Last Day of Summer in Spain 2011

Today is it, August 31st, the last day of Summer for Spaniards. For most students, summer lasts until school starts. But for adults it lasts until you have to go back to work – and in the case of Spaniards, summer ends either on July 31st or August 31st.

We all know that many Europeans take an entire month “holiday” (or, as we in the USA say, “vacation” – the British influences here in Spain have somewhat altered my vocabulary) and Spaniards are no different. To those unemployed Spaniards, however, I’m sure they’d rather be working. But for the working, floods of vacationers will be on Spain’s highways today, clogging the arteries between major cities on their return home.

People will return to the office sporting their enviable tans, new hair-dos, painted nails, and stories of  things they did and saw. Others will have spent a relaxing month in “el pueblo” with family and visiting old friends.

Regardless of how Spaniards spent their summer, on hot beaches or cool northern villages, none of them are happy to be home. No one looks forward to returning to the daily grind and facing daily responsibilities, back to public transportation or constant traffic, standing in long lines, cooking and cleaning. For others, usually the women, they might even be more relaxed back home as they may have been busier on vacation. “Send those kids back to school. Please!” parents will say.

I spent only 2 weeks in a tiny village in northern Spain, in the province of Cantabria, about 45 minutes south of the nearest beach and next to some beautifully green mountains. While the relatively cool temperatures were nice (relative to the heat wave which passed through Madrid while I was gone, that is), I could have done without the humidity and the insects which accompany such lush, green, rural landscapes. Guess I’m a city boy now.

July was quiet in Madrid, but August was even quieter when I was here. That’s nice. What’s not nice is going to your favorite bar or restaurant only to find a “Closed Until 1 September” sign in the door. That’s frustrating. But everyone needs a break and, thinking socially, I’m glad Spain still follows this custom of shutting down for a month or so, totally disconnecting and focusing on family, travel, and even romance – new or old.

Tomorrow’s the day. “BACK TO WORK, SPAIN!”

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