The Sirocco is a Fire Starter

Today it is oppressively HOT. The first time this year that I have really struggled with the heat. Yes, it has been in the 30s before today but not ‘I can barely breathe hot’. It is probably the Sirocco/Scirocco that is causing this extreme heat, a wind that comes from Northern Africa and brings heat and a bit of the desert with it. Every time it is hot and there is a wind I get told it is the Sirocco. Not good to have a pile of sand dumped on your house when you have just cleaned the windows, balcony etc

In August we expect it to feel this hot. This is why you will find nearly all businesses are closed in August and everyone is in the sea cooling off. Tarmac melts, people are half comatose and wear very little but manage to muster up enough energy to utter ‘Che caldo’ (It’s hot) every now and again. Apparently today it is only  36 degrees centigrade. Believe you me it feels much hotter. In August temperatures hit the 40s and you leave buildings feeling as if you are walking into an oven. Hence why people try and fry eggs on the ground or on top of their cars. I cope with this kind of heat by doing very little and walking around in a constant doze or by running into the sea, especially at Fiumefreddo where the sea is ice-cold and so refreshing.

Today, I am not by the sea or a swimming pool. Today, I am hot and sweating buckets and feeling exhausted without doing anything. I will have to toughen up and get used to this again. I prefer to be warm than cold anyway, or so I keep telling myself. We only have air-con in one room so I expect that room will become my refuge over the next couple of  months.  Problem is the electricity tends to go off when too many people use their air-con. Blackouts by the energy suppliers in summer are also not uncommon. Different areas of the city have their electricity cut off at different times as there isn’t always enough to go around. Best not to buy too much food for the fridge during July and August. I remember once returning home in a blackout using the light of my mobile to see up the stairs to my apartment, no electricity meant not fan and therefore, very little sleep that night. In fact, the electricity is going on and off right now, house alarms everywhere are blaring.

The midday heat brought by the Sirocco today might just have started a fire near our home, or at least it helped spread a fire which was probably started by some idiot throwing away a cigarette end onto extremely dry, straw like grass. It has been burning for a while and worryingly it got quite close to a petrol station at one point. The smell of smoke has permeated through the apartment and the sound of sirens would tell me that they are still trying to contain it.  I suspect that this is the first fire of many as the the abundance of wildflowers that carpeted the ground in spring have now become tinder-dry. The fire moved up hill very quickly due to the wind, throwing flames high into the sky. It is now burning something which is producing intense black smoke and they are sending planes with water to try and put it out. It is still close to the petrol station which is why they have probably sent in the planes. There is a sewage works in that area so I really hope it isn’t the sewage that has now caught alight. I cannot imagine how hot it must be  where the fire is burning or how the people in the houses right next to the fire must be feeling.

Back to the hot weather…

If you do find yourself in Sicily struggling with the heat like me may I recommend the following:

  • Keep hydrated by buying a lemon seltz from the nearest kiosk. The most refreshing drink ever!
  • Obviously try and be by the sea dipping in and out of the water as often as needed or if not near to a pool.Bird cooling down
  • At night if you don’t have air-con or if it goes off sleep naked on your balcony or if you are worried about what the neighbours might think lie naked on the floor (marble is best) preferably in front of a fan.
  • Eat a granita for breakfast and an ice-cream for lunch. You won’t need anything else.
  • In the evening get to higher ground and therefore fresher air.
  • Walk around with a plant mister. There are water taps everywhere so you can fill up with fresh, cold stuff frequently.Pigeon & the water fountain
  • Don’t wear grey – I truly do not understand why people choose to wear grey t-shirts, shorts etc. They show up the sweat more than any other coloured clothing I know.
  • Become a night-owl. There is a reason they have siestas. Night-time and the early hours of the day are the best temperature-wise in the summer.
  • Put a bottle of water in the freezer the night before you go to the beach. It will stay colder and therefore, more refreshing for longer.
  • Always have something with you to provide shade. In the heat shade, a breeze and water are your best friends and should be sought out at every opportunity.

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