Barefoot in Iberia…

A friend of mine, Sue Burke, recently posted a link to this article:

10 WAYS TO TOTALLY HUMILIATE YOURSELF IN SPAIN

Now, Sue lives in Madrid, working away at translations of old Spanish texts into English and her own fiction as well, so she knows how the Spanish operate. And apparently, most of these are true.

Fortunately, when we were in Spain a couple of years ago, we didn’t violate any of these.  We struggled with eating dinner late. (We’re early eaters here in the US, too. Early to bed and early to rise, you know.)  As tourists, we looked kinda scruffy ALL the time, making it obvious we weren’t Spanish.  They really don’t dress down.

The one of the ten that I know I broke?  The Barefoot thing.  Not in the streets, of course, but in the apartments we rented.  I’m sure I must have walked around barefoot a bit.

I didn’t know about the barefoot thing.  Just a cultural tidbit that I missed.  I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

My next thought was, How does this affect my writing?

I asked myself that because there are a few references to bare feet in my books.

Oriana and Duilio meet in the hallway at one point, both without slippers (his because his valet is hiding them and hers because she’d rushed out of her bedroom without thinking.) In Book 3 there’s a bit where Joaquim says something about being comfortable with bare feet (on the islands, where bare feet are the norm due to mild weather.)

Now, at the time, barefootedness in Portugal was pretty…well, normal.  Especially in the more rural parts on the country. Why wear out the single pair of shoes you had when you have feet?portugal2

The cities were a different matter, and after the founding of the Republic in 1910, the cities began several rounds of campaigns to get people to WEAR SHOES.  a+pe+descalco

(Rough translation:  Shoeless Feet become Lost Feet.)

It was always an uphill battle. But the government argued that bare feet were not only dangerous, but that…

Everybody must wear shoes because the sight of an unshod foot and leg is repulsive to many foreigners, is unhealthy and unesthetic. It furthermore suggested backwardness in the country.

(Click on the photograph  of the two women above to go to the source of that quote: a barefoot running site, Ancuah).

Yes, we want to look classy, so put on some shoes, dang it!

After all this checking, I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry overmuch about my tiny little references to bare feet.  After all, if the government couldn’t get people in the city to wear shoes on the streets, I’m not going to force my characters to wear them in the bedroom!

#SFWAPro

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