Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cuando el calor se nos eche encima

This month and into July, Granada is hosting an international festival of music and dance, with many performances al aire libre. “But what if it rains?” I asked an acquaintance back in April when tickets went on sale. “Oh, it won’t rain,” she said.

Since May the sky has been cloudless and sunny, and the average daily high temperature has been steadily climbing. Right now the temperature is 97F/36C. I believe that’s in the shade.

Thankfully Andalucians figured out long ago how to cope with the heat of summer.

  1. Chilled soup.
    There are two tomato-based, uncooked soups eaten throughout Andalucía as well as in other parts of Spain. Gazpacho is the original vitamin-packed, garlic-flavored smoothie, served in a glass with ice cubes or in a bowl like a traditional soup. Salmorejo is made with significantly more breadcrumbs than gazpacho and without green peppers and cucumber, and it’s typically garnished with hardboiled egg and bits of jamón.
  2.  Sangría and tinto de verano and ice cold beer served in small glasses
    Sangría is chilled wine sweetened with cut up fruit; I had a red version with cinnamon and it was delicious. Tinto de verano is chilled red wine mixed with a sweet carbonated drink like 7-Up—it can be bought pre-mixed in 2-liter plastic bottles.
  3. Abanicosabanico-mexuar
    Collapsible, hand-held fans are too practical to leave just to the tourists.
  4. White buildings with thick walls made of hollow bricks, tile floors, and wooden blinds on the outside of windows
    The buildings in our neighborhood are almost all white, which mostly has to do with historic preservation but also means those buildings reflect sunlight and heat (all those white surfaces on a sunny day can also make the world painfully bright). Hollow bricks and stucco exteriors allow buildings to breathe, something we mostly notice in the winter when the house breathes in humidity and cold. If we keep the awning open over our walled-in patio, keep outside blinds closed, and close windows completely when the sun is shining on them, the house stays remarkably cool even when it’s super hot outside.
  5. Siesta
    In Granada the majority of businesses follow a siesta schedule year round, closing between 2pm and 5pm or 5:30pm. In the summer siesta is a near-sacred time when people rest if they can.

Quien no arriesga, no gana

My friend Liz, who has lived as an expat several times, recently mused about why living abroad is so conducive to having adventures and why we don’t have more of them on our home turf.

“Is it inertia?” she asked. “Or high overhead? job-related fatigue? exhausting infrastructure?”

Yes, times four.

It’s also worth noting that adventure is defined as “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” I can’t imagine myself taking risks at home the way I have done in Spain—risks that lead to moments of discomfort and vulnerability and frustration and loneliness and self-doubt and pride and self-confidence and resilience and bliss. When I feel especially uncomfortable—feeling tongue-tied during three and a half hours (!!) of small talk in Spanish with moms at a kid’s birthday party, as just one example—I try to remember that the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential payout.

N.B At that same three and a half hour birthday party, I traded phone numbers with the mother of a sweet boy Lou is getting to know through their shared love of Legos and science experiments. Yesterday the mother texted me to see if her son could come to our house to play while she attends a work meeting—my hours of wanting to be anywhere but at that party were not in vain!