It seems an obvious thing to state but, it’s important that we take the weather into consideration. Anyone watching the electric storms in September in Spain must have felt just a little humble in the presence of such a force of nature.
We are, after all, at the mercy of the elements, no matter how much we would like to think we can control them. So why do we insist on flying in the face of the Spanish weather?
Too hot to work
The school children around the Alicante region were complaining when they went back to school a week earlier than usual this year. So hot and humid were the classrooms without air conditioning that parents were taking fans into school and lessons were being conducted outside.
There were those who felt that a lot of fuss was being made about nothing and that to receive an extra week of education was worth it. However, for those teachers who were wanting to spend those first lessons setting the rules in their classroom, it wasn’t exactly what they had envisaged.
If you do try to work in the heat of August a kind of lethargy and weariness sets in that is very different from the kind of tiredness you might feel after staying up late. Even if your office, or classroom, is air conditioned, you are probably not sleeping too well because of the heat and feel drained before you even arrive in the work place.
The siesta has a logic and should not be just shrugged away as laziness or the idiosyncratic Spanish. A brief rest in the late afternoon can make all the difference to energy levels and allows you to make the most of the cool evening and early mornings. To do away with such traditions is not necessarily to improve productivity.
Nor is making children come into school a week earlier. The schools in Spain do not have the half term breaks of some other European countries. Even the youngest children (enrolled in school from the age of 3) are in for the full day up to 4.30. Besides good learning and education doesn’t necessarily come from cramming in every second of teaching time that you can.
Ignoring nature can sometimes not only mean a little discomfort but potentially something far more serious. There is usually a very good reason why things have evolved the way they have but unfortunately humans can be a little too ready to ignore this, particularly where money is involved.
A good but tragic example of this is where people have chosen to build over or use the ramblas in Spain for their own purposes rather than the way nature intended. A rambla is a stretch of land over which water runs during very heavy rainfall. These areas have been carved out of rock during years of storms.
Anyone who has witnessed rainfall in Spain will not be surprised that flooding often results. Rain comes down heavy, particularly towards the end of the summer when areas of cool air clash with the warm, damp air from over the sea. The Gota Fría is a particular storm that comes with a wicked reputation for destruction.
However, even in its milder moments, the rain in Spain can result in flash floods. In fact, these floods have been accumulating down the mountains until they eventually hit low land areas by the sea. When they do, they do with force.
Recently this caused real devastation in the Camposol region of Murcia when a deluge of water hit an urbanisation illegally built on a rambla. The result was that cars and even a swimming pool liner were washed, at force, through the urbanisation. It took gardens, road signs and walls in its wake.
Fortunately, no one was injured at this time, but in 2011 a similar flood led to the deaths of two UK pensioners who were caught in water as it swept away a market in Finestrat. Again, the area had been tarmacked for use with no consideration given to the implications of very heavy rainfall.
The weather in Spain, be it the torrid heat of the summer or the storms and Gota Fría of the winter time, is something to be reckoned with. We shouldn’t put ourselves above the forces of nature and instead respect it and our relationship as it has evolved over the years. Mother nature has had far too much practice to be ignored.