I am Ana Lafuente, and although my roots are in Bilbao, I was born in Madrid and I feel Madrilenian from the bottom of my heart. I studied translation and specialized in translating English, German, Italian, and sometime later I began to study Chinese. During the time I worked as a freelance translator, I took advantage of the summer vacations to travel to Shanghai to study the language well.
我叫 Ana Lafuente，虽然我的根在西班牙毕尔巴鄂，但我出生在马德里，所以我从心底里觉得自己是马德里人。我学的是翻译，擅长翻译英语、德语、意大利语，后来有一段时间我开始学习中文。我做自由翻译的时候，利用暑期去上海好好学习中文。
I have always been very attracted to China, to its culture, history and language. Six years ago I passed a very important competitive examination in Spain. Since then I have been a civil servant, and now I manage the Spanish Tourism Office in Guangzhou, which is responsible for promoting our country as a tourist destination abroad. Although my summers in Shanghai came to an end when I joined the Civil Service, life is unpredictable and China has finally come back into my life.
I have always felt very grateful for my connection with China, because I met my husband thanks to this experience. He is Peruvian, had business with China and was preparing for his first trip. We were introduced by a mutual friend and he asked me for information about my experience in Shanghai. So began our friendship and later our love story.
Imagine my joy when, a few years later, a position was offered as Director of the Spanish Tourism Office in Guangzhou, China. For me it would be a great honor to become the representative of the 2nd most popular country for tourists in the world in Southern China. I had the feeling that this position was for me, and so it was!
My husband and I moved to Guangzhou in 2019 and we have many experiences and anecdotes to share. In fact, you can say that our daughter is Spanish-Peruvian-Yunnanese-Cantonese, because 9 months after a fantastic trip to Yunnan starting in Lijiang and ending in Shangri-La, our baby girl was born.
2019 年，我和丈夫搬到了广州，期间发生了许多轶事。我们的女儿可以说是西班牙、秘鲁、云南、广东“混血”，因为我们当时以丽江为起点、香格里拉为终点，开始了一场云南惊艳之旅，旅行结束 9 个月后，我们的宝贝女儿降生了。
On the work front, as soon as I started at my new position in China, I found it a bit difficult to adapt to the work culture here. It could be said that in Spain, labor relations are more horizontal, and in general, team members communicate openly and with complete trust. When I arrived here, I found a very marked work hierarchy and something very curious: nobody talks during meetings! However, the colleagues I have met in Guangzhou are very talented and we have formed a great team.
Another important cultural aspect is body language. I am very “gesticulative” and express myself a lot with my hands. Once, at our favorite Italian restaurant in Guangzhou, I gestured to the waiter that I wanted to order a small cup of coffee. Apparently, my gesture was so big that from that day on I always get a “tank” of espresso… I also often gesture by pointing at things, or I emphasize my words by tapping on the table. That leaves my Chinese colleagues astonished, following my fingers with their eyes without finding anything, totally lost.
As a passionate tourist, I find China to be a constant adventure. In 2020 during Golden Week, my husband and I decided to travel to Zhangjiajie, the inspiration for the mountains in the movie Avatar. That trip showed us what “lots of people” really means! The environment is beautiful and unbeatable, but I recommend avoiding overcrowded destinations during Chinese national vacations, if you don’t want to face the 人山人海 (mountains and seas of people; large crowds).
As for Chinese society, in my personal opinion, during my time living in Shanghai and Guangzhou, I have always encountered very friendly and warm people. A perfect example of this is, a couple of days ago it was pouring rain, and a lady on the street who I didn’t know sheltered me under her umbrella and insisted on walking me to my door. I had never had anything like this happen to me before and I was very touched!
On the other hand, it could be said that many people in China’s big cities are not living so much as surviving. Especially in the big cities, there are people with very stressful jobs, such as food delivery drivers or car drivers. They are always rushing back and forth, and if they collide with each other, they don’t waste time arguing or fighting. Two motorcycles collide head-on, the riders look at each other, nod respectfully and move on. In Spain, in a situation like that, all hell would break loose! I admire their calmness and stoicism.
In particular, I feel that Guangzhou is a city dedicated to business, and although that doesn’t go much with my personality, I have fit in here very well and I am very happy with my life in China. I hope that tourism will be easier soon and that we Spaniards will be able to repay in spades the Chinese tourists who come to our country for all their kindness and generosity.