In Spanish they would call these curiosidades, that is, curious facts about something.
Like any place in the world, what is totally normal to one nation could seem peculiar to another. As an Englishwoman in Spain, it provided endless fascination to discover more and more curiosidades along the way. When I moved to Córdoba, I knew I was going to have to quickly adapt, battle with the language and learn how to cope in the heat. What I didn’t anticipate though was that I was going to have to learn all the little ways that actually make a big difference to day-to-day things such as going shopping or eating out.
Here, I’ll tell you about 12 of these along with some explanation as to how they came about! If you know of any more or want to find out more about the following, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
1. The tooth fairy does not bring a coin in exchange for a fallen tooth, in Spain it is a mouse
El Ratoncito Pérez (Pérez the little mouse) is the figure who takes away children’s fallen teeth and leaves behind a coin in exchange, all over Spain and Latin America. He originated in Madrid in 1894 by a Royal Counsellor named Friar Luis Coloma.
He was commissioned by the royal family to write a story for the 8 year old Alfonso XIII when he lost a tooth, so Coloma conjured up a story about a little mouse who collects teeth and takes them back to the little biscuit box where he lived with his family.
In Madrid, there is actually a small museum dedicated to this fairy tale called ‘Casita Museo de Ratón Pérez’ which is obviously, a child-friendly thing to do whilst there.
France also has its own version of the tooth collecting mouse, called La Bonne Petite Souris.
“The lights of Gibraltar poured out of the sky like a heap of diamonds on the flat dark sea.”
– Laurie Lee ‘A Rose for Winter‘
I first glimpsed ‘The Rock’ from the industrial shores of Algeciras, a looming expanse that I initially mistook for Africa (my sense of direction is awful).
Perched between Spain and North Africa yet British by nationality, it is an intriguing and highly contentious place that I was eager to see. You can enter Gibraltar by car or by walking across its airfield.
We drove to La Línea, the Spanish town closest to the British border of Gibraltar. We parked up at a roadside and began to walk towards the passport control. First one to exit Spain, second one to enter British overseas territory.