Spain is in recession. The economic crisis is biting, maybe here more than anywhere else in Europe (except Greece, of course). Government and companies must all do their uttermost to save the country from bankruptcy, the former by cutting down on public expenditure, and the latter by doing profitable business. In order to sell products and obtain new contracts, Spanish companies send their best men into the field, as if they were the conquistadores of modern times, eager to seize new wealth.

Anyway, it’s well known that the representatives of the corporate world must have a formal appearance. Suit, tie, polished shoes and slicked-back hair are part of their image. Yet, here in Spain, it seems hard for individuals not to show their natural side, and their laid-back character is often visible behind the cold image of the businessman. This cultural particularity suggests that, if a German looks serious, he certainly is; a Spaniard, not always.

I’ve often seen on a Spanish businessman’s wrist, right under the immaculate white sleeve of his shirt, some little bracelets that clash horribly with their owner’s formal aspect. They’re cheap accessories, colorful plaited leather laces or cords, probably bought on the beach during the summer holiday.

This incongruous detail always defies my imagination. Every time I see it, I can’t help picturing the businessman in front of me, in Bermuda shorts, feet sunk deep in the sand, watching the blue sea whilst sipping a glass of beer under a parasol. And then I wonder whether, in this country, in order to escape the heat of the economic crisis, all you need to do is go for a swim.

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