What’s It Like Being With a Guiri?

After reading Girl in Florence’s post about her boyfriend’s thoughts about being with an American, I thought I’d interview Mario about his thoughts about life and love with a guiri (Spain Spanish for “foreigner”). He is really too kind, though, and it was hard to get out any juicy tidbits … mainly he was just super respectful. Darn it, Mario! (Okay, not really. He is the best.)

Before I came to Spain, I wasn’t sure if I identified with my nationality. I didn’t like guns, or football, or beer, or many other things your “typical” American likes. Oddly enough, it took me coming to Spain to really “feel American.” Although I still don’t see myself as your stereotypical American girl, I know that many parts of my upbringing are deeply ingrained, and they influence how I act on a daily basis.

As a part of a Spanish-American couple, I’ve seen and experienced many of the cultural mishaps that go along with dating someone from another country. Spain and the U.S. aren’t all that different in the end, but there are still some things that trip me up, even after five years in the country. Perhaps Mario and I will always have our small miscommunications and misunderstandings. But they’re still fun to discuss! So let’s get it started …

Mario Kaley Zamora Castillo

How do you think your life is different being with me than if you were with a Spaniard or some other nationality?

We wouldn’t be talking in English! I wouldn’t visit the States so much, of course, and I doubt I would have gone to Indiana ever.

That would be a crying shame! Really. “Don’t mess with Texas,” psh, don’t  mess with Hoosiers. What parts of the United States surprised you? The good and the bad.

  • People living in houses and driving everywhere, not having a proper city.
  • The high school was so big.
[I just want to insert here that I tried very hard to get him to tell me more things that he thought were just wrong, like we were all way fatter, but nooooo.]

What do you like most about being with someone from the U.S.?

You get to talk a lot in English, so I improve my English. Eating new foods from the U.S. Getting to experience another culture through your partner. Having two teams to root for in sports competitions.

Yes! Go Spain! Go USA! What things are more difficult?

Because we come from two different countries, one of us has to be far from our home. Sometimes there are cultural or linguistic misunderstandings

What new things have you tried (foods, experiences, etc.)?

  • Apart from going to Indiana, I’ve tried a lot of new foods, like: your dad’s smoked ribs, the cookies you make (the ones with oatmeal and dried cranberries) … I really liked the breakfast casserole your aunt made for us the morning after your brother’s wedding! [Kaley: This was your typical sausage and egg casserole a.k.a. hangover food.]
  • We went to an IU basketball game and a football game. We tailgated before the game! That was fun.

Tailgating Indiana University

  • Having an American wedding was cool, even if it was the traditional wedding. Going to your brother’s was also a lot of fun.
  • Thanksgiving was neat, because we were watching the football game on TV and then eating. I really like stuffing, and obviously the turkey. The ham was good too. I was at the Black Friday sales the next day. [Kaley: Note we did not go to the 3 a.m. stuff. Just the average next-day sales.]
  • I got to go pick out a Christmas tree at the farm. I cut it down too.

Mario Cutting Down Tree

  • I’ve been to Chicago, and it’s so impressive with all its skyscrapers, and of course the lake. I tried Chicago-style pizza with my mom and dad when they visited.

What things do you want to try now?

Obviously, I want to visit as many states as possible! I would especially like to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone, the Pacific ocean, Hawaii. I would like to drive there and have an automatic car. New food, but not spicy!
Thank you for being patient while I peppered you with a zillion questions and badgered you incessantly to be meaner! Now is the time I would link to Mario’s blog, if he had one (hahahahaha, yeahhh).

If you could ask Mario a question, what would you ask? What do you find interesting about what he said?

29 thoughts on “What’s It Like Being With a Guiri?

  1. he would never have gone to Indiana – that struck me as funny :) what did he mean by “not having a proper city”? I agree, by the way, about driving everywhere. I’m rather tired of it and look forward to NOT having a car when I move to Spain! fun interview!

  2. Ha! My husband is from Barcelona and loves my mom’s egg casserole too! Also, what’s up with the Missouri Rolla hoodie? I’m from Missouri and did a double-take when I saw that! This international blogging world feels so small sometimes ;)

  3. Thank you, Kaley and Mario! This was a great read! I completely agree with Mario about Americans driving everywhere. It definitely is unnecessary with proper cities. Speaking of, I also really liked that Mario said the US doesn’t have “proper cities,” as I agree. What does he think of American cities being so “new” compared to Spanish/European cities?

    1. What is a “proper city”? The cities I am most familiar with, including e.g. Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago are comparable to e.g. Madrid in terms of public transport and amenities. What is it about Madrid that differentiates it/makes it a “proper city”?

      1. Sally, I think he is speaking of “proper cities” being defined as ones that are primarily pedestrian-oriented with a high population and good public transportation. New York, Washington D.C., and Boston would certainly fit that criteria and be considered “proper cities” in my definition. However, more sprawling cities without a true downtown like Phoenix, for example, would not. U.S. cities also tend to be more sprawling in general with sometimes hundreds of miles of lowering density before you hit rural agriculture-focused areas, whereas in Europe cities are far more compact with hardly any suburbs being in-between the heart of the city and the rural agricultural areas. That was my take on the “proper cities” comment at least.

        1. You’re spot on, and I don’t think he meant it as an insult whatsoever; it’s just that, even in smaller cities in Spain, one is able to walk around to pretty much everything, whereas in a town of comparable size to his, you still have to drive to get to a lot of places (say, the supermarket).

      2. Mario includes a lot of Spanish cities in his definition of “proper,” and he’s not using that as a value judgment. I think the cities you mentioned are good examples of cities that are walkable in many ways, but think of a town of 60,000 … you most likely would have to use your car, whereas his town of 70,000 is very walkable, and you can do most everything without a car—a car is not a necessity in much of Spain, and in much of the U.S., it is. I know you can get by without one in places like NYC, Boston, Chicago … but definitely not in Dallas or Phoenix or even Indianapolis.

  4. Ha! My husband is from Barcelona and loves my mom’s egg casserole, too! Also, what’s with the Missouri Rolla hoodie? I’m from Missouri, so I had to ask…this international blogging world feels so small sometimes! ;)

  5. I think I understand what he means by not having a proper city. Apart from big cities like NYC, Chicago etc., American towns are divided up into sections. Central business district here, school here, residential neighborhoods, malls over here… and with the lack of public transportation, we have to drive to get everywhere to get to all these places whereas even in smaller cities in Spain, you can take the bus/tram/train to get around. It’s a bit of a mish-mash in Spain. At least I think that’s what he means.

    I think he could have been a bit meaner but it’s nice to see he thinks so positively of us Americans.

  6. I loved when Georgette did this reverse-interview, so I’m tickled to see that you were able to get Mario on board, too! Mario was definitely sweet with all of his answers ;)

    Also, it looks like you guys have a lot of the USA to see! Any news on the moving front?

  7. Aw, love this! Kike is famously stubborn, but I think he does like having the best of both worlds – he loves the Hawkeyes, loves American casseroles and Thanksgiving, loves Chicago. Super excited for him to come visit next month!

    1. Well, Mario actually has a pretty positive opinion on the U.S. almost all the time. I mean, he has his differences—he is against the death penalty is one thing I’m thinking of, and he agrees with me that our gun laws are out of control, but he really likes just your “average American’s” way of life, if that makes sense. He has all his issues with the government and policies, but as for the average U.S. citizen … he probably likes that person!

  8. “Because we come from two different countries, one of us has to be far from our home.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    1. Yes! Just yesterday my dad was lamenting that he doesn’t get to have the big family get togethers that other families do (at least not more than once every five years, maybe), because our families all live across the ocean from each other.

  9. because in the last time i have seen a couple of bloggers use the word “guiri” as a foreigner, i should like to clarify or point out that such a word cannot be used to describe any foreigner, even if its meaning is foreigner

    the use of “guiri” as it is used now dates back to the 60´s where under Franco Spain opened its doors, and massive floods of tourists came to Spain, above all Sweedish, British or Germans…..we think of them as guiris because they are foreign tourists ready to take pictures of famous monuments or ready to roast their pale skin under sunlight along the beaches of the coastline….this is something that has stuck in our minds…it is not opinion but a fact.

    that is exactly why a foreigner from Argentina, Ecuador, Morocco, Mejico or Colombia is NOT considered a guiri, because he or she is working and residing in Spain, not the typical holiday maker from Germany wearing sandals with socks in summertime for example….so a person from the USA who is working and residing in Spain is not a guiri at all if compared to the steorotype that i have just mentioned above.

    of course the word guiri translates as foreigner, but it cannot be used to describe the whole sense of foreigner, this is one of the things that makes a language beautiful, for things are not always what they seem.

    at least along the coastline not even a single Spaniard would ever call an immigrant from the USA or Colombia a guiri if compared to a pale-skinned German who is eating fried fish along a sea promenade with their sandals and their white socks on.

    anyway, because i know that Kaley is working and residing in Spain i don´t consider her a guiri…..if i didn´t know her situation i would of course consider her a guiri if i saw her taking pictures in Zamora or eating fried fish along the sea :)

  10. Haha Mario seems great. You guys are beyond adorable. My boyfriend also has an aversion to all things spicy and really likes stuffing :P He just left the US but showing him around was what I imagine showing my future child around will be… everything is so foreign to them! I love it.

  11. btw….I’m going to see the bean tomorrow!! I think I first learned of it from you. and when I asked my daughter (14 years old) if she knew of the bean “of course! who hasn’t heard of it?” um……heh. We’re making a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate my aunt’s 95th birthday and have one day to wander around downtown. can’t wait!!!

    1. I get so mad at him because he says spicy food isn’t good because the spice blocks the flavor! Oh well, more spicy for me!!

  12. Kaley, what a sweet surprise it was to A. read this post and B. Discover your awesome blog. I think this is such a fun topic to cover considering there are many of us in the same boat. I wince a little bit when I meet French people (my boyfriend’s french) who think that I am french because of my name, basically I have to constantly explain nope, I’m American but we live in Italy and nope, i don’t speak fluent French yet. Fun times! Thanks again for the mention, I adored your post, it looks like he’s fit in your family quite well (and now he can say he’s visited Indiana ‘-)

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