Sunday, June 29, 2003

For the first time in my life watching paint dry is a highly ineffective way to pass the time.

My red head is currently experiencing Spains hottest June in thirty years. Tempertatures have risen as high as 46 degrees and can be expected to increase even more come mid july. However mine is not the only body in shock. The Spanish are also finding it a difficult to cope. In Madrid people normally expect such temperatures, for two weeks only, around the beginning of August, and by that time they have already shut down the entire capital and fled to the coast for their month long break. This year on the other hand they have not even had enough time to become acclimatized.

To sleep in these conditions would be an interesting experience in itself except for the fact that one simply does not get any. Perhaps this is a healthy thing because it is too hot to dream not to mind even think. As a result the locals seem to have given up on going to bed altogether and the streets remain buzzing all through the night. My exhausted students have absolutely no capacity for learning english and while I act as if I care, in truth I have no energy to teach either.

But despite the temperatures the city is more enjoyable than ever. Since May there has been a constant stream of city festivals. The first was Fiesta de San Isidro (patron saint of Madrid). This involved a weeklong calendar of free outdoor concerts and carnivals. Then came the three day Fiesta de San Antonio. Nobody knew the exact reason for this festival and the answer from one of the organisers was, "I don t think that there is a religious connection...I never actually thought about it before." This festival was limited to my beloved Malasana district and involved a mix of street Jazz concerts and flame swallowers. Next came the Chueca Festival, also known as the Gay Pride Weekend. This is still in full swing and there are all night street parties, raves, parades and even the traditional Flamenco dancing in "Drag"...a must see event !!

I don t think that there are any more festivals planned for the next few weeks so I hope to escape to the mountains which are only an hour away. Temperatures in the Sierras are on average ten degrees less throughout the day and I m told that it makes for some great hiking and views. Until then I m off to stick my stick my head in another bucket of ice.