I’ve been thinking for some time about writing one more post about Spain. There are so many different impressions made and experiences had that I couldn’t pick one topic. There were the incredibly friendly people, hearing people talk about their shopping experiences in the US, suddenly having the ability to use a credit card again, suddenly adjusting from using dari as my second language to speaking in spanish, or my enjoyment of just walking winding streets, hearing the bells from the town church. I was thinking about this as a rounded a corner yesterday, and it hit me that I had to make this post about something that recurred so many times that I stopped counting after around the 9th time, despite my initial surprise and curiosity.

I lived outside Washington, DC for 4 years. Since it is the capital, it’s not surprising that a lot of protests and demonstrations are staged there. People want to have their voice heard by the people setting policy and create visibility. And the range of topics vary from pro peace, anti tobacco, pro tea, anti bankers, to pro abortion. One time I saw a group of people get on the metro with t-shirts indicating that they had just been at a rally to support “grandparents rights when raising their grandchildren.” (It made me think of my parents who did just that.) The topics are just that diverse.

In Kabul, I was always aware of any demonstrations happening in the city, and there were lots of them. Our security team made the area of any demonstration out of bounds, and if there was enough concern, we would be restricted even further. While these seemed a bit excessive, there were plenty of reasons why my security took a hard stance. I still remember the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident with Afghan fatalities in Kabul.

Yet, given all of this, I was so surprised by the people in Spain protesting. At first I would try to figure out from the signs or chants what the issue of contention was, but after seeing 5 different protests about 5 completely different topics within 2 weeks, my tactic switched to avoiding them (the noise of whistle blowing really is obnoxious).

Maybe it’s Spring-Protest-Season, or maybe this is an atypical year, but whatever it is, the people of Spain definitely participate in their right to demonstrate no matter the size of the city or town.