KEEPING THINGS COOL
It seems Spain and Portugal are going for a heat record this week, but La Donaira, located high in the mountains was designed with glorious hot summers in mind.
The old cortijo built in traditional Andaluz style has thick stone walls, stone floors, big shared indoor spaces, high ceilings and windows orientated and insulated to keep out the peak heat sun. It's traditional for farmhouses in this region to face north, and come August, everyone understands why.
The Arabs set the precedent for tree-lined shaded gardens, running water, and natural pools: the albercas. Time it right and you'll find deep shade in one of La Donaira's courtyards and gardens, and our spring-fed natural pool, modelled on an alberca, stays pleasantly cold. Out of the sun we also have the spa with icy plunge pool and 21m indoor pool.
But wherever you are, there are lessons to be learnt from the way people live their lives in Andalucia:
- Plan your day: abandon any idea of an action-packed itinerary. Get up early, do nothing after 1pm but eat lunch, take the afternoon off, and set off again after 8pm. Most people, even families with young children, won't even arrive at the many August village ferías until 11pm.
- Keep doors and windows open at night, and shut with shutters or curtains closed and blinds down during the day.
- Drink a lot: water and infusions, that is. Don't walk or drive anywhere without water, ideally in an insulated bottle - the kind every farmer has hanging from a tree while they work.
- Walk in and along the shaded clear water rivers. The Sierra de Grazalema and Los Alcornocales Natural Parks are full of river walks and shady icy cold swimming holes.
- Swim: during the day (in a t-shirt if you're planning on basking) and at night: lovely. Local companies offer full moon night kayaking on the nearby lake.
- The obvious clothing considerations: wear loose cotton clothing and protect the back of your neck. Apply sunblock regularly and keep your feet cool.