WWN VICE: We Go Undercover As Spanish Students


7 AM and we’re out the door. Waterproof jacket and baseball cap on, backpack firmly strapped on. We’ve gotten word that a huge crowd of Spanish students has been spotted in town, and we’re taking this as our chance to infiltrate them. We’ve been on a sunbed all week, and we’ve shaved so that we only have a light, wispy moustache. The mission is a go.

We see them as we leave our house – 65 of them, maybe 70 at the bus stop outside our door. There doesn’t seem to be anyone over the age of 17 in the group. It’s half seven, in Waterford, in April. Where are these kids going? Have they been here all night? We approach the group and sidle into the middle, undetected by them. They’re too busy shouting. Shouting and laughing, seemingly at the same time.

Our presence in the crowd doesn’t draw any attention, but we’re going to have to work to stay unnoticed. The Spanish students are in a constant state of motion; never staying still, but somehow never hitting each other with their huge backpacks. They yell, almost constantly. We have no Spanish, so we don’t know what they’re saying, but if it was Irish people shouting like this, you’d think that a fight was about to kickoff in a chip shop over who was getting the last battered sausage. Conversely, the girls are all hugging each other while yelling, and the lads are yelling while acting in an otherwise friendly manner.

There’s one kid just standing on his own on the periphery of the group, playing Temple Run on his phone. He too is yelling, at nobody in particular.

We don’t know any Spanish, but we yell anyway, to fit in. The best we can do is the theme to Dora And Friends: Into The City. Ola, we yell. Ola ola ola, bienvenidos. We’re so very very, happy to see you. The crowd falls silent. Have we been sprung? But no, they’ve just spotted something.

There’s a bus approaching.

The bus pulls up and the crowd attempts to enter in one go. No line is formed, no order taken. We’re caught up in this scrum of Spanish teenage humanity. We board after 20 minutes, and the bus pulls out. Finally, we say, finally we will learn just where these kids go during the day.

The bus goes 500 yards up the road and pulls up at the next stop. All the kids get out.

This happens for the next four hours. We go over and back across the road, getting the bus up and down the street. This cycle is only broken when we stop for lunch. Everyone piles into the nearest Londis and buys a dry baguette and an apple.

Then it’s back onto the bus.

Night falls, and we’re close to finding out what we really want to know: do these kids do more than just spin around on the busses all day, yelling and hitting people with their backpacks? What do they do at night? We wait with them on the footpath to see what happens. We check our watch to see the time, 11:59pm…12:00am.

We look up, and they’re gone, leaving us on the street, alone. They’ve vanished.

The next morning we hear a familiar yelling outside our door. They’re back.

This will be a long Summer.