The Spanish as a “cold” people

When I say that the Spanish are “cold,” I don’t meant that they are unfriendly people. I mean that they are literally cold in the temperature sense of the word.  Although it is now starting to cool off here in Madrid (finally, I couldn’t handle another 88ºF day), you’d think it was going to blizzard outside with the way people are dressing. Everyone’s already got their pants out, boots, scarves, jackets, gloves, vests, you-name-it to battle this supposed unrelenting evil chill that has devoured Madrid.

No. There is still nothing cold about Madrid.  The temperature has dropped a bit but it’s more like perfect skateboard weather, not blizzard survival.  So why are they all over-dressing?

On my way to work, I notice it too. Even though it’s a bit chilly at 7 in the morning when I head out to work, people look like they’re getting ready for a blizzard. I catch the metro that is always jam-packed with people, and I swear I’m the only person with sleeves rolled up and jacketless.  I take the metro for a while and then I jump onto the bus, and that’s the worst part. Everyone knows that there is no air conditioning in Spain, so I would never expect the bus driver to turn on some good old AC, but rather, the driver has the HEAT cranked! And it’s a clear blue skies, take-your-dog-for-a-walk-in-the-park, go-tanning, go-for-a-picnic kind of day!  I’m literally stripping off articles of clothing to the point that by the time I finally get dropped off at my stop, I’m practically standing in my underwear and socks. Open air never felt so good as I wipe the beads of sweat off of my forehead.

As I begin to get antsy on that hot coal-bed of a bus and the warmth becomes nearly intolerable, I look around to see if anyone else is dying from the heat. But alas, all I can see are people in long sleeves, scarves, jackets, and not a single one even has a sleeve slightly rolled up. They are all calm, relaxed, riding the bus to work cozily bundled up in snow-storm attire.

My buddy Chris Kelley published the following on Facebook a few weeks ago,

“Hey Spanish people who look at me with a strange look or make comments about me wearing shorts in October. Look, it’s 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit). I don’t care if it’s not fashionable. It’s hot as balls.”

I told this to an American that I met last night and she said, (jokingly of course) “What was he thinking wearing shorts in Spain?!”  Then she even commented about it (now I know it’s not just me and I’m not crazy.)  She said that her German roommate would dress in pants, boots, vest, and was having difficulties picking out a scarf, whereas as this American girl and her other American friend were wearing shorts and t-shirts.  So maybe it’s Europeans and not just the Spanish.  Or maybe we Americans are just really hot. I kind of like the sounds of that latter statement.

Last night, I decided to throw a hoodie on because everyone else was bundling up. So I followed everyone’s lead thinking the temperature had really dropped at night. But I was  mistaken. The second I hit the street, I was already sweating and it was such a nice night out that I could have gone in just a t-shirt. They all had me fooled.

I’m not really sure what the correlation is between people and warmth, but if the bus driver on the way to work is going to keep the heat that high all winter long, I’m going to get real fed up having to strip off my pea coat, then my hoodie, then my long-sleeve dress shirt to arrive at work covered in sweat.  This is how you get pnemonia, changing from drastic colds to immense heats.  Can’t wait, let me tell you.


6 thoughts on “The Spanish as a “cold” people

  1. They are tricky that way. I once saw an old lady get mad at a young girl on the metro for wearing “ropa de agosto” in June. It was about 90 degrees, and she was going to the beach.

    Also, it was 75 last January but those Spaniards were still wearing scarves, boots, and winter jackets while I laid out on the beach. Why? Because it was still winter, obviously.


  2. Seems pretty accurate! I was sitting in the German sunshine in a tshirt and bare legs two weeks ago and I got a few bewildered looks from the locals, all wrapped up in marshmallow jackets and scarves. Mad.


  3. I was in Madrid this weekend for a conference, and the other andaluces and I were FREEZING! I think Spain¡s weird temp control and poorly insulated houses down here have definetely messed up my normal body temprature. It’s about 78º here in Seville, and I had on a scarf, cardigan and sneakers, a far cry from the sundress I wore Wednesday!


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