesty, friendlyness but of course also, the familiar "mañana". The saying, "don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today" is definitely not a Spanish saying. They know though how to enjoy life and the saying "make haste slowly" would be more appropriate in describing the generally, happy go lucky Spaniard.
Spain is made up of 17 "comunidades autonomas" (federal states) and they are sub-divided into provinces. You will find me mostly in la comunidad "Cataluña", of which Barcelona is the capital city. It is the second major city in Spain after Madrid. As far as land area is concerned, Cataluña can be compared to the Netherlands, it has 7 million inhabitants.
(The Netherlands have 16 million)
The Catalans are fluent in the Spanish language (castellano) just like we are in Dutch, but among themselves, they speak their "català". A mixture of Spanish, French and other influences. If you want to get a Catalan in a huff, you tell him, "Catalan is a nice dialect". Believe me, he will explain to you, somewhat indignantly, that the Catalan language, their native tongue, is a real language, even older than the Spanish language. It is being taught in school and used from dime novel to encyclopedia, from a school book to the newspaper, etc.
The government leader and dictator Franco didn’t think much of the Catalan language and he prohibited the use of it during his regime, even as a medium of instruction in Cataluña. But after they threw off the yoke of Franco in 1975, the Catalan language flourished as never before. All Catalan literature was brought back, every public sign or direction post became bilingual and wherever this was ignored or forgotten, the fanatic Catalan would do it himself with a can of paint.
By Dutch standards, the Catalan people are hard workers. They are sometimes called “the Dutch of Spain” (do WE still have such a zest for work??) Business and industry flourish at this time as never before, but this also causes a problem.
Financial prosperity benefits Cataluña only partly because the treasury chest is in Madrid. This causes friction and Catalan extremists like to write "independencia" on the walls. Luckily, these extremists are a very small minority. In Basque country, there is an even greater problem.
In short, the Catalan is not a Spaniard to the back-bone as many tourists would probably think. The big "Osborn-bull", a cherry-advertisement in the mountains, close to the border of Spain and France, has been gone for many years. The popularity of bull-fighting in Cataluna has been long overtaken by soccer. It is very quiet in the bull-fighting arena in Barcelona while Camp Nou, the old workplace of Johan Cruyff and Louis Van Gaal, is filled to the brim, a few times every month, with 100.000 soccer fanatics.
But, go and have dinner on a Saturday or Sunday, at one of the many small restaurants in the "Olympic Village" which is located at the new marina in Barcelona. Or take a walk on the "Rambla", the strolling avenue of this city. Then you will experience that the Catalan, by no means, renounces his country Spain and its typical traditions. You will discover that "la comida" doesn’t just mean "having a meal", but that it is a family celebration which can last for hours in a happy and care-free atmosphere.
Despite the fact that Spain is one of the most popular vacation destinations for the Dutch, very few Dutch people speak the Spanish language. The camarero (waiter) at the Costa Brava is more adapt at speaking German, English or French than the tourist is in speaking Spanish.
However, if you want to get to know the real Spaniard, some knowledge of his language is a must. This is what eventually motivated me to take some lessons and to use every opportunity to put them into practice. The Spaniard appreciates this very much, however, he is way too polite to correct your mistakes. You would have to expressly ask him, which is what you want to do if you want to learn more.
For the "aficionado", here follows a little "tourist Spanish"!
hola = hello
buenos días = good morning (until noon)
buenas tardes = good afternoon (until 9 PM)
buenas noches = good evening, also goodnight
¿Qué tal? = how are you?
muy bien, gracias = very well, thank you.
que te lo pases bien = that it may be well with you
igualmente = same thing
camarero, dos canas por favor = waiter, two beers, please
tengo que irme = I have to go
estoy cansado, me voy a mi cama = I am tired, I am going to bed
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