May 28th, 2009
I apologize for waiting so long before writing another blog post, my friends, as life after Feria caught up with me. In the past couple weeks I wrote two final papers, gave three final presentations, and taught my host-mother’s granddaughter how to make chocolate chip cookies. I visited the Picasso museum in Málaga and I wandered around Sevilla to take some final photos of my favorite places as the semester winds down. Life in Sevilla has reached a certain sense of normalcy, which must mean that it’s almost time to go home (a topic to be developed further in a later post).
In the meantime, it has gotten hot. And not just “time to break out the tank tops” hot or “bring a water bottle with you everywhere” hot (let’s face it, I do that anyway), but no: walking outside officially feels like exiting a cool, comfortable building only to find yourself baking in a blazing oven. I am constantly reminded of the oppressive heat on my way to class as I pass the electronic temperature reader by the fountain, these days always displaying a temperature well above 30ºC (90ºF). I constantly seek out the sombra (shade) as I walk outside, since there is at least a 5ºF or 10ºF difference in temperature between the sun and shade. Yesterday, the temperature was about 104ºF at 3:30 p.m, and I was foolish enough to be wearing jeans as I took pictures in the Plaza de España (a very, very bad plan). Whenever I ask my host-mother’s granddaughter, “¿Cómo estás?” she often responds, “Estoy muerta.” (I’m dead, as in dead from the heat). It’s HOT.
This intense heat explains so much about the way Andalucían society works. For example, I now actually understand the rationale behind the siesta, the three-hour break in the afternoon when people leave work, stores shut down, and absolutely no one remains outside on the street. Every day people go home at 2:00 p.m. to have lunch with the family and relax inside, ensuring that any sort of store, business, or tourist attraction that you might think would be open at 3:00 is instead closed for siesta (even the post office on a Monday afternoon! Grr…). Here, the hottest part of the day starts at around 2:00 p.m., siesta time, so it really does make total sense for the city to stop, take a break, and hide from the sun, much as it might frustrate my grand plans to do some errands in the afternoon. Really, there’s no point in walking outside unless you want to arrive at your destination drenched in sweat (I’ll take this opportunity to apologize to the members of my 3:00 p.m. History of the Spanish Civil War class). My host-mother explained to me that in July, the dead of summer, no one is outside during daylight hours, except for the crazy tourists, so people wait until after 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. to venture out to the tapas bars for a cold beer and social time with friends. On weekends, it seems that all the people of Sevilla disappear to go to the playa (beach) to escape the heat.
So far, it’s been bearable: I’ve got my tank tops, sunglasses, and water bottle with me at all times. (Though I’m a little worried because I seem to be running out of sunblock.) I (almost) always remember to close the shades in my bedroom to keep the sun out during the day. Being a quite pale-skinned person, I’ve gotten particularly skillful at hopping from shady spot to shady spot on the sidewalk in my crazy dance to avoid the burning rays of the sun. As I sit here in my room, sweaty and exhausted after my 20 minute hike from class, I have to be honest: I can’t wait to return to Philadelphia in two weeks for some nice, “cool,” 80ºF weather.