Archive | July, 2013

Summer is underway.

Posted on 16 July 2013 by American expat!

The weather is heating up and the days are long, which means frequent trips to the beach. During the week, you head there after work to cool off and to give in to the gravity that has been pulling at your eyelids every afternoon at your desk. On the weekends, you spend entire days–6 to 8 hours or more–by the sea. You arrive by foot, bicycle, metro, train or scooter (rarely ever does anyone head to beach by car here in Spain) and stake your claim in the sand, as close to the water as possible. If you are lucky, you’ll have a bit of shade from a palm tree. If you are smart, you’ll have brought an umbrella. If you have neither, you’ll require a lot of sunscreen and frequent runs into the sea to cool down.

This is the time of year where the beach offers fantastic people watching, especially in Barcelona. You’ll hear languages from all over the world, and depending on what kind of travel specials are being offered by airlines and hotels, any given week you will hear gaggles of French girls speaking through pursed lips, American accents and laughter ringing out across the sand, or Italians speaking animatedly over one another. Congregations of English and Germans have their regular times too, and while they are immediately recognizable (read: sunburned) they are less audibly observable

The chiringuitos are in full swing, offering shade, views, music and the worst service you will ever experience. Perhaps they do not have enough room in the tiny, temporary kitchens to actually produce more than two dishes at a time, or perhaps they only hire servers based on their ability to speak multiple languages, or perhaps, like all Spanish companies, staff are just expected to figure out a process for how things should be run on their own with no way to work together to get things done. Fortunately, you are in the shade with your friends and music and breeze off the sea make it OK that you will wait forever and your order will always be wrong. Sometimes you will even be told that they are too busy to make food for you, which is why you always bring snacks and drinks in your beach bag.

As always, that amazing cultural, lingual and racial mix that is the Brazilian manifests in a grip of hard bodied expats who occupy the volleyball nets from morning until dark. It is a wonder to observe them, not only because they have invented new ways to play volleyball because normal volley is too easy (a common one is using only feet, heads and chests for example), but also because they maintain their beach dress codes from home, sporting the tiniest swim trunks (not speedos but still tight and lycra) and bikinis as they jump and sweat at the ball. 

It is often that your evening plans go unrealized, as your day at the beach spills over into the evening. The sun moves lower in the sky, and the chiringuitos bring in DJ’s, or sporting events are displayed on flat screen tvs hung off the ceilings as there are no walls. It’s easy to plan to pop in for one drink before leaving the beach and stay until way past sundown, which comes at almost 10pm. Those afternoons you planned only a quick snooze and a swim can easily turn into tapas and drinks until midnight. It is easy to forget time when you don’t have to worry about clothing.  

Soon, the visitors will overrun the beaches, and you too will need to get away from your city, to change your routine and see something different, just as the visitors are doing in your city. But for now, every hot, still morning holds the promise of the salty breeze your afternoon could hold (if you make the time). There is still some peace and space on the beach, still the chance to find your friends walking down the boardwalk. You still wish it was summer all year long. So you step out onto the balcony to collect your towel and swim suit, both baked and stiff from the sun. 

 

 

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