Wall art in Spanish village

The GU'd Life: Bon Dia

When traveling in foreign countries, or even in your day to day life, don’t underestimate the disarming and engaging power of a hearty hello. I just completed a credit card bike pack adventure with GU athlete Jack Ultra Cyclist in Girona, located in Catalonia, Spain, which sits between Barcelona and the Costa Brava and learned first-hand that knowing a bit of the local language goes a long way. 

Nonita's coffee shop in Girona

Prior to my arrival I had mistakenly assumed that my high school Spanish, bits of which are still lodged in my brain somewhere, would help me navigate my time in Spain, but little did I realize that the citizens of Girona and the Costa Brava are part of Catalan, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain with its own linguistic and cultural identity. That meant my basic Spanish skills, while moderately helpful, left me awkwardly relying on my sign language or pantomime skills in multiple situations. The ace up my sleeve, however, was always hitting folks with the Catalan greeting Bon Dia, which means “good morning or good day,” because it disarmed them in a way, showed them that I respected their language, that I was happy to be conversing with them, and made them more open to trying to have a conversation in whatever form that may've taken. Without fail, sometimes more fluidly than others, I got the information that I needed.

Research suggests that we consistently underestimate the value of small acts of kindness, for us and strangers, and that every single person deserves to be acknowledged, however small or simple the greeting may be. For my time in Spain, Bon Dia became my way of smacking people in the face with a wee bit of stoke, respect, and excitement. It also hid the fact that I didn’t speak Catalan, or Spanish, really, but that I wanted to engage with them in some small way. Greeting strangers on the street, in the cafe, on the bike path or road, most often made both of our days, made both of us smile, and in some cases lead to small conversations or other salutations. Imagine that. The simple act of greeting someone, even in a foreign country, is a gift to both parties, so why wouldn’t we want more of that in our lives?

Yuri riding on a bike path in Girona

Here’s to putting more Bon Dia in our daily lives, wherever you live. The simplest way to make our world a better place is to say hello to more people, more often, and know that it may lead to meaningful conversation that will enhance both of your days. 

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