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Thursday July 16, 2015

Spare a thought for those slaving in the Spanish heat


Time for a siesta!

Yesterday as I stepped over one of my inert cats that lay sprawled on the marble floor, it struck me that it can’t be much fun wearing a permanent fur coat in temperatures close to 40C. This has been the hottest July that I can remember in Majorca and I’ve barely survived six days of it thus far. But the plight of my poor felines made me realise that some have it a lot worse.

Take this morning. In Café Paris cheery waiter Carmelo was doing his best to dash from table to table as tourists fled the harsh sun and took refuge under cool cream parasols on the terrace. Everyone wanted cold mineral water, juices and fizzy drinks laden with ice in double quick time and poor Carmelo toiled away, blotting the sweat from his face with a shirt sleeve. It was the same story in the market on Saturday. I watched as exhausted stallholders valiantly touted their wares while the burning rays of a playful sun lingered sadistically on their faces and arms.

At my local electrical store the owner ushered me in and closed the door quickly in an attempt not to thwart the powerful air-conditioning. She told me that she could stand the heat but not the humidity. Aye, there’s the rub. No sooner has one donned a clean shirt than it’s a moist rag moments later.

Of course there are small ways to combat the soaring temperatures such as – if lucky enough – heading to a sandy cove for a long siesta and a dip in refreshing seawater. Those of us who don’t have our own boats and yachts are often taken pity on by kind friends and offered little jaunts out to sea on hot clammy days. The advantage of course is that one arrives at hidden coves with crystal clear waters so that swimming is a pure joy. In towns such as Madrid I have seen daring locals and tourists dipping their toes in ponds and fountains in an attempt to keep cool. Meanwhile, huddles of elderly señoras clicking their albanicos, decorative fans, head for shady parks such as Madrid’s enormous Buen Retiro with its 120 hectares of land or the majestic Botanical Gardens.

Old hands will suggest drinking copious amounts of water during the day, slathering on the sun protector and taking frequent cooling showers to cope with the heat. Although a fair few homes in Majorca are equipped with air-conditioning, it is expensive and many consider it a less healthy option, so electric fans are the order of the day and any dark corner of a terrace or patio not penetrated by the sun.

When it comes to food I, like others, practically live on gazpacho soup and tomato salads enjoying a full meal at the end of the day when the sun has sloped off to bed. Still, there are two sides to the coin. For as much as we all moan and groan about the heat here in Spain, we also relish it. This is the time of year when one can legitimately take siestas, enjoy long swims and show off a tan. It’s all about lazy al fresco suppers with friends and evening strolls by the glittering sea and wearing as little as possible without shocking the neighbours.

Then come November when the rains begin, we’ll cast our minds back with nostalgia to the pleasures of a sizzling July and with anticipation look forward to summer all over again.





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