This is Spain

Spain Uncovered podcast image

Spain Uncovered Podcast

Today I uploaded the 25th episode of the Spain Uncovered podcast.

I started this show as a follow-up to my book “The A to Z of Spanish Culture”, where I tried to describe the “real” Spain. Although I did manage to give quite a true vision of the country, what emerged was an autobiographical account. The book ended up being more about my own experience of the country, as I described her arts, history and society.

Keen to offer a much wider vision of Spain than I presented in the book, I started the Spain Uncovered podcast. To avoid presenting about a country as seen only through my own eyes, I usually invite different guests onto the podcast. Except for one of the guests, currently all the guests live in Spain today. So I’m learning a lot. I’m learning about some parts of the country I’ve never visited; I’m learning about historical events I’d never really heard of; I’m learning about how the economic crisis is affecting not just society but also business and the arts. Who would have thought that hosting a podcast about the country I grew up in would open up my mind?

I’m meeting people who have made Spain their home out of choice, pretty much like I made London my home more than 20 years ago. They can still see the country through the eyes of an outsider and so they can see opportunities where I might only see the inevitable; they can find beauty in those things I never look at twice. I’ve interviewed Spanish nationals who’ve also chosen to live their adult lives in Spain – once more presenting me with quite a different point of view to mine. I’ve also been able to have the luxury of inviting some old friends to have a chat with me about different aspects of the country and share their vision of how society might evolve. The interviews have always started with them sharing some aspects of what’s going on in Spain (sports, science, theatre, music) but they’ve always, at some point, taken a philosophical turn.

How often can you say to someone, “Hey, can I give you a call over Skype to hear a bit about what you’ve done with your life and then have a philosophical chat?” With the Spain Uncovered podcast, I’ve given myself license to do just that. Amongst all these interviews, I was missing giving a bit more of myself to the show. Sure, all the interviews have introductions and sometimes I follow the guests’ contribution with a short talking head, picking up on a certain aspect of our conversation and sharing my personal experience of it. But I was missing having a more direct connection with the audience. And I was missing bringing the Spanish language into the mix. So in October 2014, I started the Discovering Spanish series, where I talked about the origin of Spanish phrases or proverbs. I’d write a blog post in English and then translate the text into the microphone, giving it the Spanish treatment. This was great fun and very well received. I’m sure I’ll be doing more of these later: it’s fascinating to discover where expressions that just roll off your tongue come from and I really enjoy playing with the format of anything I create.

Last November, I pushed the format (and my luck) a bit further and invited four guests onto the show. We set up a Google Hangout and talked for over ninety minutes about Spanish stereotypes. We started talking about where stereotypes come from and how often they’re true. The conversation then took a much deeper turn and we ended up reflecting on why stereotypes exist even within the country, what image the country has been trying to sell of itself and how many “Spanish traits” today are the result of many years of dictatorship. This episode will come out in January 2015, and I’m very curious to see how it’s received.

I’ve never felt very Spanish. I had a British education and I’ve been bilingual since I was five. Writing “The A to Z of Spanish Culture” and producing the weekly Spain Uncovered podcast have certainly widened my knowledge of the country and its history and changed one or two points of view. It would be great if I could share any of this with you.


Pilar Orti is the author of “The A to Z of Spanish Culture” and other books. She currently hosts the Spain Uncovered podcast and the 21st Century Work Life podcast. Pilar works as a voiceover artist in London and also helps virtual teams through Virtual, not Distant.

Close Menu
Close Panel