The Costa del Sol means ‘Coast of Sun’ …. right? Well, the answer to that is – while there certainly is an awful lot of sun and temperatures in the high 40’s in the summer months, there are also plenty of other variations, Costa del Torrential Rain, Costa del Hurricane Force Winds ….even Costa del Snow? You don’t think it’s possible? We found it was once we found the home we wanted to buy on this Spain property portal — Well – read on.
When my husband first proposed the idea of moving to sunny Spain saying ‘Imagine waking every morning to blue skies and sunshine’, I thought – ‘ewww, no, how boring’. I love the variety of British weather where all four seasons can easily be experienced in one day – but I needn’t have worried, not only do we experience all types of weather but it’s often in its most dramatic form, in fact I didn’t realise that it was possible to experience such extremes of weather on the Costa del Sol!
We had been regular visitors to the Costa Blanca where our friends owned a property in Javea, an area which we also adored, but for family reasons choose the Costa Del Sol as a preference
Okay – so we’re not exactly a stone’s throw from the beach, gazing onto the sparkling azure waters of the Med. We are in a hamlet in the countryside 30 kms from the nearest coastal resort of Torre del Mar and about 550m above sea level but it is still the Costa del Sol even though most people think of sun beds on the sand and pitchers of sangria rather than the local herd of goats and farmers with their donkeys passing by.
We signed the papers for the house (that’s another story!) on a beautiful December day in 2002. After visiting the lawyer’s office and the passing of the obligatory brown envelope under the table, we all retired to a restaurant for a celebratory lunch, sitting on the terrace, basking in the warm rays of sun while feeling rather sorry for the folks in the gloom back home – as if!.
A rude awakening
There was a fair amount of work to be done on the house before it would be fit for human habitation – although the spiders, geckos and field mice quite happy with it as it was! – so my husband set out at the end of February 2013 to make a start.
I rang him late on the morning following his arrival expecting to hear a progress report on how he’d just finished whitewashing the outside walls and was about to tackle the interior after a light, refreshing cerveza and some bread and goat’s cheese on the sun-dappled terrace. Instead, the conversation went something like this (after quite a delay for the phone to be answered):
Me – brightly …. ‘Hi – how’s it going?’
Him – not so brightly ….’Wha …….. wha time is it?’
Me – a little less brightly …. ‘It’s 10.30 in the morning – 11.30 your time’
Him – sounding rather bewildered …. But it’s still dark – I was still asleep’
Me – through slightly gritted teeth …. ‘Have you opened the shutters?’
Him – now very bewildered …. ‘Course I have – hang on a minute I’ll just look outside’ – sound of slippers shuffling receding – pause – sound of slippers shuffling returning – ‘It’s almost dark, throwing it down with rain and I can’t see to the end of the terrace as it’s covered in cloud’.
Well, so much for getting any work done that day – or the next, or the next. In fact the weather stayed like that through the rest of February, March and on and off for April and May for good measure.
When I came out to join him I could be found wandering about the house muttering to myself ‘Costa del Sol? – more like Costa del Lluvia’.
The house was a 200 year old farmhouse with thick walls and tiny windows designed to keep the house cool and the hot sun out – these design features just weren’t so good when it never got lighter than a November twilight day in Grimsby day after day
Did you know that wheelbarrows can fly?
No? – well neither did we until after a night of lying in bed listening to what sounded like Hurricane Katrina all around the house. We went out in the morning to find our garden furniture floating in the swimming pool and the heavy iron wheelbarrow lying on its back 200 metres from where we’d left it.
Some friends had that heavy ornamental cast iron garden furniture on their terrace – so heavy that you were at risk of a serious hernia just pulling it out from under the table.They discovered theirs that morning scattered to the four corners of their garden (it still took two of them to retrieve each item!). What force of wind was capable of doing that?
Costa del Snow
We had actually experienced some snow a couple of years before when we’d had a few days of bitterly cold temperatures, down to -5 degrees at one point. Our neighbour who’s 76 and lived in the village for the past 40 years said he couldn’t remember such cold weather and when it actually snowed one morning he was like a little boy! However, as soon as the sun appeared over the mountain behind our hamlet, the thin covering swiftly melted.
In January 2015 it was a different story. The snow started on the evening of the 10th and right from the beginning started to fall heavily.
Our house is set on the edge of the hamlet and on a busy day – such as a fiesta – we may get half a dozen cars an hour pass along the road at the edge of our field, so we were somewhat bemused to see 30 or 40 cars park up along the narrow road and families emerging to throw snowballs and toboggan on the steep hill opposite.
We decided to get in the car and investigate just why so many were ending up in our hamlet. When we drove down to the main road leading from the coast up to the Sierra Nevada ski resort (a two hour drive away), we discovered that the police had set up a road block and were only allowing those vehicles with snow chains fitted to their tyres to proceed further. Well – as you can imagine – they’re not the most commonly sold items on the coast so most vehicles were turned away and ended up heading to the lower slopes of our village where the kids (young and old) could still experience the fun of playing in the snow. The cars who had been to the higher altitudes were later to be seen driving back down to the coast with snow-men proudly perched on their car bonnets.
It was all too short-lived. By early afternoon the snow had all but disappeared although Mount Maroma, the highest mountain in the Sierra Tejeda at 2066m, remained snow-capped until the spring