Good grief. The ambient temperature is some 7ºC higher than normal body temperature and can probably therefore be classed as ‘feverish’.
One of the main mechanisms for the shedding of excess heat by the human body is the evaporation of perspiration, cooling the skin and the blood below it. Which fact effectively gives me full permission to cool like a fat lass without having to beg your pardon.
However, when it is this hot and at the same time very humid, the evaporation of sweat from the skin slows, so the body struggles more to shed its excess heat, and hyperpyrexia can occur. This arises from the body’s efforts to divert large amounts of blood to the skin in a vain attempt to cool, meaning less is available for the deeper body tissues (internal organs, muscles, brain…) So, in a nutshell, we feel knackered.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Which is why many southern european countries indulge without fail in an afternoon siesta, a very civilised and pleasant pastime which concurrently recharges the batteries in preparation for the late-night enjoyment of the cooler and less debilitating air.
So last night, being a Saturday, I agreed to meet up with some friends in Bullas for a drink and a chat at one of the thousand or so bars that can be found in the little town of Bullas (population some 12,000; population density around 150 /square km).
Please note, by the way, that last figure, since I must observe that on a Saturday night I estimate that most of the 12,000 inhabitants are packed into just one square kilometre where the bars are also at their densest. It is a fact of life here than everyone turns out to eat and drink during a fine summer’s evening, small children, grannies and dogs in tow. Note also that this is not a tourist area – this is the habitual behaviour of the natives.
Anyhow, what with us being almost completely Spanish by now (well, apart, that is, from still being capable of logical thought, of arriving on time, of following prescribed procedures, of understanding that there is a bigger world out there beyond the boundaries of the province….) we arranged to meet at 10:00pm. By this time, the sun had dipped and all the lights where flickering on in the new municipal gardens, the swifts had gone to roost and the bats were out in their stead, la gente de Bullas were milling around in all their finery indulging in the customary mega-decibel greetings and exchanges, and a soft and cool breeze was just being to stir, to the relief of all and sundry.
So we sat under the large canopies in the huge open courtyard of our newest fave haunt, El Patio, sipping beer and wine – well, in truth, I sat and waded through a copa de helado featuring a bola of rich dark chocolate ice-cream smothered in cream and decorated with all manner of chocolate biscuits. Hey! I needed blood sugar – cooling the blood diverts it from the main organs and leaves one feeling fatigued…..
I took off my shoes and wriggled my toes in the artificial grass underfoot, thoughtfully provided by the bar owner, and could actually believe for a couple of hours that I wasn’t at the point of dissolving into an oil slick. A highly-recommendable way of spending un ratito (a while) outdoors in the height of summer here.
However, the ice-cream must have created some sort of short-circuit in my brain. It had to be that, since I certainly can’t blame alcohol.
Having fallen into bed at around 2:00am, I awoke this morning at around 6:30am to the sound of the happy campers without these walls yelling loudly and incessantly for their breakfast. This creates a domino effect – Qivi, obviously haunted by the ghosts of his wolvish ancestors, feels that the appropriate response to the parrot palaver is to throw his head back and howl. This in turn causes the other dogs to bark furiously, the cats to commence their whingeing for food, and me to swear.
Anyhow, I crawled out of bed and threw on my campo clothes (think ‘scarecrow’ here) and went to shut them all up with their various dummies. Then, given that there was still an early morning coolness to the air, I set about watering the huerta (veggie plot) and the garden. While in the huerta, I realised that most of the tomato plants were lying supine on the ground, having parted company with their support canes under the weight of all the huge ripe tomatoes dripping from their branches. So I went to fetch a trug and commenced a mammoth picking exercise.
While I was at it, I also harvested all the plums, peaches, green beans, courgettes and green peppers that were offering themselves to me as being al punto – at the point (of picking).
Fabulous! The kitchen by 8:00am looked like a verdant market stall.
And then I realised that, despite my having eaten a few plums during the exercise, I was looking at a rather large amount of fresh produce that needed something done with it now, if not sooner.
So I have spent all day in the kitchen, with the range blasting out its contribution to the general heat, while I have blanched and frozen beans and courgettes, have made tomato purées, fruit purées, gazpacho, courgette and lemon soup….
Have I seriously lost the plot?
In the meantime, my pile of ironing, which is well on its way to becoming the tallest free-standing structure in the entire universe, glares at me balefully from the corner of the room while I ignore it steadfastly, preferring to sit here with my feet in a bowl of iced water and write this.