I’ve been thinking that maybe Andalucian Spanish is cut so short in syllables and letters simply because it’s too hot to talk so much. It’s a miracle I can talk at all when the Sevilla sun creeps into the city and bakes it dry. Our apartment responds like an oven and gets hotter as the day goes on. Our laundry dries in approximately 2 hours when left outside on the drying rack (a miracle after this humid winter of 3-4 day drying cycles). And what do I do? I melt.
I will take shelter from the sun in the shade of buildings, buses, street signs, lampposts and anything taller than I am. I will cross the street 3 times to avoid the gaping patch of sunlight steaming off the cobblestones. I will walk heel to toe on the single stone sidewalks to stay in the shade provided by overhanging terraces. I will endure the same series of exclamations about my fair skin from Spanish friends, colleagues and desconocidos (unknowns):
“Hija, que blanquita eres!”
— “Girl, you’re so white!”
“Hay que usar la crema del sol, vale? Cuídate bien.”
— “You have to use SPF, ok? Take care of yourself.”
“Sabes que cuando tienes 50 años tu piel será mejor que la nuestra.”
— “You know when you’re 50 your skin is going to be better than ours.”
Now for an East Coast girl who doesn’t like the heat, I’ve been commenting on the temperature since April. Only now that the native Sevillanos are starting to complain am I reassured that everyone else is equally as miserable as I am. I thank my lucky stars that I will not be here in “the summer” – that is to say July and August. I remember searching for an apartment with my roommate in late September in 100 degree heat .. I have no desire to repeat such an experience! Once you add the levante winds from the Sahara, there is no escaping. Paulo Coehlo wrote that the levante brought the Moors from Spain, but it is sure to drive this girl back to the States in the summer months.
Since mid April we’ve had some temperatures that convinced me there is no Spring in Sevilla. The season may exist but on the thermometer you can rest assured there is no real in between. One day it’s raining and the temperature settles in the 60’s – the next day it’s still 83 degrees at 6 in the evening. The amount of sunlight we receive here in Andalucia is shocking. When I wake up to go to work the house is blissfully cool and the sun is just starting to lighten the sky (sunrise is currently 7am). Fourteen and a half hours later at approximately 9:40 pm, the sun slides down behind our terrace. The hottest point of the day does not come at high noon but at 4 or 5 pm, and the city simmers well into the night. Siesta lengthens by several hours and you simply cannot leave the house between 2 and 7 pm.
A mere 1 hour east of Sevilla lies the town of Écija, Spain, a place which is affectionately referred to as the sarten de Andalucia or the frying pan of Andalucia. Without fail every year local bars prepare huevos fritos a la calle and fry eggs outside simply with the heat of the sun. But as the old men in the interview say: “Estamos acostumbrados” or we are accustomed to it. I wonder how much ice cream is consumed in these dog days of summer?
* side note. I drafted this in a fit of heat rage. Today is frescita and beautiful .. my last day at school! Thank you, Sevilla, for this glorious despedida del tiempo!