Summer in Spain can get unbearably hot. The only way to beat the heat is to develop your own survival strategies, says Vanessa Rocchetta.
It’s summer time. Clubs close, work slows down or stops, and many expats go back to their home country for a month. It’s boring and it’s hot; between 35 and 40 degree Celsius.
For three months I welcome cold or near-cold showers. There is competition for parking spaces in the shade because people want to avoid getting into a car that feels as hot as the oven.
It’s not just the expats that find summer unbearable in Spain. Some Spaniards who come from cooler parts of Spain find it equally difficult to cope with the heat in summer.
We have not been able to go back to the UK in summer so over the last seven years we have developed a few survival strategies.
Keeping the house cool
Keep curtains and carpets to a minimum. The Spanish keep their blinds down especially on the sunny side of the house. Dark is cool.
Ceiling fans also keep you more refreshed than air conditioning.
Turn on the air conditioner 10 minutes before entering the bedroom. Turn it off before falling asleep. Once you are asleep you probably will not wake up. Having cotton percale sheets will also help to keep you cool (some of you will want to iron them).
Some houses have sliding windows that you can remove. Do check to make sure you have adequate security.
Keeping yourself cool
My house is not overlooked so at home naked is often the dress code.
A dip in the pool for 15 minutes is also far more efficient at lowering your body temperature and maintaining it than a cold shower. Fashion is not a priority at this time of the year. Something in white cotton or linen works well, a loose skirt or culottes and flat sandals.
Spanish supermarkets are full of bottles of cologne which you can spray over yourself frequently. A neighbour of mine on a drive back to Santander took a fan that has a spray bottle of water attached (a neat idea from a few years ago).
I wear my hair short so that I can wash and go. I hate using the hair dryer in the summer. Make-up is minimal or not at all but a high factor moisturiser is essential for avoiding more wrinkles.
While driving, turning on air conditioning is essential although many Spaniards find it provokes coughs and colds. Direct the fan to your feet.
Food and Drink
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is out until September unless you cook it on the barbecue (although we did cook a turkey on our oven-styled barbecue recently).
Healthy diet prevails; salads and a multitude of fruit. We don’t eat out much in the summer because it’s difficult to ensure food is kept in cool conditions.
We try to drink plenty of water (two to three litres a day as recommended by the doctors) but the following Spanish drinks are refreshing:
Ganizado – a crushed ice drink in many flavours
Horchata – a cool milky drink made from tiger nuts
Clara – shandy
Tinto de verano – red wine with lemonade
Activities for summer
After 10.00 am, it is extremely difficult to do anything physical. It is therefore important to keep housework to a minimum. When the heat gets unbearable, we go to the supermarkets to cool down.
Many Spaniards go to the coast to get the sea breeze. We went to the mountains an hour away for one blissful cool night.
It is best to stock up books and DVDs before summer. Do non-strenuous activities such as study Spanish or write articles for expatica.com.
Follow the habit of the Spanish siesta. Even if you can’t sleep in the afternoon, rest and read. Then in the evening, get up and head for the fiesta.