Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Our healthy copper Mediterranean glows are now a faint memory of our summer in the beaches of Mallorca. Our once toasty blush, due to the cold or the lack of sunlight in London, have turned our faces gray and colorless, deathly and pale. I sometimes look in the mirror and try to get used to the fact that for the next few months, I will be looking like this. No worries though, for what I've seen on the streets of London, everyone's complexion matches the sky's eternal color: gray!
When I was in my Baroque Art class in University, the professor once prepared an entire class on the importance of geography and climate in the History of Art. She mentioned how the colorful golden skies of the Mediterranean (Italy, Spain and France) influenced the bright vivid colors of their paintings while the silver-gray skies of Northern Europe (England, Flanders, Germany) could be singled out in the works of Rembrandt, van Eyck or Ruysdael.

I wonder if this is true for the demeanor of the people of the North and South. Everyone knows how warm-blooded the Italian French and Spanish are: best known for their romantic and animated existence, while the Northerners are mostly known for their sometimes cold and distant disposition. So far in London I haven't met people who are particularly cold and unfriendly, but I have noticed a certain distance. I'm not talking about the natural distance one would have when first encountering a stranger, I'm talking about a particular aloofness that tends to be a common denominator in people here.

Coming from a Latin country, where a good part of the population is either Italian or Spanish, I am used to being open and friendly. I'm probably just being judgmental, and in all fairness I don't enjoy making generalizations, but in some very profound level, I can see why northerners are labeled as detached. Was my Baroque Art professor right? Does climate have everything to do with it?

This is something I will be exploring in my stay here. I am completely intrigued by the anthropology of the different peoples of Europe. In every place I've been to so far (which aren't that many) I've noticed important differences in language, culture, and society. Whereas in South America everything is more unified. I guess this is what you get after more than 2000 years of history. Europe is the smallest continent yet it is immensely rich and diverse, and due to the immigration it is undergoing from so many other countries, the new Europeans are further blending the languages and cultures.

What is true though, is that the weather affects mood. We've seen very few sunny days and since I'm the kind of person that thrives on the Sun's energy, I wonder how I will cope in this dazzling yet somber city.
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