Boiling over: What makes August so unbearable in Spain

WELL you’ve made it this far… and only a few days to go.

Be content that the majority of heatwaves are behind us and the so-called ‘mad month’ of August is nearly at an end.

But beware; it’s usually now, during the final throes of the long hot summer, that the real ‘mala leche’ (or bad milk) starts to come to the boil.

A month of extreme heat, traffic jams and pushy city dwellers demanding perfect speedy service is when the locals’ tempers start to fray. 

And when the hot and humid days combine with a full moon – as happened on August 12 – the loco vibe is at its worst.

Here are our eight forms of madness on the Costas.

1. Water disputes

As water gets increasingly scarce and streams and taps dry up, neighbours can frequently be found screaming at each other, perhaps because someone took their ‘acequia’ (watercourse) water at the wrong time of day or inserted a pipe without permission. 

2. Too much fiesta

Whether it’s your local town fiesta or a random late night concert, the party in August never stops! Sadly, this may result in a constant ‘resaca’ (hangover), which tends to ‘calentar la cabeza’ (heat the head) and makes people very unreasonable. Drinking in the sun doesn’t help.

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Revellers in Capileira, Granada region. Photo: Jo Chipchase

3. Lack of sleep

Aside from the heat and humidity which is a key cause of insomnia, the amount of people partying outside your house until the early hours, oblivious that you have work at 9am, is another. And then, just when you finally drift off to sleep, someone throws a ‘petardo’ (banger) down your street.

4. Bad driving

Motorists hurtling towards you on your side of the road, people who refuse to reverse, motorway tailgaters, and tiny cars blocking the entrance to your property. And then, of course, you’ve got the tourists returning for the summer from England, France and Germany, loaded up with goods on the roof and exhausted after a steady 12 hours of driving non stop. Never take your eyes off them!

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Flying vehicles are a frequent site in August. Photo: Tom Dashwood.

5. School’s out… seemingly forever

Back in June, you couldn’t wait for the kids to break up for summer, imagining the family fun you could have! Now, after a few trips to the waterpark and some fraught days out at the beach, you can’t wait for school to restart. And why must we wait until the second week of September, with the purse completely empty? Of course, we mustn’t forget to mention the teens moaning endlessly, having crawled out of bed at 2pm.

6. Rude waiting staff

Cooking in the heat isn’t fun, so why not visit the local restaurant? Unfortunately, everyone else who didn’t decide to head north on July 15, for six weeks, had the same idea. So it’s hard to find a table, the waiters are rushed off their feet, and the prices have seemingly gone up by 20%. After that, it takes 30 minutes to get a drink and then, after forgetting your order, the starters and main courses all turn up together. Of course, the bill has plenty of errors and, when you point this out, the waiters are openly hostile.

7. Queues for everything

August means queues – whether it’s for a popular visitor attraction, a viewpoint to take that Instagram snap, or a visit to the public toilet. This doesn’t improve anyone’s mood, particularly when people take it upon themselves to barge ahead of you.

8. Vital businesses being closed

Your car has developed an annoying fault that needs fixing right now, but your mechanic is away or on the beach with his family. Meanwhile, your bank manager has gone hiking with his friends, and the town hall and public offices are basically shut for anything important you might need. You’ll just have to wait for September 1.

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