Friday, 3 July 2009

Dealing with the heat

Most of Spain is in the grip of a heat wave, una ola de calor. The weather maps show shining suns all over the country apart, that is, from the north where the suns are accompanied by clouds and occasionally slanting rain. Television news broadcasts tell of temperatures of 39° in places like Seville and remind us that hot nights are the worst, with Barcelona showing night-time temperatures of 25°.

Here we have had some respite from the extreme heat. This has, naturally, led some to declare that Galicia is not having a summer .... again!!! But we have had plenty of sunshine recently, even though today is positively DULL. Many days have had a mix of sun and clouds, allowing for walks along the harbour without burning up too much.

Now, the first weekend of July is just beginning, the start of the holiday season, and consequently there is a good deal of media attention on
operación salida. Some 4,000,000 desplazamientos (car journeys) are expected to take place over the weekend with the resulting chaos and undoubtedly a number of accidents to be reported on Sunday evening. Anti-drink-driving and safe-driving campaigns can be expected soon.

The Spanish, like the French who prefer
le mois d’août, are quite traditional, nay stick-in-the-mud, about when to go on holiday. It’s July so it’s time to head for the beach! The British on the other hand like to take holidays all year round, only crowding the British roads on Bank Holidays but otherwise seeking the sun in foreign climes.

The UK is apparently also having its own
ola de calor. Friends report a very sticky central Manchester. Both countries’ news media are full of suggestions for how to keep cool. The Guardian today has an article about iced coffee which, I must confess, is one of my favourite pick-me-ups on a hot day.

My version, however, is nothing like the one described in the Guardian. Nor is it the amazing concoction I was served in Italy when I described what I wanted. The ever so friendly waitress in the corner cafe in Viareggio took a cocktail shaker, added an espresso, ice, ice-cream and a good measure of Bailey’s and shook the lot up. The result was a deliciously cooling alcoholic drink but not quite what I had in mind.

No, what I wanted was the Spanish version:
café con hielo. They serve you a small black coffee and a glass full of ice-cubes. You add sugar to taste to the black coffee; this is the one time I sweeten my coffee. Having stirred it to dissolve the sugar, you pour the coffee into the glass of ice. Then you simply sit in the shade, sip your café con hielo as the ice gradually melts and read the paper or watch the world go by. A perfect occupation for a hot afternoon!

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