Ola de Calor
Summer is here and with it, the heat.
Andrew has, since we arrived here, been fascinated by the thought of summer temperatures, and what this would feel like. It’s not as if he has lived his life under a stone, but he has yet to be in Mediterranean countries in high summer when there is no doubt that temperatures do soar.
When I was young, my parents and I lived in Cyprus for a couple of years, and I do remember that I quite enjoyed summers, although my mother used to spend a great deal of the time spread-eagled on the bed in her underwear, with the ceiling fan whizzing around, complaining that it was too hot.
Many of my own summer holidays, with my own children, were spent in Greece during the hot months of either July or August, and I never felt that is was overbearingly hot. I do believe that the heat here is very different from the heat that we would experience in the UK when, after a day or two of high temperatures, humidity would build up creating an oppressive atmosphere and it became, simply, uncomfortable.
So far this year, we have had two heat waves in Spain, and this week has seen the second of those two. This week, in fact, has seen July temperatures records broken in most parts of Spain. Córdoba saw a high of 46.9 degrees against the previous high of 46.6, and Granada temperatures rose to 43.5 against their record of 42.8 (Figures: AEMET).
In our valley, the temperatures are lower, but not by a huge amount, so we are both getting to sample the effects of the current Ola de Calor (heatwave).
So, what is it like? It is certainly a topic of conversation for much of the population, and wherever you go, people will fan themselves frenziedly and exclaim “hace mucho calor!”, roughly translated as “it’s bloody hot”. When you go out in the sun between 2pm and 6pm, it is rather like sticking your face into the direct blast of a hot hair dryer - you breathe in nothing but very warm air and it rather takes your breath away. Everything strikes hot - terracotta tiles beneath your feet; the interiors of cars are like ovens, and it takes an age for any air-conditioning to kick in. Opening the window in your car is next to useless, as it is tantamount to opening the door of the oven set at 220 C, and hoping for an arctic breeze.
All that said, we both love the heat, and Andrew even went for a cycle ride this morning. Mind you, this was at 8am before the day became too hot. I drove to school to teach at around 11:30am and the thermometer was in the 30s by that stage. Fortunately, at work, we are lulled into comfort by air-conditioning, so become blissfully unaware of the scorchiness beyond the 4 walls. We have both been working hard this week, so have been tucked away behind the very thick walls of the house, and have been protected, to some extent, from the blasts of hair-dryer heat. We have also, very quickly, realised that it makes total sense to live as the Spanish do - they are far from stupid! We close shutters as soon as we get up; we don’t do mad things like lie in the sun between 2pm - 6pm (do we Andrew? AW: Ummm...oh no never *coughs*), and we can’t even think about preparing dinner until 9pm. We resist any temptation to rush around, yet we are still working non-stop. The days are longer here, and you can fit in so much more without feeling pressure to battle against nature.
Trying to sleep can be difficult, and the only air that comes into the bedroom is hot; there is little respite. Mind you, we are probably losing pounds as we sweat our way through to dawn. During the day, the pool is essential! We are certainly eating less, as the heat kills the appetite.
From the above, you'd think that the weather here was nothing but wall-to-wall sunshine. It is, most of the time, but we do seem to have the odd burst of bad luck when we have guests to stay! The children's most recent visit was a case in point. We had booked tickets to see Maria Pagés Compañía at the beautiful open-air auditorium, Teatro del Generalife, on the first evening of their stay. We have been looking forward to seeing an event at this theatre since we arrived, located as it is in the gorgeous Generalife gardens above the Alhambra, in Granada. However, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse, and that afternoon it looked set to rain. Sure enough, as we arrived to take our seats at 10pm that evening, along with the rest of the audience, the sound of thunder rumbled and lightning flashes lit the sky to screams from members of the crowd. The concert was cancelled much to our huge disappointment. Of course, the next day, after some early cloud, wall-to-wall blue sky returned and the temperature started to climb.
After a hectic week, we have scheduled two beach days next week, and it does look as though this current heatwave will have abated a little by then. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the summer delivers, but although we are coping with it at the moment, there is, of course, a very serious side to these changes in climate. Three people have already been reported dead in Andalucia from the effects of this heat, and this figure will undoubtedly rise as the heatwave continues.