Summer is here!

23 Jun

Slowly but surely we’re starting to fall into the rhythm of life here in Barcelona.  After an unusually long Spring, the heat has finally descended and we now understand the reason for afternoon naps (during peak heat), late dinners, staying up even later into the night when the temperature is mild, and sleeping in.  Most businesses don’t open until 9 or 10am; the city feels pretty dead before then if you’re unlucky enough to have to be awake early.  We’re about the same latitude as my former home in Portland, Oregon, which means that daylight hours are really long in the summer; the sky is a beautiful periwinkle color as I write now at 9:45pm.

Our windows are open most of the time, to let the cross-breeze cool the apartment since we don’t have air conditioning.  With the windows open, we get to hear (and smell!) the sounds of the city around us, good and bad.  Our neighbors when they smoke on their balconies, periodic whiffs of sewer smell, the sound of shops rolling their shutters open in the morning and closed in the evening, the din of school children playing in the schoolyard down the street during recess.  Generally the noise is tolerable, even comforting at times, especially falling asleep to the light chatter of voices from a neighbor’s party late at night, but especially in the early morning our earplugs are a requirement for a solid night’s sleep.  We’re also learning how to combat the mosquitoes that inevitably come in (our windows have no screens) and try to bite us while we sleep.  Today’s project was to make mosquito traps out of plastic bottles; we’ll see how they work.

Our favorite beverage lately has been tinto de verano, or “summer wine”: red wine mixed with sparkling lemonade.  It’s a nice way to drink our wine on a hot day and stay reasonably hydrated at the same time.  The lemon is a critical ingredient, as it provides important electrolytes :).  We’ve been making our own with sweet Málaga wine that we buy from a local bodega for €2/liter (we bring our own bottle to fill it there), and a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.  Rob splurged on the Soda Stream he had been eyeing so we can even make our own carbonated water, which is the final ingredient.

Cathedral Projections

Projections on the cathedral in the heart of the Gothic District during a free concert in the plaza

There are cultural events every single day, no shortage of options in the city.  But tonight is special; it’s the eve of the festival of Sant Joan / Juan / John the Baptist.  It has the feel of the Fourth of July in the U.S.; everyone is having barbecues and setting off fireworks in the street.  When it gets dark, we’ll join half the population of the city on the beach, have a drink at one of the chiringuitos (beach cabana bars), and enjoy the music and festivities.  It’s no coincidence that the date is just two days after the summer solstice, and it has more pagan meaning than religious, which was tacked on by the church many centuries after this tradition began.  It’s a celebration of summertime.

We’re two weeks out from Nowhere, Europe’s Burning Man regional event.  Our container arrived just a little over a week ago, just in time for us to dig out our Burner supplies.  Without a car and with limited storage space, we realized that the car camping that we’re accustomed to is somewhat impractical here. We plan to rent a car to drive ourselves and our gear to the location in the desert outside of Zaragoza, 2.5 hours from Barcelona, but we are thinking carefully about our gear, trying to make do with items that take up very little storage space.  It helps greatly to be part of a camp, or barrio as they’re called at Nowhere, to take care of a lot of the infrastructure that we would otherwise bring ourselves.  We’re also having to re-learn where to buy supplies that we’ll need.  There’s no Home Depot for hardware; no Trader Joe’s for easy noms.  Most places are closed Sundays, and other days if they feel like it.  In fact, I doubt that the businesses in the closest towns to Nowhere have figured out yet that there’s a business opportunity from all the Nobodies passing through before the event needing supplies.  The event is projected to have about 1,300 in attendance this year, just a tiny event compared to Burning Man.  It should be a fun adventure!

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