It’s hot on the Camino |

¡Qué calor! (it’s so hot).

We’re experiencing extremely hot weather in Spain (and Portugal) at the moment. It’s not the first ola de calor (heat wave) of the year, but it is the worst so far. It has even reached Galicia.

I don’t remember having temperatures over 40ºC here on the Galician coast ever in my life. El verano (summer) around here is never this hot. Until this week. So, our main concern has been to keep as cool as possible. Not easy!

 

It’s 38ºC outside right now, as I write this. Plus the humidity, which is always high in Galicia. Let’s just say it has been a slow week: staying indoors most of the day, drinking lots of fluids and sweating from the effort of bringing the bottle of water to my mouth.

 

It’s OK for me, because I can choose to stay at home. But this is a busy time on the Camino. And walking right now is dangerous. 

 

A 48-year old Belgian pilgrim died earlier this week of golpe de calor (heatstroke) after his first day on the Camino. So, this is not something that should be taken lightly.

 

I’ve heard of several pilgrims who decided to stop their Camino and finish some other time when it’s not so hot. Wise idea.

 

But if you are going to walk in this kind of heat you should be extra careful. The last thing you want is to end up with insolación (sunstroke), golpe de calor or agotamiento por calor (heat exhaustion).

 

What to do when it’s hot on the Camino 

Although there are some differences between sunstroke, heatstroke and heat exhaustion, they should all be taken very seriously. The best plan, of course, is to prevent them. So, what can we do?

 

  •  Check the forecast. You can use el eltiempo.es or aemet. Both pages allow you to search for specific areas and get a more accurate report. It can be hot even if overcast.
  • Start temprano (early). Very early. And finish early too. Avoid being out in the sun during the central hours of the day.

  • Protect yourself. Wear a gorro (hat), crema solar (sunscreen) and light coloured clothes, and cover exposed skin.

  • Prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; it’s better to take small sips constantly. So, make sure you drink enough and you replenish your electrolytes too. You can take salty snacks or, if you need, you can ask for electrolitos at any pharmacy.

  • Keep humidity in mind. Temperatures in Galicia are usually not as high as in other parts of Spain (although that’s not the case this week!) but humidity  makes you feel fatigued and dehydrated faster than in dry heat. 

Worrying signs

As I mentioned earlier, there are some differences between sunstroke, heatstroke and heat exhaustion, but all should be taken very seriously. 

Remember  you can always contact the emergency services if you (or someone you know) are not feeling well. The number is 112, it’s free to call and it offers 24/7 emergency service to anyone in Spain. Operators speak English as well as Spanish.

 

So, what are the signs that you might be suffering from heatstroke or heat exhaustion?

  • Calambres, or muscle cramps.
  • Dolor de cabeza, or headache.
  • Nausea and or vomiting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Either heavy sweating or lack of sweating in the case of heatstroke.
  • Rapid heart rate.

This is not an extensive list of symptoms and I’m not qualified to give medical advice. So, be careful out there and, if you come across someone who might be suffering from either heatstroke or heat exhaustion, seek medical attention immediately.

 

To finish on a lighter note, please don’t say estoy caliente  when you want to say you’re feeling hot. That’s not what it means and you might get some unwanted reactions. I’ll leave it there and let you figure out what estoy caliente means…